10 Leadership Gems From Martin Luther King

If I could invite anyone, living or dead, to my ‘last supper’, Martin Luther King would be on that guest list. BTW – so would Andy Warhol and Keith Richards; but that’s a story for another day.

Like Nelson Mandela and Gandhi, Martin Luther King was one of the most remarkable leaders of all time – not least because at the centre of his leadership were the tenets of lovecompassion, courage and belief.

I wonder what difference he would be making in the world if he was alive today?

There’s a whole rugby field of leadership gems we can learn from studying this man and his life. You could do a lot worse things than try to model yourself on him. At the very least, sit back and feel inspired by the ten following quotes from this astonishing human being (it was a tough job sticking to ten):

  1. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”
  2. “I have decided to stick to love…hate is too great a burden to bear.”
  3. “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
  4. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
  5. “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  6. “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
  7. “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
  8. “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
  9. “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation – either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.”
  10. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?

Soz ’bout it, but I just couldn’t help but add in this final one, perhaps my all-time favourite:

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.”

Happy Martin Luther King day.

January 19th, 2015|

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