Advice for the President and other leaders

President Barack Obama,

Sir congratulations on your reelection.  Feelings of relief or celebration from you and your team of supporters need to be put on hold.  Now is the time for leadership which the United States of America needs desperately.  I know that you love basketball, and the sport provides great lessons on the value of teamwork versus individuality which can be applied in other areas of life.  When John Wooden graduated from Centerton Grade School, his father gave him a small card titled “7 Suggestions to Follow.”

1) Be true to yourself

2) Help others

3) Make each day your masterpiece

4) Drink deeply from good books, especially the Good Book

5) Make friendship a fine art

6) Build a shelter for a rainy day

7) Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings each day

It is simple advice on being an individual but a precursor to being a leader.  Sometimes a leader has to be firm, sometimes flexible, more often the strength to be gentle, and occasionally the strength to command compliance.  A leader must understand the difference between offering an opinion and giving advice.  The leader must also be the type of individual whose opinion is sought and means something.  A leader does not advocate the way, but instead demonstrates the values and principles that are the prerequisites for achieving success along a path.  A leader does not criticize others or cast blame upon others.  Leaders enforce the idea that a great player who is not a team player is in reality not a great player.  Leaders are the hardest on themselves as they need to be a model for others based on earned respect.  In other words, leaders are out on the floor working alongside and demonstrating the power of cooperation not just through words but actions.

We do not care about who does what, or who gets credit; we care about whether the country is better or worse.  The straits of the country are so complex that there is no single correct way.  Recognize those shades of gray.  Use both the head and the heart, don’t just see with your eyes, listen; don’t just listen with your ears, see.  Find that balance and remember that trust begets trust.

There are too many self imposed divisions among people, but throughout the course of history and regardless of location the concept of taking care of your own has often been applied.  That attitude does not have to be a negative belief, however, because here in the United States, we are not Democrats, Republicans, Men, Women, or any other division.  Gender, race, ideology, ethnic backgrounds, regions, and economic status may differ, but they differ inside the grouping that we are all people within one division, the United States of America.  Therefore taking care of your own means not just those who appear or think as you, but also those who do not.

Can you imagine the dullness if everything and everyone were identical?  What makes the United States great are our differences.  One size may not fit all, but we can all benefit from the different strengths, compensate for the different weaknesses, and most importantly learn from and overcome the mistakes of any and all to continue the opportunities and privileges we have in this country.  Whether warranted or not, the leader receives credit or blame, but every member of the team has a stake in the game and season.