I was thinking about the word transform as we prepare to celebrate Christmas next week. Most of us know that the greatest transformation occurred in our world a little over two thousand years ago with the birth of Jesus Christ. Leaders who emulate Jesus Christ will not only transform their own lives but the lives around them. Perhaps there is not a more important time than now for a transformation as we celebrate Christmas and use it as an opportunity to assist in transformation. Here are some ideas about how LIFE Leadership transforms and makes a difference in our world.
We can all remember a teacher who made a difference in our lives. Most of us could share a story about how that teacher influenced us. Those teachers or leaders, however, transformed themselves first before making a difference in others. They were committed to changing and growing themselves and knew they had to have change and personal growth to share. Influencers are active in self - education like those who use LIFE Leadership subscriptions today. Their hunger to learn influences others to do the same. Sometimes we perceive a leader as being extroverted, charismatic, and outspoken but this is not a requirement for leadership. Any personality can lead and make a difference. A historic example of a leader who transformed the world by transforming themselves is Jonathon Edwards. His name is associated with influencing a period of American history called the Great Awakening. It’s been said that he was the greatest intellect in American history. Although he was soft spoken and used candlelight when he spoke from his pulpit, he transformed people during one of the greatest revivals in history. His message frequently brought tears to the congregation because he was so convicting. People teach because they have a message that they are passionate about. In a sense, it’s a message that moves from one heart to another heart.
Leaders take responsibility for their actions. Adjustments to those actions make a leader effective. Maximizing our learning comes from maximizing our involvement. It’s not ok just to be busy. Leaders who take responsibility can identify with this Chinese proverb: “I hear, and I forget.” “I see, and I remember.” “I do, and I understand.” Leaders take responsibility not only for their actions, but the process of discovery by adjusting their behavior. My historic example of one who took responsibility is George Whitefield. He like Edwards influenced the Great Awakening. Whitefield took responsibility by making multiple transatlantic trips from Europe and America. He preached over ten thousand sermons along the Atlantic coast and at times up to ten thousand people attended. Because he was responsible for his actions, his influence helped shape the thinking that led to the formation of America.
Winston Churchill was known for his resolve. He was famous for saying, “Never, never, never, never give in.” His resolve to not surrender strengthened the will of a people who fought back when they were faced with an overwhelming adversary. His courage woke up the resolve of a people to preserve freedom who might have otherwise succumbed. As Paul said in Philippians, 3:13 – 14 “I press on toward the goal.” Persistence comes from committing and not giving up on your principles. This commitment makes it possible for leaders to transform our world. Transferring feelings inspires people to action. Emotions impact the will to act. Transformation happens when we are influenced from the strength of a leader’s character. Leaders who transform not only connect a thought, they connect a heart.
Transformation occurs by mastering the fundamentals of learning and growing. It’s important to not leave the basics. One of the basics to learning is the crucial skill of listening. Listening is the art of participating without speaking. Another fundamental to transformation that has been lost in modern times is learning from failure. The most effective way to learn from our behavior is through failure, either ours or someone else’s. The great civil war general Robert E. Lee was known for his ability to bend but not break. He is a great example of someone who mastered the basics early on in his career. Most people recognize Lee as one who faced insurmountable odds with great courage but only a few know about his early days when he served as an assistant to the Chief of the Department of Engineering in Washington. He learned the fundamentals of learning while serving as an apprentice constructing dams and dykes on the Mississippi River. It was actually there that he learned how to manage men and supplies. While you are going through your transformation never leave the fundamentals of learning and growing.
Without overcoming obstacles we can’t develop the perseverance necessary to forge our character. When a leader receives glamorous accolades for achievement we shouldn’t forget about the obstacles that they overcame with steadfast perseverance. One leadership example who used perseverance to overcome obstacles is William Wilberforce. He is known for his forty – year crusade against slavery, at that time, one of the largest trades in Europe. He not only kept focus on his goals but he kept his team focused on their common cause. They overcame one obstacle after another to transform all of Europe if not the world.
We transform our lives by being a life long learner. We then become ready for any situation. Preparation makes us ready to perform. When that particular time comes a leader must contribute. It is said that as a boy Patrick Henry was not much of a talker. He rather, liked to listen to others. During that time he spent years studying for the bar exam to fulfill his goal of becoming an attorney, not knowing that his role would change and that he was preparing to become one of the catalyst’s for the Revolutionary War. Those learned skills gave him the readiness he needed. He is perhaps best known as one of the greatest orators of his time and was given the name “The Son of Thunder.”
Motivation means move to action. It’s not the head that moves us to action it’s the heart. We need to take the head from the head and put the heart in the heart. When this happens it arouses the passion to move. It’s passion that ignites the will to action. It’s inspiration that ignites the will to act. A more modern example of a leader who inspired his country to transform is Martin Luther King. He said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period… was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.” Couldn’t this statement be applied to our current culture that is in dire need of a people to revive their dream?
Leaders only begin with the mind but they transform the heart . Best selling author Orrin Woodward writes in, ‘Launching A Leadership Revolution’, “Leaders lead for the joy of creating something bigger than themselves.” Leaders begin when they transform themselves, but they are known when they transform the world around them. They make a difference in their churches, schools, businesses, teams, or countries. Those environments are transformed compared to how they began. This season we will celebrate Christmas as a time of transformation. With these examples isn’t it possible for us to begin the journey of transformation and be used to transform our world today? God Bless, George Guzzardo