This is a load of horse shit.

As has often been the case this summer, The West Wing has once again been a source of inspiration for deep thoughts and this blog which accompanies them.  Sadly, these thoughts mostly occurred at about 2am last night and I was too tired to get up and put them to words.  I’m not in one of my writing trances, so forgive me!

Some people are born with all the qualities of a leader.  They are intelligent, charismatic, and posses a will stronger than most.  Many times they are born into wealth and receive the full gamut of opportunities accessible only to those born into a privileged home.  Yet, not every one of these people are leaders.  Why?  Because all these traits and circumstances are simply tools.  The most intelligent person will easily follow a far inferior intellect if he does not apply himself to leadership.

At the Gettysburg College 2010 Emerging Leaders Retreat a heavy topic of discussion was whether leaders are born or made.  I do not agree everyone is a leader, as was mentioned several times, nor do I think only those born with innate prowess can ever achieve leadership.  I find myself drawn to the middle road (as is often the case).  No doubt an astounding IQ and oratory like that of MLK can easily propel anyone to leadership status.  Natural both charisma and intellect are helpful, but they are just tools.  The real identifier of a leader is a choice.

The choice is one of being willing to sacrifice whatever it may take to lead people in a particular endeavor.  The sacrifice may be small.  It may be working extra hours, giving extra money, or denying oneself certain pleasures.  Or the sacrifice could be immense, and one could give up the comfortable life he would otherwise live in favor of fighting for a cause.  Why?  Because leadership is not about intelligence, experience, or education.  At it’s core, leadership is simply about a mindset.  Nothing and no one can determine a person’s ultimate mindset except himself/herself.

“With great sacrifice comes great opportunity.”
The Camel Club, David Baldacci