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Be Good To Yourself

The Born Leader

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A stranger, unfamiliar with American methods, on going into one of our big establishments might get the impression that the hundreds of employees who are hurrying and scurrying about, doing a great deal of talking and bustling, are responsible for the enormous volume of business being done.

But if they should go into a certain private office in the establishment, they would probably find sitting there at his desk, a quiet, serene, level-headed man; a man probably of very few words, who dominates and controls all the activities of the hundreds or thousands of employees. He is the head and center, the moving force behind all the hurry, bustle, and show.

The person who aspires to leadership must be an organizer. They must not only read people like an open book, but also judge accurately what to do with them; how to weigh, measure and place them.

It seems as natural and as easy for some people to lead, to command, and to control others, as to breathe. There is something in their very personalities that dominates others. They are born leaders. They do not need to exercise great willpower. They conquer by the very force of their presence— their character—as Hercules conquered those who looked upon his gigantic, powerful figure. No matter what situation they are in, they dominate.

Put a lot of strange cattle together and they will very quickly decide which is to lead the herd. They will lock horns for a while and test their strength, but when the leader has once asserted itself, by common consent of the rest, who do not question it after the first test, it is master.

On every board of directors or trustees, in every organization, there is always one who easily overtops the others; there is always one individual who by tacit consent of all the rest is recognized as spokesperson, as leader.

The leader is always characterized by positive qualities. He or she rules by their vigorous affirmatives. There is nothing negative or minus about them. The positive person, the natural leader, is always assertive, while the negative one shrinks, effaces themselves, waits for someone else to take the initiative. A natural leader does not need to urge those under them. They will follow wherever he or she goes.

A good chess player must be able to see a dozen moves ahead. They must keep constantly in mind the unexpected, so that they may meet every move of their opponent.

Looking ahead is characteristic of the leader. It is the person who can see far into the future that is wanted everywhere. The person who can provide for the unexpected, for the emergency, is the safe person. On the other hand, there is such a thing as knowing so much and seeing so much that it makes one timid about undertaking the lead.

Someone says: "It is generally the person who does not know any better who does the things that cannot be done. You see, the blamed fool does not know that it cannot be done, so they go ahead and do it."

Scholarship often kills initiative. Scholars are proverbially timid when it comes to great undertakings. The person who knows little outside of the particular thing they undertake frequently has courage because he or she does not see the risks, the possible dangers of failure, of disaster, as clearly as a more intelligent, better educated person sees them. His or her range of vision is narrow; they just see the step they are taking, and so plunge in with all their energy and enthusiasm.

Everywhere there are people who murder the English language every time they open their mouths; men and women who know almost nothing of books or schools, who are doing things that the college-bred person shrinks from attempting.

Whether the leader be educated or uneducated, they are always able to draw the line between theoretical knowledge and practical ability. They know that ability that cannot be practically applied is useless so far as their work is concerned. There were many men under General Grant who were better educated, more cultivated, more widely read than he, but who could not transmute their knowledge into power. On the other hand, what Grant knew he could turn to practical use.

You cannot be a general and a private at the same time. You must either lead or follow; you must either make the program or help carry it out. You cannot do both if you expect to do anything big.

The success of the great general depends largely upon his ability to surround himself with a staff of officers who can carry out his orders, execute his plans. Grant had many officers who could work harder than he, but he could out-general them all.

A leader must be a person of prompt decision. If he or she vacillates, if he or she never quite knows how to take the next step without consulting someone else, their followers, their employees will soon lose respect for them.

"You cannot do the biggest things in this world unless you can handle people, and you cannot handle people if you are not in sympathy with them."

The greatest leaders are those who combine executive ability with kindness and consideration. Employees will not only follow such a leader, but will also follow them enthusiastically, work for them nights and holidays— do anything to help them along. But if they see mud at the bottom of his or her eyes, if he or she lacks the qualities of leadership, if they see nothing in him or her to admire and respect, they will follow, if they follow at all, as the slave follows his master.

There is no system, there are no rules of business by which a person can force people to be loyal to them and enthusiastic for their welfare. There must be qualities in him or her which will call out the voluntary confidence and respect of others. They must see that he or she is businesslike, that they have executive ability, that they have the qualities of leadership. Then they will follow with zeal and loyalty.

If you are a leader, and employer in any line, it is idle to expect that you can call out of your employees' qualities which are vastly superior to those you possess yourself. The very idea of leadership is superiority, force of character, executive push, the ability to plan and put an undertaking through to a finish.

If you are afraid of making enemies, do not try to lead, for the moment you step out of the crowd and show originality, individuality, you will be criticized, condemned, caricatured. It is human nature to throw stones at the head lifted above the crowd.

No great leader ever yet escaped the jealousy and envy of those who could not keep up with him or do what he did. A leader must be positive, aggressive; must have an iron will, an inflexible purpose, and boldness bordering on audacity; they must be able to defy criticism without being insensible or indifferent to it.

Some of our great leaders have been extremely sensitive in this respect. Criticism was very painful to them, yet they had the qualities of leadership which urged them on in spite of the pain caused by harsh and unjust criticisms. Many worthy young men have retired from the race for leadership because of the sting inflicted by the malice and envy of their fellows. They did not think the honey worth the sting.

Large leadership today calls for great breadth of view, for the same qualities which made the leader in the past, but much enlarged and developed to meet the needs of our time. The vast combinations, the enormous interests involved in our large concerns today require colossal leadership.

"Organization is the one over-towering necessity of the times. It comes logically of the vast interests put into one business through incorporated capital." There never was such a demand for leaders, men and women who can do things, as there is today.

One great flaw in the education of the young is its failure to develop individuality. Boys and girls with the most diverse tastes and talents are put through the same curriculum. The dull boy and the bright boy, the dreamy book lover and the matter-of-fact realist, the active, inventive spirit, and the one whose soul is attuned to hidden music, the youth with the brain of a financier, and the one who delights in mimic warfare and strategic games—all are put into the same mold and subjected to the same processes.

The result is inevitable. Nine-tenths of the children educated in this machine-like fashion are copies of one another and reproductions of the same pattern. Our system of education tends to destroy individuality.

Except in cases where special talents and characteristics are so marked that they cannot be dulled or blunted by any amount of conventional training, the collective method of education destroys individuality, nips originality in the bud, and tends to make the child a weakling, or an imitator, instead of an original, forceful, distinct entity.

A great many people remain trailers all their lives, followers of others, echoes instead of realities, because their distinctive qualities, their original powers, were not developed, called out, or encouraged in youth.

What a sorry sight is a person with great possibilities of leadership following somebody else all their life, seeking the advice of others when they are amply able to give it, and never daring to venture on their own judgment, because they have always leaned upon others, or depended upon someone else to lead the way! His or her common sense and power of independent decision, their strongest inherent qualities, lie dormant within them. They are doing the work of a pygmy when they have the undeveloped capabilities of a giant, all because of a lack of proper individual training.

True education, the education for which the world is ripe, is unfoldment, calling out the germs of possibilities, developing original force, fostering self-reliance, encouraging and stimulating initiative power and executive ability, cultivating all the faculties, and exercising, strengthening and buttressing them.

We want leaders and originators more than we want followers or imitators. We have enough, and to spare, of those who are willing to lean on others. We want our young people to depend on themselves. We want them to be so educated that their qualities of leadership, their originality, and their individuality will be emphasized and strengthened instead of obliterated.

Self-assertion, the spirit of independence, the courage, the manhood, the womanhood which respects its own powers and is determined to rely upon them, and belief in oneself, the qualities which characterize a leader, can be cultivated by every human being. But if these qualities are not drawn out in youth they may forever lie dormant in the soul.

Scores of college graduates, who have won their diplomas legitimately and honorably, fail hopelessly when they attempt to grapple with the practical side of life. They have not qualifies of leadership, no independence of thought, and no self-reliance. They are stuffed with facts and theories, but their executive faculties, their powers of combination and assimilation, the qualities which grasp and hold and manipulate, all lie dormant within them.

They were not trained when young to depend upon their own judgment, hence it is weak, hesitating, and uncertain. Their common sense has never been put to the test. They do not know how to be aggressive, or how to marshal their facts and theories and reduce them to working proportions.

Whatever you learn in school or college, remember that it is the executive talent, the ability to do things, the power of achievement that counts. It is not the great scholar, who is brimful of facts and theories, but the practical person, who knows what they ought to do and who will do it, who deals with conditions, not theories, and who can bring about results, that is in demand everywhere.

Education is not a stuffing of the memory with facts and theories until it becomes like an unwieldy encyclopedia or dictionary that cannot be handled with ease. A really educated person is not loaded down with text-book information that they cannot put into practice. They know how to utilize every bit of their knowledge. Their education gives them executive power, and makes them master of themselves, with ability to manipulate perfectly all the powers that God has planted in their soul.

The person who is rightly educated will never be a leaner, imitator or follower. He or she may not, necessarily, be a great leader, but they will not seek their opinions from others; they will trust their own judgment, will pilot their own barge, no matter how rough or troubled the waters, will be themselves, and will live their own life, wherever their lot may be cast.

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