Life Arts

The Valuable Inconvenience of Leadership: A Message for the Class of 2009

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Interesting 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com

- Advertisement -

As graduation season rolls around once again, it is time to ask the new crop of bright and eager graduates to consider an important challenge. The immense problems the world faces require every graduate to engage in what I call "the valuable inconvenience of leadership." Class of 2009, will you accept this challenge?

Let me explain: Old knowledge is continuously giving way to new understandings, and we must be ready to rethink what we thought we had learned. Then, we must be courageous enough to act on that new knowledge. One quick example: Recently, scientists discovered that our familiar picture of the heart as a four-chambered organ was incorrect; a heart is actually one long muscle band wound into a double twist. This one discovery forces us to rethink completely our current ideas and methods for preventing and treating coronary artery disease. As a scientist or physician trained to believe in the four-chambers, how willing will you be to rethink the treatments that you have so carefully learned? That is, indeed, inconvenient.

To have the power and strength to challenge the wisdom of the day, new graduates need to become the leaders of the future. Before they do, however, they need to recognize that leadership means more responsibility, less privilege. Good leadership calls for more character, less charisma.

Some leaders promise to keep us safe and provide whatever we need. All we have to do is accept unquestioningly their vision, their values, their beliefs, and their strategies. These toxic leaders insist that they will do all the heavy lifting while we go about our more pleasurable business.

Good leaders won't promise to handle everything while we pursue our dreams. More often, good leaders ask us to set aside the activities in which we are happily immersed to take on our fair share of the leadership burdens. They don't offer us free lunch. Rather, they expect us to cook the meal and clean up, as well.

I challenge today's gradates to become good leaders. But it won't be easy. They will need to engage in the "valuable inconvenience of leadership." There is an inconvenience in being challenged to move in new directions. It's tempting to avoid those extra chores of running for city council, serving on juries, and volunteering at the voting stations. Let someone else do it, you might say. Yet, blindly following leaders who promise to do the hard work for us is a dangerous choice. Besides, simply accepting those illusions -- for that is what they are --of protection, happiness, and ennoblement keeps us from meeting our own responsibilities as leaders.

- Advertisement -

Good leaders challenge us with other inconveniences, as well. They urge us to matriculate in what the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkergaard called the "school of anxiety," where we learn and grow in ways we never could if we remain cocooned in the false safety of illusions. The process is painful both for leaders and constituents. In fact, these leaders may insist upon shattering even those illusions we create for ourselves. Still, it must be done if we are to make progress.

The "valuable inconvenience of leadership" also makes us face life head on. It calls us to live authentically. Only when we are living on the verge of uncertainty, making our best judgments as we venture out into the unknown, into that unfinished world where what we think we know changes in the blink of an eye, shall we avoid a greater danger. Goethe called that the danger of living too safely, wrapped in the blanket of our illusions.

The "valuable inconvenience of leadership" requires us not simply to put our knowledge and strengths to the test, but to put them at the service of others. The graduating Class of 2009 has been privileged to learn in great American colleges and universities. As they leave the stage, diplomas in hand, these new graduates have a life-determining choice to make: Either they can take this privilege and use it solely to enhance their own lives and those of their dear ones. OR they can use it primarily in the name of a larger, less privileged majority, who exist around the globe.

Using the learning symbolized by their diplomas and the unanticipated knowledge the Class of 2009 is bound to encounter, our graduates can help to move this unfinished world several steps forward. By accepting the "valuable inconvenience of leadership," they may also address the challenge laid down by the renowned educator Horace Mann, who said: "Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity."

Happy graduation, Class of 2009!
- Advertisement -

 

www.cgu.edu

About Claremont Graduate University Founded in 1925, Claremont Graduate University is one of the top graduate schools in the United States. Our nine academic schools conduct leading-edge research and award masters and doctoral degrees in 22 (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon


Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): ; , Add Tags
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The New Math Challenge in America

Ethical Business Executives Need to Commit to Social Responsibility

A Modern School District

Four Reasons Why Obama is the Connective Leader for a New Era

President Bush Legacy Will Be as a Toxic Leader

The Valuable Inconvenience of Leadership: A Message for the Class of 2009

Comments

The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
1 people are discussing this page, with 1 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)
This should be distributed as widely as possible.... by kwalsh on Thursday, Jun 4, 2009 at 8:39:15 PM