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"We are not born leaders, we become leaders..."

Would de Gaulle have been de Gaulle were it not for the World War II armistice? Would Gandhi have been Gandhi if he had not witnessed the violent acts of the British army in India?  How did these leaders, even though fragile and vulnerable, change the course of history? One, the totally isolated under-Secretary of State who flew through the night to awaken the French resistance movement. The other, a political figure who traveled barefoot throughout India preaching civil disobedience against the powerful British army. How did they inspire millions of people to achieve an unimaginable dream?

Crises and unjust circumstances have often produced exceptional men and women.  These people would not have changed an era without strong convictions, firm values, and knowledge of the world, others, and themselves that were well developed before their public engagements.

To achieve the unimaginable dream, to bring hope to desperate situations, they dared to put themselves on the line, they practiced what they preached, they mounted resistance with unwavering determination, accepting their vulnerability and embodying dignity and free-thinking.  They challenged the implications behind their opponents’ ideologies, they did not crumble in the face of adversity, and history proved them right.

It is without a doubt this unyielding yet intelligent commitment, an audacious yet realistic vision, far from a politically correct consensus, that are the stuff of these leaders and which form numerous other leaders.

And who am I compared to these historical “monuments”? While it is easier to claim to be ordinary to justify cowardice, it is also possible to recognize this crisis period we are enduring, where the worst injustices are not always the most visible.

If there is one thing we need in today’s world, it is true leaders – visionary, intelligent, humble, determined, concerned with the common good in the long run.  Leadership is not learnt, but revealed; it can be developed and can flourish.  And therein lies our vocation: to become the leader that lies within me in order to carry out my mission with vision and courage, in the service of others in my company and in the society.

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in a closed room with a mosquito…” (Asian proverb)

Olivier Pelleau

Olivier Pelleau