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Conviction: Earning Your Mettle of Honor

 By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

           Surely, the professor would cancel the class. After all, why should he commute 100 miles round trip –twice a week– on snowy country roads in the dead of winter for only two students ? The professor–my kind of  leader — knew why.  Mr. Man-of-his-Convictions conducted the advanced college class in astrophysics.

Professor drove 100 miles round trip twice a week to teach 2 students.

      And 10 years later, both of his students in that class at the University of Chicago–Chen Ning Yang and Tsung-Dao Lee– won the Nobel Prize in physics.

        Leaders like Professor Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Ph.D., follow their convictions without regard to economies of scale or personal convenience.

                   They charge down the road of achievement with a kettle full of mettle– a kettle full of “vigor and strength of spirit” as the dictionary defines “mettle.” And it pays off. The professor also won the Nobel Prize in Physics 36 years later in 1983.

       That Gandhi-like spirit of conviction, that spirit of self-less service, that spirit of total dedication marks the most effective leaders I have known over the years. To me, real leaders:

  1. Don’t bide by  their position power
  2. Don’t hide behind their titles
  3. Don’t ride behind their tenure
  4. Don’t glide behind their diplomas
  5. Don’t slide behind their credentials

       Ghandi Never Held Any Official Leadership Position

           Consider Gandhi. He never held any official leadership position. He had no wealth. He commanded no armies. But he could mobilize millions, according to author Keshavan Nair in his book A Higher Standard of Leadership. Nair noted that: “People were willing to serve with him– and for him- because his life was devoted to serving them.”

      Author Harold Kushner captures that sense of service — that mantel of mettle — that inspires others: “Our souls are not hungry for fame comfort, wealth or power. Those create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will be at least a bit different for our having passed through it. “

   “I have promises to keep.  And miles to go before I sleep. “

         Especially traveling 100 miles over snowy roads as a matter of conviction. Whenever I think of Professor Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar driving those 100 miles, I think of Robert Frost’s poem: Stopping by the Woods on Snowy Evening. I picture the professor pulled off to the side of the road waiting for the snow to stop blowing until his visibility clears. I think of the professor looking off the snowy woods and shunning of the enticing woods that  are “lovely, dark and deep” because he has “promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”

                     Sometimes 100 miles to go. Over snowy roads. To teach a college class. For only two students. And earn his mettle of honor.

     Today’s ImproveMINT
Keep your commitments to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

You might also like these previous Leadership Mints on Commitment:
Reject Rejection
Keep Hope Alive No Matter the Score
Make Commitments Not Appointments

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