Leadership from Within

Right now, I am returning to Olympia from a week in São Paulo, Brazil. I was invited there by Lilian Kelian of Programa Jovens Urbanos and her organization, CENPEC. While I was in the city, I facilitated learning activities with many people, workshops, and spoke at a national education conference. Over the next week I am going to go into depth on all of those things and some of the deep impacts I feel from my trip. To begin though, I want to share my reflection on leadership from within.

There are many places where leadership happens. Lots of people look at government officials, business managers and politicians as leaders. Some watch the people on TV and the Internet, while others see rock stars and poets as leaders. Children often see their parents and teachers as parents, while young people sometimes look to adults for leadership.

None of these is wrong. However, the strongest leadership that any of us can experience is leadership from within. Inside each person there is a power, ability and strength that is undefeatable. This is practical, meaningful and substantive ability that every person has in their innate being. It can be squelched, suffocated and horribly oppressed. However, it can never be fully extinguished.

Reflecting on the people and things I saw, did, experienced and felt in São Paulo, I have seen myself anew. I have struggled for more than two decades to teach people a lesson I haven’t named, and that is this one: Every single one of us, no matter our condition, position, idea or opportunity, can lead ourselves to a better, stronger, higher, more effective, more meaningful and more fulfilling place. We can lead ourselves to peace through nonviolence, or we can lead ourselves towards living in exhilaration in every moment.

I will continue my struggle, but now with consciousness and deliberation. This work has never meant more to me than now, and I can see clearly that I still have more to do. Forward I go with leadership from within!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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