Archive for March, 2010

Fundamental Optimism

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

No man demonstrated greater leadership in the 20th Century than Nelson Mandela – that icon of a man who was jailed for more than twenty years yet stayed focused and came out to break apartheid’s back, becoming his country’s first black president. In his book, Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela has a quote that I have always enjoyed reading. He says,

I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature of nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death“. (p. 377)

Leaders face many unique situations. There are times when their vision is clouded by present circumstances and it is so easy to give up and throw in the towel. There are times when even driving the process of change becomes a weary task and their motives and judgements are brought into question. All leaders experience those times when they are surrounded by situations that don’t seem to align with their purposes and plans. It is in those situations that true leaders thrive. True leadership demands an optimistic attitude. If you are going to achieve that which you set out for, you must stay focused and continue to believe in the vision. That is the key to success as a leader.