Thoughts On Leadership - Part II

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Feb 21, 2015

“Leadership is the capacity to transform vision into reality.”
Warren Bennis

Last week I shared six points in “Thoughts on Leadership - Part I.” Today I would like to share six more. 

7. Service: The Jordan River Dies at the Dead Sea. Although the Dead Sea is rich with mineral content, it cannot sustain marine life because everything flows in and nothing flows out. We admire leaders who serve. As someone said, “Beware of the shepherd who has rhinestones on his staff.”

I have lived in Phoenixville for over 18 years and from the moment I arrived I discovered an amazing culture of service to others. It is part of the DNA of this community. From the YMCA to the Phoenixville Hospital and from the Chamber of Commerce to the many local service clubs, the people of this town know how to serve one another. No wonder Phoenixville was recently named by Philadelphia Magazine as one of the best places to live. 

8. Time:  What Time Is It? If I stop at Petrucci’s for ice cream and I have $20 in my pocket I hardly think about what I am going to order. But if all I have is a dollar bill, I will study the options to try to get as much as possible out of that dollar. When we are young with seemingly all the time in the world, we don’t think about time as much as when we are over 60. 

Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.” Wise leaders think long and hard about how they use their time. There is very little place for part-time visionaries. 

9. Forgiveness: “If You Could Lick My Heart It Would Poison You.” This was said by a Holocaust survivor. Sooner or later the toast will burn or betrayal will occur or the commitment will be violated and we will have a choice as to how we respond. As someone said, without forgiveness it is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Leaders must be able to forgive. 

My friend Jonas Beiler wrote a book titled “Think No Evil” describing the incredible capacity of the Amish to forgive after the Nickel Mines tragedy. On October 2, 2006, Charles Carl Roberts IV took 10 little girls hostage in a Pennsylvania Amish school, killing ​five of them and later committing suicide. We are almost awed by the capacity of the Amish to forgive. 

10. No: The Positive Power of Negative Thinking. Years ago a mentor said to me, “There are a lot of good things that need to be done in the world but you can’t do them all.” Whether it is in my private life or my public life, that sentence has helped me sort out the difference between the good, the better and the best when I would like to do them all. 

No wonder William James said, “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

11. Balance: Go Hide Yourself; Go Show Yourself. A. W. Tozer said, “Trust is like a bird; it cannot fly on one wing. Yet we are forever trying to take off with one wing flapping furiously while the other is tucked neatly out of sight.” 

Years ago I heard Dr. Loren Halvorson share a lecture that he titled, Journey Inward; Journey Outward. He talked of the need to balance our public life and our private life. More than one business person has come home to an empty mansion because work was more important than family.

12. Perspective: How Important Will It Be 100 Years from Now? Evie sometimes says, “How important will it be 100 years from now, or 50, or 20, or 10, or 5? Actually, it barely matters today.”

Thoughts on leadership from a guy in his 60s.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of the
University of Valley Forge, Phoenixville, Pa. 
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