Congressmen Ami Bera, David Cicilline, Rodney Davis and Adam Kinzinger talk problem solving.
Why do we have so many politicians, and so few leaders? Maybe because most politicians never learned how to be leaders.
The problem today is that most politicians confuse being in charge or having power with being a leader. It is their way, because they know what is right. It is their way, because their group supports it. But saying it is their way or no way is not leadership; it is dictatorship. The problem today is that most politicians forget that learning to lead is like learning to walk.
Think about walking. Lean forward. Put one foot forward, leaving stability behind. Start to fall. Catch yourself with the other foot. Regain your balance. Repeat the process. Do it again and again, and you are walking. Do it even faster, and you are running.
A baby learns to walk by learning to fall, first clumsily and then carefully. Walking is actually controlled falling. Walking is falling while remaining upward. Walking is learning balance.
Think about leading. Set off in a direction. Start moving forward. Leave stability behind. Start to fail. Catch yourself. Alter your direction. Regain your balance. Repeat the process and you are leading. Do it again and again, and you are a leader.
A leader learns to lead by learning to fail, also clumsily at first and then carefully. Leading is actually controlled failing. Leading is failing upward. Leadership is learning balance.
Leadership, like walking, is taking a series of controlled risks of failing, or falling, and then succeeding. You must not be afraid to try, and you must be agile enough to catch yourself, shift your balance, and continue to move forward.
Life itself, like leadership and like walking, is a series of steps that are arrested and redirected falls and failures. First you are clumsy, and then you learn to be careful and in control. Finally, you learn balance.
Taking risks, not being afraid to fail, shifting your balance, catching your fall, and continuing onward are the secrets to leadership and to success. When you embrace perseverance, exhibit balance, and embody perspective and judgment, you are a leader.
Politicians today have no balance. They resort to labels, attacks, and ultimatums, because they cannot persuade with calm reason. They cannot lead. They lurch and are unstable like a child learning to walk. We want politicians who will not merely walk with stability – that is, lead and govern us well and wisely – but who will also walk with grace and poise – that is, lead us in a way that makes us want to follow them.
Art Bushkin is a writer, philanthropist and social activist. His principal causes are Harnessing the Power of Technology for Social Good and Devout Politics: A World Working Well. For more on Art, check out ArtBushkin.com