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Leadership Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, we reflect on the accomplishments and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He changed a country.  That task must have seemed daunting, overwhelming.  Yet through threats, marital issues, violent and hateful attacks–he stayed the course of his vision.


Focus on the vision.  We can get bogged down figuring out “how” to get someplace.  The steps can overwhelm us.  In these moments, we need to go back to our original vision, our original motivation.  Let the dream itself inform our next action.  Re-inspire yourself by focusing on your original intention.

You CAN actually change the way people do things and what they believe.  A strong enough conviction can overcome all statistics/naysayers to the contrary.  This is not to say that, as leaders and business owners, we should ignore market research or analytics.  Instead, look at this information as baseline for developing tactics for change.  Dr. King reminds us that, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Develop a tribe.  People are your champions and ambassadors.  From low level employees to highly influential people in your community, every person in your tribe plays a role.  Do not discount anyone in your journey to success.  Everyone has something to offer if you are open to their insight.  This behavior inspires loyalty, and it is a tribe that can help a leader overcome obstacles.

Change the way you view fear.  Dr. King told journalist Robert Ellis Smith, ‘If you are not anxious, that means you are not engaged…you shouldn’t fear fear, you should go with it.’  As with many successful people, a slight change in the way we think and feel about a “negative” emotion or situation can propel us into real achievement.  Rather than shy away from fear, or try to overcome your fear, why not embrace it? Start looking at your fear as an indicator that you are doing something innovative, something with real value.

Click here to find other great articles on the entrepreneurial lessons learned from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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