Leadership and Rights, The Paradox

Rights, a paradox of leadership. In most cases, people become leaders to defend or increase the rights of others. Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington, Gandhi and Mother Teresa are easy examples. Think about Steve Jobs, your local insurance agent, professional athletes and your local AC repair guy. The leaders in these fields defend others’ rights as well. At the very core, they defend people’s rights to have a choice in products, service and employment. Given our free enterprise system, that right that they are defending is paramount to our country’s growth.

The paradox is, to be a leader and defend other people’s rights, you must give up the very right you are defending.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the victims of racial discrimination and segregation. To be a leader he had to give up his right to be a victim.

Henry Ford was a leader who offered affordable transportation to the average middle-class income earner. To be a leader he had to give up his right to be average.

Michael Dell defended peoples’ rights to have greater choices in personal electronics. To be a leader he had to give up his right to fit in with the status quo as he was expelled from college for making and selling computers on campus.

Michael Jordan created the highest spectator demand for the NBA. To be a leader, he gave up his right to be a spectator.

Your local AC repairman gives up his right to a comfortable work environment.

Doctors give up their right to work in a healthy environment.

George Washington led a fledgling group of disjointed Colonies to defeat the strongest army in the world. The colonies had been under the tyranny of King George III. Washington’s leadership started a ragtag, disconnected community on its path to becoming a great nation. To lead, he gave up an innumerable amount of rights, the most noteworthy of which was the right to accept the title of King. After the war, the Continental Army had conspired to make George Washington King of America. With a short and simple speech George Washington disbanded the conspiracy and gave the world the right to live without tyranny.

Who’s rights are you defending? What rights are you willing to give up to be the leader they need?