Imagine jumping out of a skydiving plane and discovering your parachute doesn’t work. What memories would flash before you? Now imagine the parachute opened. How differently would you act when you landed?
I grew up thinking that being a leader was all about giving orders and being an untouchable figure. I have since realized I was all wrong.
It is unfortunate that most leaders today have distorted value sets, living in opulence and influencing corruption which holds back socio-economic progress threatening peace, security, and stability. As many young leaders try to stand for the truth with their well-guarded value sets, it has been impossible due to the leadership vacuum experienced across Africa, where dissent is crushed and alternative views are discarded, culminating in low accountability. This explains why most of the African countries continually experience bad governance, poor infrastructure, high taxation, poor border crossing policies and inequitable developments. Could this be because of leaders do not understand what leadership means and what it means to be a disciplined leader?
So, where does leadership and discipline adjoin?
Leaders are individuals who do things that failures are not willing to do even though they might not like doing them either. They have the discipline to do what they know to be important and right versus what is easy and fun as quoted by Robin Sharma.
A good example of a great leader is Tom Mboya, who massively influenced social and political revolutions in Kenya through trade unions, his writing and his value for friendship when he fought for the release of Jomo Kenyatta and other leaders who had been imprisoned.
A second example is Thomas Sankara, an army captain who took power during a coup d’état and one who strongly believed in changing foreign and domestic policies to influence change in his country. Often remembered through one of his powerful quotes, ‘while revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas.’
These stories paint determination, commitment, hope, purposefulness, perseverance, and selflessness in the hearts of many across Africa. Celebrated every day, not because of the properties they possessed but the values, they shared with their people in their journey of leadership that were rooted in proper discipline and mastery.
This affirms that leadership is more of what you do every day, by choosing to move away from doing it to being it. On the other hand, discipline equals freedom which creates the power to more flexibility and control over every personal aspect of your life and that makes a great leader. In the space of clear principles and intentionality, you find honor and the discipline to own the results of what you do and will yield your space with influence to call the shots because unconsciously you create trust within and without.
In the words of Peter Drucker, “You can either take action or you can hang back and hope for a miracle. Miracles are great, but they are so unpredictable.” This just emphasizes that in real leadership there is a mandate for a leader to have command of who they are and what they stand for. Being self-authentic and willing to take in the knowledge of personal mastery and the only enemy to this is fear. Fear that everyone won’t love you: That your choices will not make any difference as compared to past leaders forgetting that every human being is as powerful in the different purposes we serve.
It would be fulfilling to see young people support a political candidate who is not driven by self-interest, but their concepts, principles and the peoples’ need. Unfortunately, the opposite is what we constantly experience.
By being disciplined and authentic, you get the freedom to work under your own values, owning your voice and bringing the best out of yourself. This requires only fur critical skills; vision, influence, implementation and execution.
In the spirit of the national values that demands of patriotism, national unity, sharing and devolution of power, the rule of law, democracy and participation of the people amongst others, it is my call to all leaders and citizens of this great nation to choose service, not for you but for us all. Choosing Kenya and its people over self and choosing to push aside mediocrity and bad governance. Let us all champion for good leadership that is founded on self-discipline and the power of an excellent character.
As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” As Africans we must be able to deal with our problems. Help from outside is alright, but we must learn to be responsible for our own attitudes and discipline. We should be dedicated to lead with discipline and that’s how change is going to be part and parcel of us.”
So, my fellow Changemakers:
Cherish your visions.
Cherish your ideals.
Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts.
For out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
Each of us has an opportunity in this complex and noisy world to make some time each day to reflect on the how short life is, strengthen our commitment to goodness and then step out onto the street with a heart full of love.
Will you be hurt? Yes.
Will you be misunderstood? Yes.
Will you feel like closing? Of course.
To stand in the fires of challenge, resistance and adversity and still maintain your fundamental decency is the mark of genuine heroism.
This world needs heroes, you are one.
By: Edward Kipkalya, Governance Program Officer