Everyone has the potential to approach the levels of achievement and leadership that Dr. Martin Luther King forged during his unfortunately truncated life. Countless people before and after his times have led anonymous, ordinary, and perhaps unsatisfactory lives. This can change with effect from whenever an individual combines determination and integrity with a diligent study of how Dr. King functioned. There are four cardinal dimensions to Dr. King’s life from which all of us can learn and seek inspiration.
Dr. King came from a humble and very ordinary background. His father was a member of the clergy, and Dr. King followed suit as a young adult. He did not finish high school, though he reached the very pinnacle of higher education in later life. He participated in protests for causes in which he believed, even as a teenager. These were not momentous or celebrated movements, but they did conform to his ideals. We can learn from this that one does not have to be a Rockefeller, Ford, or Kennedy to make a mark in life. There may be restrictions in countries ruled by dictators, but the sky is the proverbial limit in a free society. Furthermore, success does not always come at the outset. It pays to stay the course and to function in all circumstances to the best of one’s ability.
Dr. King’s compassion stands like a lighthouse in the darkness of global force, abuse of power, and hatred. The Civil Rights movement is best known for its unswerving commitment to non-violence, but all of Dr. King’s struggles demonstrated his peaceful and loving ways. Numerous followers were given to violent ways but eschewed force when they marched under his banner. His protests were always determined and courteous at the same time. Most people succumb to temptations of unethical force in order to achieve their goals. Leadership is often viewed in strident and even aggressive terms. That is why deep reflection on Dr. King’s convictions is so important: it can inspire budding leaders of tomorrow and a fresh resolve to abide by peace and love.
The third key dimension of Dr. King’s life was his quest for constructive associations with eclectic people from far and wide. The spatial distance between his homeland and India made Dr. King’s adherence to the ways of Mahatma Gandhi famous. However, he also had important advisors at home. Some of them were involved with controversies of the time, yet Dr. King never hesitated to listen carefully to their counsel on issues of their expertise and wisdom. There is a conventional tendency for individuals to cluster around like minds. Dr. King has taught us to expand our horizons by considering alternate viewpoints from multiple quarters.
The fourth major aspect of how Dr. King functioned is perhaps the most robust guide for those who aspire to lead others. Dr. King remained true to his conscience. Witness for example, how he fought his own country over the Vietnam War. Humane considerations scored over blind patriotism in the mind of Dr. King. There have been other notable citizens who fought the violent oppression of their countries, but none as sustained and exemplary as Dr. King. This constitutes a vital lesson from his life in the current age of mass media and state influences on independent thinking.
We can conclude that ordinary people can and should aim high. Everyone has legitimate rights to find groups of individuals to lead. Constraints are more often imagined than real. May Dr. King continue to inspire us towards superlative achievement!