Leadership is influence. The first question you have to ask yourself in order to find out if you are leadership material is: “Do I have influence over others?” If you can influence others, then you can lead. If you can lead, then you can influence others. Leaders initiate and make an impact in others’ lives. Is this you? Do you make an impact and initiate? Or do you wait for others to take the first step and then follow? There is nothing wrong with being a follower, it just means you have not learned how to lead. Furthermore, in order to lead, you must also know how to follow. Leadership attributes are hard to measure, but I will tell you this, leaders are winners. Leaders take the wheel and drive the bus. Leaders do not motivate, they inspire. You follow a leader because of what is in it for you. Additionally, a good leader does not stand on top of the mountain and calls his people; a good leader comes down from the mountain and takes his people up there with him. A good leader genuinely wants others to win. Just as Zig Ziggler used to say, “you can get anything you want in life, if you help others get what they want,” and that is exactly what leaders do. Leaders serve and help others achieve their goals. This is often hard for some people, because as humans we are competitive; we want to win and we want to beat others, so putting other people before ourselves does not always come so naturally to us. However, I guarantee you, that if you start putting others first, your life will drastically change. Will you be taken as a fool sometimes? Well, yes, but more often then not you will become liked, and you will get that chance to influence others. As speaker and author, John Maxwell says, “People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Maxwell is right; first you have to make that connection with people in order to achieve that common ground, then give them the very best by adding value to their lives.
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School or Work? I’m sure we have all heard that at one point in our lives, and I am also sure that as Hispanics we have also heard from our parents, “te vas a la escuela o a chingarle,” i.e. “either you go to school or you go to work.” This however, should not be the ideals we implement on our children. In order to change our culture, we need to stop the behavior that has been repeated throughout our generations. Most of our parents did not even get the chance to decide between school or work; they unfortunately had to work from a very early age in life to help the family. One of the problems with our culture is that it still puts education as an option, when it should be a must! Other cultures emphasize education as an integral part of one’s life. It is something that must be done; you can’t opt out. In other cultures, education begins to be enforced from the first time children enter school. We, as Hispanics, need to do the same with our own children. We can’t say, “either you go to school or you go to work.” We have to say, it is either you go to school or you go to school. Instead of asking, “Do you want to go to college or are you going to get a job?” We should ask, “Do you want to go to UCLA or USC?” We need to reinforce education from the time our children begin their academics. We need to read to our children, it is one of the best ways we can get them interested in books! We also need to pay special attention to our little girls; we need to teach them that they should be valued by their brains, not their looks. If we start emphasizing the latter, they will grow up thinking that they can easily get through life based on their looks and that they do not need education. I want to share an anecdote of my childhood and my academia. I remember as a little boy I used to come home excited with my report card because I had mostly A’s and some B’s, and I remember that my mom, instead of saying “congratulations,” would say, “how come they’re not all A’s?” You see, for my mom, B’s were not enough. I used to get angry, frustrated, and reproach her by telling her that B’s were not bad! I felt that because I had a couple of A’s, she should be proud of me! Now, as I have somewhat matured, I am actually so thankful that my mom pushed and challenged me to do better. I’m glad A’s were the standard, and I believe we should all pass the same concept towards our children. A’s should be the standard; education should be a must! As a culture, we are very hard workers, we value hard work and we take pride in it! I’m sure most of our fathers and mothers have worked their butts off through most of their lives! However, I am sure most of them also are not multi millionaires. We need to not only work hard, but also smart. Reason being, is that we might work hard but if we do not work smart, we will not be able to get the results we need or want. Working smart and hard leads to winning! Our culture instead of taking pride on how much over time we work, should take pride on how much time we study and how many hours we read. It is never too late to learn, and we should continue to learn new things until the day we die. In the end, what we all need to do is turn off the T.V. and open a book!
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