“Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, Italian philosopher
Great leaders have the courage of conviction. Throughout history we have witnessed legacies and legends being born when they lead their teams to greater heights because they were one of the few who stood against the wind of fickle people. They held on and did not waver when their morals, faith and conviction of what is right and what is wrong turned contrary to the winds of the crowds. They are motivated by the greater good of their people and they do not seek fame and fortune. Here are just three examples.
Sir William Wallace: 1270-1305 A.D. Led the Scottish people in a fight for freedom that was ultimately won from England. William Wallace’s life was portrayed in the movie “Braveheart”. He did not want to fight but he realized it was the only way to overcome a life of misery for himself and his fellow countrymen who had lost all hope and self-esteem. Beaten down by the monarch of England, the Scottish people eventually found their freedom but it did not come without sacrifice. Wallace learned of the fickleness of the people who followed him when he was betrayed during several key battles. His people just decided it was easier to go back to a life of servitude rather than courageously stand up to the monarch’s power. Wallace did not falter. He knew freedom would come at a price. He ultimately paid the supreme price with his life through a painful death. He was once quoted as saying,
“I always showed myself in the face of day, asserting the liberty and independence of my country, while some others, like owls, courted concealment and were too much afraid of losing their roosts to leave them for such a cause.”
It was through his steadfast courage in battle, in victory and in death that he inspired an entire people to rise to their potential and seek freedom. His legacy lives on…. He did not waver.
Moses : A humble man. He did not seek leadership but was put in that position by God. One of the reasons he did not want to lead was he knew his people were fickle. The fickleness frustrated him but it did not stop him. He relied on his inner strength of faith to keep him focused and going. As the leader of his people, he actually interceded for his people with God to seek His mercy. Even after seeing such great miracles, (pharaoh’s allowing the slaves to be freed, parting of the Red Sea, manna from heaven and many others) the great crowd of people wanted to go back, wanted to worship idols, wanted to turn on Moses….. but he did not waver. He knew he was leading his people to a better place and a better life. It took him 40 years. He never got to enjoy the “land of milk and honey” himself but he had the courage of conviction. The courage of faith to see it through. His people, will never forget him for leading them through the fog of fear to a land of opportunity and freedom.
Jesus: This week Christians around the world stop to recognize Holy Week. The week Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to a crowd of well wishers waiving palm leaves and praising him as their king. In just days, the crowd would turn against him and demand Pilate “Crucify Him!” Yes, people can be fickle. A man can perform miracles before their very eyes, live among them, be their friend and mentor but then the crowd can quickly turn against him. Jesus did not waver. He held true to His beliefs. He knew a sacrifice had to be made to provide freedom and forgiveness for this broken people called the Human Race. He did not falter. He did not waver. He did not condemn the crowd. He forgave them and then went forward. This man, in His early 30’s, became the One who helped change the world and form one of the world’s greatest religions based on faith, love and forgiveness.
Yes, as a group, we humans can be a fickle lot. In a crowd, it is easy to move with the direction of the winds. Blowing directionless. There are days when what was right becomes wrong. What was wrong becomes right. Our laws, our opinions, our outlook can change directions as quickly as a crowd who praises a leader and then turns on him in the span of a week. Great leaders lead with a sense of calling. (Think also of Churchill, Lincoln, Martin Luther King) They are ready to make sacrifices and bear the brunt of a fickle people but they do not waver. They courageously grasp their faith and their morals and lead on. That is why they are called great leaders. That is why they leave us a legacy through their gift of courageously giving all they have for the greater good of the people they lead. They become much more than legends.
Want to be a great leader? Maybe it is time to grab a shovel full of courage. Until next time, Peace! 🙂