Leadership and confidence are two key intangibles that have a major effect on human behavior. Our nation is in desperate need of both right now.
From the beginning of time, despite how independent we may feel, we look for signs or signals before responding to situations. When the signals aren’t clear it causes confusion. When people are confused they act irrationally, and irrational activity causes misinformation and results in a serious lack of comfort or confidence. Without confidence, humans, like most species, figuratively put our collective heads into the sand and wait for an “all clear” signal.
The last few weeks we’ve seen and witnessed what happens in our society when we do not have strong, focused leadership that we can trust to guide us from a dangerous situation. Our political leaders continue to point fingers, the stock market is all over the board, we continue to get mixed signals through the media and their talking heads and the result is when in doubt we go into primal protection mode to defend against the fear of the unknown.
Consider for a minute Christopher Columbus and his quest to sail out into the ocean, believed to be flat by most people at the time, in search of better route to the east by going west. Not only did he have to convince King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to finance his plan, he had to convince those folks sailing on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria he knew what he was doing and where they were going. For his own purposes he shielded them from the truth regarding how far they had ventured and continued to demonstrate confidence and leadership, thereby avoiding a mutiny which would have caused not only failure but reinforced the common day belief that no such route existed. Despite the simple fact that up until his death he believed he had discovered a new route to Asia, what we know today is he had discovered the continent of America.
The bottom line was not that his belief was completely incorrect; the point I’m trying to make is that without taking risk and without confident belief in your actions, we fail to grow and without growth, our human nature is to stagnate.
We need leaders with vision who look fearlessly into the future and command our attention. The bigger the vision the greater the attention the person commands. It aalso goes without saying the larger the stage the larger the audience, so goes the risk versus the reward. Not every leader achieves his intended goal, such as Columbus, and not every leader will lead people in the right moral direction, such as Hitler, but that doesn’t mean that we should not gravitate to follow a leader, it only means that we need to wisely agree that his intent is a belief we share.
President Obama won the 2008 election and became our leader on the premise that he would bring about change and fix the issues that were affecting the country. The optimism that people felt upon his inauguration has worn thin, the issues have grown deeper and his leadership now appears in jeopardy. As the country and world waits for a new signal of optimism to capture our attention, we have to consider our own role in this continuing drama of life.
Are we leaders in our small circle? Do we encourage optimism and risk or are we more apt to let others lead and then point the finger of blame when the goal is not reached?
We all long for better days but we must remember each of us plays an important role in our families, local communities and even on larger stages. Leaders with vision and confidence don’t just happen. They are nurtured from small opportunities that begin at a young age and continue to grow in an environment that encourages and supports reaching new goals and taking risks.
Let’s make sure that in this time of uncertainty we don’t neglect or discourage our youth into thinking the United States isn’t full of opportunity and that their future looks every bit as promising as the one we were given. Challenges will always arise throughout the ages, and leaders must step up to accept the challenges despite the degree of difficulty, for in their failure they provide the motivation and opportunity for a new vision to capture our attention and provide the confidence we all need in our lives.
Dan Alexander is publisher and owner of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.