This I Believe: The Guts to Keep Going

The Courage to Become

I believe in the silent tenacity of those who accept life’s unchangeable circumstances. This powerful spirit enabled the author’s mother to overcome grief and transform it into progress after her husband died. This mirrors Warren Bennis’ definition of leadership, where one does not strive to be a leader but rather endeavors to become oneself in every aspect by employing all their talents and knowledge for purposeful realization.

At seventy-nine, the author’s mother faced several challenges alone after losing her father. Despite having already achieved so much—relocating from a small hometown in Mississippi to a big city, raising three daughters, and surviving cancer—she was unfamiliar with simple tasks such as filling the gas tank. After the burial, she asked the author to teach her how to pump gas, marking a step toward her independence.

This learning moment encompassed more than just pumping gas; it was about accepting change and ambiguity. Gradually, she began to understand tasks like car repairs and budgeting without her husband’s guidance, while also offering practical advice to widowed friends.

Her mother’s determined and graceful progress demonstrates true leadership skills. She downsized her home but maintained friendships, even hosting a male friend for dinner. Every step she took showed her unwavering resilience. From my perspective, I saw in her a model of leadership that doesn’t require a title or followers. It’s about personal growth, perseverance, and the courage to keep going despite adversity. This belief in the strength of the human spirit and the capacity to adapt represents my vision of leadership: a belief in becoming fully oneself and using that authenticity to navigate life’s journey.

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