Learning from Mr. Obama

1. belief in perfection: belief in and pursuit of perfection as an attainable goal
2. living by high ideals: aspiring to or living in accordance with high standards or principles

3. belief that material things are imaginary: the philosophical belief that material things do not exist independently but only as constructions in the mind

Ah, idealism. It is a malady that most of the free world is born with. I guess the good news is that it slowly dissipates with age (in most cases, at least). Some are simply carriers of this disease, while others are life-long sufferers :-) I am an idealist in every sense of the word! Everything I do is tainted with idealism...give me a day in a new setting and I can tell you what needs to change. I get all pumped up over causes and frustrated when I cannot fix them.
I am a young person. No, I'm no longer in high school or college, but I am still relatively young. My youth has blinded me to my own idealistic insanity on multiple occasions...usually, to my own detriment. They say hindsight is 20/20...I don't know if that's always true, seeing as how I've made the same mistakes a couple times. However, with each passing year, my impulsive and idealistic self is learning to make wiser, more pragmatic decisions.
When I was in AP US History and then again in Government, good old Mr. Burns left a couple impressions on me. One, he made sure I was registered to vote, even though I was not quite 18. He made certain that ALL of his students understood their duty as citizens of the United States...to VOTE, to simply show up at the polls and make one's voice heard. He also made certain that we understood the basic Bill of Rights, the Constitution, etc. He laid out a thorough understanding of the requirements for running for public office...which as a younger American, I felt were a little steep, especially when it came to age!

I used to believe that what the White House needed was youth...a fresh perspective...someone who could see things the way they could be, not so much as they are! No, I did not vote for Mr. Obama. However, I was slightly tempted to vote for him due to his age, his fervor and the "freshness" that he could bring to the Oval Office. I did my research, I studied the facts, I looked at the issues. Here's what made my decision not to vote for him... He kept promising change...ALL OVER change...but he never outlined a plan for any of his proposed changes. It sounded great on paper...every idealist in America wants REAL change. But ideals were not convincing enough...

Now, Mr. Obama is the 44th president of the United States of America. He and Michelle and their beautiful daughters are a lovely family. I love that they set a nice model of a healthy African American family.  I tend to disagree with most of his politics but he is my president and I refuse to bash him.

That said, I think that watching Mr. Obama's leadership, we can see the quintessential young, idealistic leader. He is led by his own set of ideals...in many ways, I see his Utopian ideals and I understand why he does what he does. However, almost every initiative that I have seen set forth from the White House is impulsive and reactionary...the result of youthful, inexperience... Yes, in a day and age that idolizes youth, I DID just say that.

I once heard a wise (older) someone say, you eat an elephant the same way you eat a mouse, one bite at a time. Perhaps, one could swallow a mouse (I'm not sure why anyone would want to, but it is feasible). BUT imagine trying to swallow an elephant? HAha... yeah... not gonna happen.

Age teaches one to pace oneself...to choose battles wisely...to focus on the essentials and not to major in the minors. As much as we would ALL like to be heroes and do something that changes everything...we simply CANNOT. We humans are finite, we have limits...

Most leaders have boundaries and time parameters within which to work, presidents have four years to leave a legacy (occasionally, eight...if we're lucky, this one won't). What I've seen Mr. Obama do is take the helm of this massive ship called the United States of America and try to go in too many directions. He has tried to conquer the economy, health care, foreign policy, energy...what's next? The problem when you try to do everything...you don't do anything well. And often you create more problems.

What I'm beginning to realize is that a good leader see the whole picture and holds hope for change in multiple areas. Perhaps he or she plants seeds in various areas, but he or she picks a few specific things to focus on. Then, that leader builds a team of experts who then work with said leader to make an incremental plan for change...

There's an old church joke that goes like this. How do you move a piano from one side of the stage to another? (Every pastor knows, you can't simply move the piano...WWIII would be imminent with a swift resignation pending ;-) You move it an inch per week...then everyone will insist it's always been there.

I can see where this has already been happening in the ideals of our nation over the last 30-50 years...people do not look at government or history the way they once did. But there are still enough people in this nation who look at the USA as a sovereign nation that they are proud to represent... those people do not take kindly to instant change...in EVERY area. Frankly, I'm somewhat glad for our president's impulsive idealism because if he were older and wiser, those who oppose his politics would not know what hit them.

To my fellow young leaders, learn from our president...don't try to lead solely by your emotions and ideals, let those guide your decisions, BUT look at the bigger picture, assess the situation and your own skill set, then choose a few important areas upon which to focus. Build a team. Make a plan for change...a plan is vital...that plan can be tweaked, but without a WRITTEN plan, you'll end up the same place you started. Then, begin to implement that plan, in stages...a time-released change.

...without a vision the people perish...
...there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors...

Sound familiar? A great place to learn wisdom is in the Scriptures...start in Proverbs...

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