One thing came to mind while I was typing up a scholarship essay, and that was the idea of what it really means to be of service to others, as well as the implications of being a true leader.
"Listening is wanting to hear." - Jim Cathcart
I think that in devoting your time to serving others, you first need to gain an understanding about learning from past experiences, in order to build the future. In preparing for service, it is ideal to come across the voices and thoughts of individuals that have made the great strives towards innovation in the present. Whether science/technical, philosophical, or business related, every innovation has had a set of minds behind it that helped to make it great. Taking from what others know is a key input into creating a better outlook for the future, in whatever leadership or service endeavor is chosen. Jamaican politician and author, Marcus Garvey, once said that "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots." This can certainly be applied to the idea that looking back at the past is what helps to generate future successes, and something that good leaders certainly take into consideration in their service to others.
Learning is one aspect of molding a leader. Without it, no progress can be made. But there is another quality of leadership and service that stands out, and that is the ability to actually commit to doing service, where others would put it off, or simply not have the motivation to do it at all. When someone takes the label as a leader, they have an idea in their head, as well as ways to actually implement the ideas. With this, it is crucial in understanding that when going to do service, responsibility must be taken, and therefore, there needs to be commitment and motivation in doing so. Love of humanity is generally a strong motivator for those that do charity for those less fortunate. Patriotism is what drives the courageous to defend the people they love. History is what drives educators to help others understand what the future should be. There should never be dishonesty or shame in being the first to take the responsibility to committing to service, because that is what creates a leader. I quote Mahatma Gandhi with "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." With the understanding of taking responsibility to do something out of the ordinary, in service to others, a leader is created.
Upon understanding the past and its role in the modeling of leadership and service, as well as the ability to commit to responsibility others would not pursue, another important lesson is understanding the role of a boss, and that of a leader.
A boss can easily be described as someone who commands and gives orders to others. We have these in life. Work for a restaurant, or a clothing store. You WILL have someone that simply gives orders that are expected to be followed. On the other hand, a leader is someone who will go above and beyond to commit to service and charity while motivating others to follow along in their path. They will helps others to take the responsibility of service, even if done indirectly.
Now, lets jump back into the early 20th century, to the story of a young Albanian nun. Born and baptized in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, this young woman grew up with a devoutly catholic family, who sought to bring her up as one that was close with the church. In her earlier years, she attended school run by a convent, which she found as her calling to become a nun. Upon committing to her last profession of vows, she became inspired to teach others of the values of education, along with connecting students to the church. However, one day, during a train ride, she received a calling from a higher power, and knew that she was destined to do something for the greater good of humanity. Vowing to give up material possessions, while turning to a life of obedience and chastity, she began working with the slums of the poor and sick in India. Through her devotion, willingness to listen, and value of humanity, she would open a school and home in India for the poor and the sick. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa, gave her life to helping others in their time of need, and providing for them a light of hope. She definitely proved her leadership and service in the humanitarian work she did. Doing what others would never even think to do is what makes her stand out as a true leader.
“At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by "I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”
A leader doesn't give orders. A leader is not defined by making more money than their colleagues in what they do. A leader is defined by their ideas, attitude, and service to others.
I hope you found this to be a thought-provoking read on the simplicity of service and leadership!