Monday, January 17, 2011

Content of your Character

In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, was the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace prize at the age 35. A year before he won it, he gave a speech in Washington,D.C., which became his famous "I have a dream" speech. In it he stated, 

"I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." 

Obviously Dr. King was speaking out against the racial inequality of  that time and rightfully so. The last part of that quote struck a cord with me though. I thought, "Isn't that a good standard to judge everyone by?"

The content of your character is something that you should hold on to hard and fast. It's more then just "Your Name" or what you have stood for. I believe that in context, Dr. King was talking about your intrinsic value. Your very nature, what makes you tick, what you stand for, your moral fiber if you will. These are the things that you should stay true to. You should not be swayed by winds of change or out of fear. Dr. King lived these principles, he showed by example how to lead and ultimately gave his life for the very principles and values he stood for. 

When Dr. King's house was bombed on January 30, 1956, with his wife and daughter in the house. Many expected that this would be the event that would cause him to act out against his very message of non-violent protest. He didn't, he came out of his bombed out home to address the angry mob of people who had came in outrage to the bombing and spoke to them. 

"We are not advocating violence," he said. "We want to love our enemies...If I am stopped, our work will not stop, for what we are doing is right. What we are doing is just and God is with us."

Now keep in mind, his family could have been killed. He could have been killed, had it not been for the fact that he was at a rally that day when the bombing occurred. I have to be honest here, if my house would have been bombed with my family inside of it. I'm not sure that I would have been able to step out and speak of peace and love. I'm pretty sure that I would have been wanting to retaliate against those that had tried to harm my family and I. 

Dr. King stayed true to who he was and the message of what he was trying to accomplish. I believe that he knew that there where those that didn't agree with his message and where trying to goad him into making a rash decision based on emotion. The content of Dr. King's character wouldn't allow it though. Dr. King gives us an exceptional example here to follow, always stay true to who you are and the message or vision that you are leading, regardless of the circumstances or actions of others. 

There will be many times as a leader that the winds of change and fear will attempt to blow you off of course. You must stay true to your moral compass and the content of your character, which will allow you to lead by example and further empower you, your people and the vision of where you are going. 

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” ~ Jim Rohn

Has there every been a time when you had to adjust your sails due to changing winds?

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