Throughout my life, I’ve faced some interesting and precarious situations and events. All of these events have helped mold the man that I am today. Although more I learn and more I read about the leaders of the past and present, I have come to the realization that it’s not events, wealth, or social standing that define who you are. The personality you are born with doesn’t relinquish through hardships, but it can begin to go dormant. I’ve come to understand that it is at this point where you let go of your past, let go of your hardships, and let go of the resentment of others is when you truly realize your potential. The potential that you are born with has no barriers. The only barrier is yourself and the false limitations that rule your life.
The more historical leaders in the past weren’t all Harvard graduates, they weren’t all sons and daughters of the established aristocracy, but they were people that had a deep understand of the human condition. They were men and women that accepted who they were and with great conviction and passion willed themselves to achieve great things. The reason why they achieved these great accomplishments were not because of the fame or the money. It was because they wanted to help their fellow man.
Those close to me know that my historical idol is Abraham Lincoln. This is a man that at so many times in his life could have succumbed to grief and never realized his full potential. He grew up in poverty, had no access to education, and had little to no opportunity to advance himself. He found a way though, he studied whenever he had free time, he taught himself law, and passed the bar exam to be able to practice law. Considering where he came from, no one ever expected this from him and he could have become content to be a successful Illinois lawyer. This wasn’t enough for him though, and he knew the dilemma of the day and he wanted to be in the forefront on how to solve the issue.
Throughout his political career, initially he was by no means successful. He wasn’t initially successful because people didn’t think a poor farm boy from Illinois was worthy of being a Statesmen on the national level. He faced hostility from all who surrounded him in the political arena, but his understanding of who he was and his ability to legislate based on his morals were the key to his victories and why he won the affection of the big name politicians of the day. His consistency in his views and his understanding on how to communicate them to the public were his keys to success.
His consistency is something we should all admire. His personality as a young man in Illinois was the same as the President of the United States. His achievements as President is why we have the freedom that we have today. His believed that the civil war was a test of the strength of democracy. He felt it was his responsibility to show the world that a people governed by themselves can stand through the thick and thin. The union he preserved, and the liberty he provided made the country a better place for good and secured his place in history.
Not all of us will have the opportunity to achieve such accomplishments, only because we aren’t facing a struggle on par with the civil war. But what we all need to do, is figure out what it is that we will do to leave our mark on the world. How can we help our fellow man? How can we help people abroad? How can we be an example for the next generation?
These are questions that can be difficult to answer. The important part is to stay true to yourself, accept who you are and be strong in your conviction. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, don’t aspire to be Abraham Lincoln or whoever your historical icon is. Allow people to learn from your journey, allow people to learn from your mistakes. Pave your own path, make your own way, and do the right thing to secure your own place in history. We have all been afforded the luxury of liberty, and I recommend that we utilize it to its fullest. The great leaders of the past were great because of their ability to empathize with the common man. I heard a quote once that bothered me immensely “Absolute Power Corrupts. Absolutely.” Perhaps this is why there is perpetual distrust for Politicians and CEO’s. My response is to not aspire for power, but aspire to make the world a better place.
Execute your goals consistently and honorably, and don’t allow the corruption to overtake your mission in life. The responsibility ultimately lies on us, and an understanding of who you are and what makes you tick is the key to realizing your potential in life.