Saturday, February 5, 2011
8 lessons we can glean from President Obama’s life and political success - Part 1
This article is apolitical. It is also not a stamp of approval or disapproval on the moral or ethical values of President Obama. It is simply an insight into the life of one of the most prominent men in the world today. Someone who achieved a feat, that was thought practically impossible four (4) years ago. An African-American, who through his genius and communication skills literally blew open 200yrs of the American Political establishment.
I have watched and read excerpts from various political leading minds in America and no one gave him a chance at the onset. He was written off completely. His vision, faith and strategy stands as one of the greatest feats so far in this generation. What laws can we learn from his life? What were the forces at play that he might not even have been conscious of nor was enacted by his intellect that helped him accomplish something so monumental? Here are some lessons that I have gleaned...
First lesson is one of forgiveness
President Obama by all natural standards should be an offended man. He experienced emotional abandonment, first from his father at a very early age when he left home and abandoned him with his mother who later on also left him with her parents (his grandparents) to pursue another relationship with someone else.
He should have been bitter, but somehow he let go of all the pain and bitterness he could have held on to and still showed enormous respect and honour for his father in particular and his mother. He travelled all the way to the village his father was born in Kenya as a senator to discover his roots. He also wrote a book entitled the ‘dreams of my father’. He didn’t build his life around the offense that would probably have been created but rose above that challenge. He once said the not having his father at home made him lack a sense of identity and direction which he found only when he committed himself to the service of others as a community organiser in the South-Side of Chicago.
The truth about life is this: an offended heart cuts your productivity and creativity by at least 50%. At worst case it can ruin your life altogether. Your heart is the life force within you. It is the production centre of your life, the place where ideas beyond the range of your consciousness float in. This is the place where great composers have heard the music their fingers later played, great architects saw the buildings within their imaginations, Scientists cried out Eureka in a flash of a moment, the seat where great dreams are born can get contaminated and ruined by hate.
The exercise of the spiritual muscle called your heart is in forgiveness. As we get stronger naturally through physical exercise our hearts grow in its capacity to produce and we exercise ourselves in the act of forgiving. Scripture commands us to break up the fallow ground of our lives. This is through letting go of all hurts from our pasts and reconciling ourselves with those we dislike within our hearts so that our intent towards them is one of peace. Life would be difficult if you harbour an unforgiving attitude towards members of your first cell on the earth, your family.
Second lesson is he is a great communicator
President Obama was a man of the people. He has the ability to speak both to you and for you. This art of communication can only be discovered and developed through intellectual and emotional honesty. What do I mean by this? That one is honest with one’s self about where one really is in life and to understand that all real lessons can only be truly learnt in the context of your own personal experience.
In communicating, the other party must feel one’s emotional honesty and this can only happen if one is able to speak to the feelings the other has, due to what they are experiencing in their lives at that present moment. The ability to do that only occurs when you speak truthfully from your own personal experiences. It has been said that one can lack any of the qualities as an organizing leader with one exception and still be effective and successful. That exception is the art of communication. It does not matter what you know about anything if you cannot communicate to your people. In that event you are not even a failure. You’re just not there. You create your presence by being able to build a powerful narrative from your own personal experience that gives insight to others about what they are experiencing themselves.
Insight always goes viral.
Lesson 3: He believed in Education
President Obama believed that education was the tool through which he would achieve his dream. Nothing is more powerful than a disciplined, intelligent and compassionate mind. He believed that knowledge is power and sought the path of knowledge. What too many people of faith lack is an educated mind. They lack the knowledge of temporal things and a clear understanding of how the world truly works.
The Jews have a saying that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself; educating yourself. They say if you take a loan to get an education, it is an asset that can never be repossessed. It lives in you. It is the most powerful investment. Scripture teaches to your faith add virtue (character) and to that knowledge. It takes hardwork and discipline to acquire knowledge and to be educationally sound but if you do the hardwork life becomes easy through the application of knowledge. If you don’t do the work to acquire knowledge then life becomes laborious.
Many African-Americans in his generation saw sports or music as their ladder out of poverty, he embraced education. Make having an educated mind your goal in life and with that develop a pleasant personality. I once did a recording in a studio in New York; President Obama had used it during his campaigns. I asked the owner of the studio what struck him most about him? He said he just seemed to know much more about life than the regular guy. Five (5) minutes with him showed him as a man of knowledge.
Lesson 4: He was true to himself (A disciple of his own convictions)
Whatever you think about the ideological slant of President Obama he has demonstrated himself to be a true disciple of his convictions. How the belief system was formed is not the point of this article or even whether they are right but that he has demonstrated oneness with himself.
Through proper mentorship and his ability to interpret the events of his life into a narrative discovering the essence of his personal experiences was to be of service, he committed himself with a singleness of purpose to public service. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he could have chosen to the join the wealthy insider world of corporate America, rather he chose the path of service earning $12,000 (dollars) a year with a $2,000(dollar) allowance for a car for 5years.
While all his friends and classmates were heading to the Walls Street he headed to the South-Side of Chicago, one of the poorest and most dangerous areas in America. What could have led to that “crazy” decision? Just one thing; Clarity of Purpose and the Strength of Character to pursue your dream; demonstrated by his ability to break with the “pack”. This is what true leaders are made of and this is where they are born.
He knew where he was going and all the ships in his being were sailing in the same direction.
Greatness will start when in your actions and the choices you make; you are one with yourself and not denying yourself to be one with others.. Pastor Poju Oyemade