Behind all the facade, beneath the externals, what is it to be a leader? I mean, a true leader. When I think of leaders I strive to emulate and mentally amalgamate all of their qualities into action steps, certain characteristics emerge and, surprisingly, in an orderly progression. Leadership is all about effecting change. The more visionary the leader, the more dynamic the impact of such change. The more selfless the leader, the more integrity pervades the outcome. But from where does leadership germinate? How does it evolve into moving others to action?
I believe that the seeds of leadership are born out of adversity. Those who have faced the greatest challenges and overcome them again and again make the most effective leaders. Leaders must first be able to lead themselves before they can lead others. They know how to deal with their own challenges before they can guide others to do the same. Emerging from enough crises, admittedly bruised and scarred, such victors begin to feel the power of their own inner-strength. They not only know that they pulled themselves out of the depths of a seemingly insurmountable situation, but gradually develop a security and confidence in knowing, if they did it once, they can do it again. Such self-belief begins to radiate, like an aura, in the form of positive energy touching all those who come within their range. It has a magnetic quality that draws others in and, perhaps unconsciously, makes them want to share in its ecstasy.
Over time, such models of leadership develop a balance in their lives and their perspectives. They strive to smooth out the jagged edges of their over-achievement and to enhance those areas of their lives that are not nearly developed enough. More often than not, they err on the side of understatement rather than on the side of exaggeration. They do not overreact to either praise or blame. Such leaders are cause-oriented, seeing life as a mission, an uncharted sea to be discovered, a less traveled road to walk down. They are fearless in their pursuits and uncaring about what others might think of their actions. They come to believe, beyond any doubt, in their own power to effect change. It is not a question of if but when it will happen.
Their leadership qualities are developed by listening, and through listening they are learning. The Japanese word for teacher is Sensei, which means honored leader. A leader is a teacher and a student coupled into a single ongoing process. It is a revolving, ever-maturing process of listening, learning, and leading.
Leaders have the ability to organize their own vision and purpose in such a way that they will inspire their followers toward the same end. The test of a leader is the ability to create an environment that brings out the best in others, passing on to them the will to carry out a common goal. They know that leadership is not about coercion. It is about empowering others to do what they did not know they could do, encouraging them to rise to their fullest potential. It is helping others discover and commit to their own convictions. Such leaders understand people’s fear of change. They have the ability to change people’s self-doubts and insecurities in the process of taking them from one paradigm to another, from a familiar place to a more risky one.
Leaders build on their own strengths and strive to complement their weaknesses with the strengths of others. They develop an ability to create one unified body out of many diverse members, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. A leader is born when change is effected. True leaders bring about worthwhile changes—changes that result in bringing the human and sacred world they touch closer in alignment to Oneness, to Goodness, to Love.
Born in Taipei, Taiwan and immigrating to America, Betty Sung is the living testimonial of this emerging leader I describe. As the third girl born to her Chinese parents, she grew up with the constant reminder that she was the son her parents could never have. Because of her childhood, Betty grew up with a determination to build her inner strength. Through marriage, she migrated to the United States in 1972, where she hoped the change would improve her plight.
In the early years, Betty’s arrival in the States was anything but the American dream. Speaking little English and lacking the skills valued most in the marketplace, she was forced to take almost any job she could find to support her child and husband who was on an academic scholarship. Because the pay was so inadequate, Betty usually worked three jobs simultaneously. She says softly, reflecting back on that period of her life, “It was a very tough time for me. So when a friend introduced me to network marketing, I began to compare this with what I was doing. I learned that, for the first time, I had the chance to leverage my income by leveraging my time.”
Through the networking industry, Betty saw the potential to explore her leadership skills. A year after joining a company, she had already attained the distinction of reaching the highest pay level. In time, Betty began traveling to Asia to help the company expand internationally. Through hard work, self-discipline, leading by example, assuming responsibility for her group, and respecting each person in her group, Betty built one of the largest network marketing organizations in the world.
Betty teaches her people what she considers to be the true meaning of network marketing: “Ours is a people business. It is a way to help us change ourselves and our lives. Network marketing is much more about personal growth than about money. By our example, others will follow suit generating a strong, stable, loyal group of people. And it is through them that we begin to generate a good income.”
Betty and her husband grew apart. It was time for her to make another major life transition, this time as a naturalized American single woman. It was during this period of painful transition that she felt she began to make strides in her personal growth: to gain wisdom, to be a better person, to be more positive, and to be more sensitive in sharing these qualities with others who are struggling. By her example, Betty is the epitome of someone who subscribes to ours being a business of building relationships…lifetime relationships. She cares about her people. She truly loves each of them. Throughout her organization, she has generated more than two hundred leaders who have reached the top of the pay plan and are living lives of complete freedom. And this spirit is spreading throughout the several hundred thousand distributors in her worldwide organization expanding to twenty-seven countries.
Although she could live in a mansion or have several homes around the world, she chooses to live humbly in a hotel suite in Taipai. “I try to keep my life simple. If I possess a lot of material things, I don’t think I am free to grow in wisdom. The more I can alleviate myself of earthly things, the more I am able to have spiritual freedom. I want to let go of yearning for things and direct my desires toward other more rewarding events. Then I can have the money to pursue the causes I really like to support.”
In her worldwide travels, Betty has changed the lives of many people as she goes from country to country working with her primarily Asian groups. She commands a deep respect as a person who is in process of deepening her wisdom, discovering her serenity, and continually striving to learn and grow as a person. She enjoys the process of traveling and teaching these concepts to others. Betty is, for me, the epitome of a true leader.
To Your Success,
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