“Cultivation of mind should be the ultimate aim of human existence.” — Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
In January, I was asked to speak about leadership with 1700+ graduate students from the Department of Professional Studies at Christ University, Bangalore. The Student Council organized the Anvaya event as a space for reflection, affirmation and celebration of all that had been accomplished.
My speech discussed the four core values I try to practice to live as a leader or walk by example:
- Freedom of the mind is the only freedom that will make sure the only person who has mastery over you — is you! Without this freedom, we are always at risk of being enslaved by the thoughts and feelings of others.
- The pursuit of justice is key to being human in a dehumanising world. If you are not unrelenting about injustice, negative energy will thrive in your life, like an infection that only grows. No one should be comfortable with any unjust systems and contexts we are a part of, otherwise they will never change.
- Foster individuality since it is the only real contribution we each have to give this world. It may come in the form of your creativity, your emotions, and every thing you have ever considered weird about yourself.
- Embody your truth every step you take in the world. This one takes time to be aware of, guts to enact and a LOT of experience to perfect the art.
When these values are particularly difficult to practice (which they inevitably will be), take it easy instead of doubling down with shame and guilt. Life is a journey and every day is another opportunity to get it right.
As I told the students, “I know many of you feel overworked and like the weight of expectations are outweighing your own thoughts, your aspirations, your dreams. I’m not going to try and motivate you to be comfortable and push through this, because it is not motivation that will get you through your hardest days — it is knowing your values and the disciplined habits you build around them.”
“…it is not motivation that will get you through your hardest days — it is knowing your values and the disciplined habits you build around them.”
The four values I mentioned above can be taken as mere examples. They are a result of my own experiences and perspective. Every human being walks their own unique path and every leader must be able to verbalise their own value system, especially since it is likely to change as they change.
After all, the difference between just living and living as a leader lies in the values that a person consistently demonstrates.