”Leadership is the small things. It starts with you.” – Faustino John Lim, Center for Asia Leadership Co-founder, Director for International Affairs.
Many people didn’t know they can be a leader until they attended a leadership program. I am one of them and I am not alone.
Every now and then I would look at Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora even Instagram and there’s a staggering amount of leadership courses, forums, and symposium. They’re everywhere that my discernment finds it hard to believe its credibility. With everyone offering such programs it made me think ~ If everyone can curate a module about law and diplomacy and tackling Asia leadership initiatives then maybe Leadership is just common sense. It is a common knowledge of “leading”, ordering around, being the only voice that matters and wearing the nice Boss pants. Many say there’s a difference between a leader and a boss. But really, it’s basically the same thing. Perhaps the first is just a little more humble than the latter. Again, I think it’s all the same and it’s not that complicated.
Luckily, my company’s doing social media management of a “Leadership Organization”. But not just any other ordinary organization. They teach Harvard’s Adaptive Leadership by Ron Heifetz and Marty Linsky and Stanford University’s Design Thinking. I didn’t question its credibility. I mean, who would? These are legit Teaching Fellows from the Ivy League. For somebody who doesn’t believe much about personal development, I can take a thing or two and not miss the opportunity to experience Harvard in Asia.
I sat there with the intent and purpose of solely covering the event. I sat there not giving much attention until Mr. Lim asked: ”What is your act of Leadership?” I wasn’t compelled to answer but I felt the question was directed at me.
I don’t know. I was never elected class president neither was I part of a group with social impact advocacy. I’m your regular student trying to survive college. But Mr. Lim repeated the question ”What is your act of leadership?”
Then I remembered my hardships, all those harrowing nights I had to work on my reports only to get rejected by my professor. I remembered sitting in our living room thinking, maybe I should just drop out and make the next Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg did it. The only difference is that he didn’t drop out to escape college. He took initiative in achieving his goals. He believed and he took action. And now he’s leading a company that shaped history.
Did he know that when he was starting Facebook in his dormitory at Harvard University? Did Jack Ma know? Elon? Steve Jobs? Barrack Obama? Did they know?
They didn’t. But they found it in their heart to act and start something that turned out to be a multitude of things for a lot of people.
Another bright example was when Samuel Hungsoo Kim from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, President and Co-founder of the Center for Asia Leadership, related to our childhood. He said that the reason villains never win is that something is missing from them, unlike their superhero counterparts. They didn’t have the heart. They just do as they do. They have shallow motivation unlike the other that wakes up every day fulfilling their purpose no matter what kind of mayhem comes their way. Leadership comes purpose. It’s always going to be victorious despite the obstacles waiting on every leader’s way.
I still don’t think nor feel I will shape history like those I have mentioned. But we have something in common just like the many others who felt they aren’t created for something meaningful. We had a way to start, a way to start from within us, from within me. And it is more than enough.
The program ended and I felt the hype. That’s what it was all about. They didn’t inspire me to be someone else. They inspired me to be myself and to experience the full capacity of my uniqueness to encourage change.
Leadership is not having followers or being in a position of power. Leadership is finding purpose, taking action and never giving up for the greater good.
I am not about to lead a non-profit organization. But I took away the courage to go back to the real world and be my best self.
The lectures weren’t given to provide a systematic way of leading. There were no adaptive leadership tools. It taught me the most important fact – that everything around us changes besides ourselves. It is up to us to adapt and survive. Or hopefully, be the next Forbes Magazine cover.
By: DGLab Australia