When I was a squadron commander in Wichita, Kansas, a friend gave me a simple, framed quote that had been found written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey in England. The words read:
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights and decided to change only my country.
But it, too, seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.
And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed my world.
Over the last decade that I’ve had this quote in my possession, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve paused to read it. And here’s why: Out of all the definitions of leadership I’ve encountered; all the books on leadership I’ve read; and all the courses, programs, and seminars on leadership I’ve attended; the simplicity of these words perhaps captures it best. Leading is choosing to accept responsibility and taking the initiative to promote the change we want to see—one opportunity at a time.
Are promoting change in yourself so you can get busy making the most of every opportunity to build value into your surroundings?