Thursday, October 1, 2015

Constantly Thinking: Street Sweeper: Servant Leadership

I decided to divide this post into 2 segments, posted a day apart from one another.  We started our discussion with our analysis of the first half of Martin Luther King Jr.s Street Sweeper. As a bit of a reminder, in the first half of the speech MLK discusses the importance of being the best person that you are called to be regardless of what that calling is. This includes, not envying someone for being something or someone you were not meant to be.

Then MLK moves into a different direction with the speech, discussing self-fulfillment and the ways one can go about discovering it. Some people use others to find their fulfillment and upward mobility in their lives, both personally and professionally. While, another set of notable people, pull people up with them, seeking fulfillment in other's success.
"This onward push to the end of self-fulfillment is the end of a person’s life. Now don’t stop here, though. You know, a lot of people get no further in life than the length. They develop their inner powers; they do their jobs well. But do you know, they try to live as if nobody else lives in the world but themselves? And they use everybody as mere tools to get to where they’re going. They don’t love anybody but themselves. And the only kind of love that they really have for other people is utilitarian love. You know, they just love people that they can use."
Not to long ago I a wrote a post about Lean on Me Leadership, very  much inspired by the song Lean on Me, where I addressed servant leadership from a lean on me when your not strong different approach, however this is the same idea. One can claw their way to the top, leaving a trail of hurt and wounded people behind them. (Trust me, many people do...) But eventually, that same person may find themselves falling into that very same group of wounded and hurt people that they left behind.
"A lot of people never get beyond the first dimension of life. They use other people as mere steps by which they can climb to their goals and their ambitions. These people don’t work out well in life. They may go for awhile, they may think they’re making it all right, but there is a law. They call it the law of gravitation in the physical universe, and it works, it’s final, it’s inexorable: whatever goes up can come down. You shall reap what you sow. God has structured the universe that way. And he who goes through life not concerned about others will be a subject, victim of this law."
Servant leadership is a means of attaining fulfillment, not self fulfillment, in the most appropriate way. We cannot live as if we are the only person living. We cannot lead as if we are the only person on our team that matters. We cannot believe that we are always the smartest person in the room. We do what we do to find a level of fulfillment that is greater than ourselves.

Knowing what we know now, and seeing what we see now, what would MLK say about our leadership and out best selves today, at every aspect of life?

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