Recently I attended a Town Hall meeting at which Doris Kearns Goodwin was the speaker. For one solid hour, without hardly taking a breath, she captivated the full house of attendees with stories about “her dead Presidents”. As a historian who has studied for thirty years and taught government at Harvard for 10 years, she is able to make “her dead Presidents” come alive. Sharing personal and often funny stories about these great men, Doris shared a totally different side of these men than what you read in the history books. She is more than a teacher, she is a story teller.
She spoke about ten top qualities of good leaders. Her advice to the audience regarding this upcoming election was to look at the present day candidates in regards to how they have led and what they have accomplished, what are their leadership skills, rather than who made the best jab at what we are calling debates. She spoke of four of her favorite presidents telling stories about them that made you understand their leadership qualities that made them so great.
One of her favorites is, of course, Abraham Lincoln. She spoke of her experience working with Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis on the movie “Lincoln” which is based largely on her book,”Team of Rivals”. She laughed telling the story of traveling with Daniel to Lincoln’s home a year prior to the announcement of his playing the role of Lincoln. They worried he would be recognized and blow the secret only to have “her” be the one people recognized!
One leadership quality she spoke of that really reasonated with me was ambition. What made these men ambitious? What drove them to seek such a powerful office? Lincoln said he had not yet done anything significant enough for people to remember him for.
Lincoln’s statement struck me so hard. That is exactly where I am in my journey! I have not done anything significant enough for people to remember me for. That “thing”, that “accomplishment” is what I am searching for. I know it will not be politics, especially in this day and age! As I continue to explore and experiment I am eliminating things and creating a “possibility” list. Everyday is a new journey and I get excited to find out what the day has in store for me. I am amazed at the people I am meeting and the opportunities I find myself involved with. Keeping the door opened and learning about new fields, getting different perspectives and hearing amazing stories is exhilarating for me. I hope that when this journey is finished and I have found “the thing” that I will have stories to tell that will excite people and perhaps teach them something. Tomorrow is another day!