There are many great men and women who have distinguished themselves in public service. What is it that allows them to succeed where others fail?
To paint with a very broad brush, one can suggest that there are two different types of failed politicians.
The first type is the straight-out villain, who is unashamedly out to feather his or her own nest. They might talk the good talk in public; they might make all the right noises about transparency and accountability while trying to get elected. But get to know them personally, and you’ll quickly be disabused of the notion that there is a single altruistic fiber in their being.
A subset of this first class is the incompetent bungler who is wily enough to make his way into politics despite his ineptitude, and has guile enough to stay there for decades, battening at the public purse. They would never survive in the commercial world, where people are judged by results and where failure is rewarded by dismissal, not a pension for life.
The second type of failed politician is the honest, well-meaning, truly dedicated man or woman who wants to make a difference and leave a positive influence on the world. They try hard in the common cause, and sacrifice their health and family life in their dedication to their constituents. They are certainly well-intentioned, but seldom enjoy longevity. Like moths consumed by the flame of their own altruism, they tend to quickly burn out and, all too soon, disappear from public life, having run out of ideas and finding it impossible to maintain their high standards.
A true leader rises above the divide between either of these options. Their focus is on serving others, but they do not forget the need for self-actualization and self-improvement in the process.
A leader is a luminary, filling the room with the light of his own personality. Leadership is the act of being there for others, and impacting their lives for the better.
But a leader cannot just talk the talk to others; he has to become a paradigm of excellence in his own right.
We all have the capacity for accomplishment, and the responsibility and ability to lead. Our main purpose in life is to reach out and bring the light in to the hearts and minds of all. However, we have a concomitant responsibility to ensure that our own spiritual house is in order and that we live up to the ideals that we publicly espouse. If we can operate on these two fronts as one, then we have lived up to the standards of following in this path of goodness. [Elisha Greenbaum]