I will prepare and someday my chance will come.” – Abraham Lincoln
Leadership is multidimensional in nature; much of it depends upon three crucial variables such as a person’s preparation, the context and time in which they live, and what happens within this context and time to compel a potential leader to step out of their comfort zone to lead change and transformation.
The example of one of our beloved presidents, Abraham Lincoln, should suffice to make my point. First and foremost, Lincoln studied law (preparation), and eventually opened a law practice, which just happens to be a foundational career for legislative office. To add to this, Abraham Lincoln lived during a specific period of time in history (context and time), where he would eventually be summoned to the National forefront to lead the nation through a difficult crises. Abraham Lincoln would have had a good life as a small town lawyer, but the circumstances surrounding him (an emerging problem or dilemma) thrust him into a significant leadership role in history.
Today, Lincoln’s legacy is second to none. Lincoln’s contribution as a national leader was winning the Civil war, thus, saving the Union, emancipating the slaves, and inspiring not only his generation but generations to come with his famous address at Gettysburg. One of Lincoln’s famous quotes sums up the leadership Law of Governing Dynamics, “I will prepare and someday my chance will come.”
1. The Preparation Phase
The first critical component of any leader’s development is the preparation phase. For example, Jesus, the Christ, prepared himself for 30 years for just 3 years of impacting and fruitful ministry. His impact and legacy was evident from just 10% of his life, so the other 90% of his life on earth was all preparation.
The three phases of your life are:
a. The Learning Phase: birth to 30 years of age, where masterful learning takes place.
b. The Leadership Phase: 31-60 years of age, where you manifest your best.
c. The Legacy Phase: 61-90 years of age, where you give back from all your accumulated knowledge.
This is true for others who prepare for long periods of time for a short impacting life. Each and everyday a person makes choices about his or her life, which will prepare him or her for a leadership role or simply disqualify a person for when opportunity arises. I call this critical phase the preparation phase, which happens during the first 30 years of a person’s life. This is when a person makes the critical choices of the character he or she will chisel in their personal constitution; whom they associate with and why, many of these relationships will open doors for them at some point; whether they chose to drink and experiment with drugs or not; the vocation one chooses; and the school one attends, or the mentor(s) who will prepare him or her for their chosen career are all factors for preparation. For instance, Lawyers and Doctors learn way up to their late twenties, for a long career in their respective fields. People who complete their Bachelors go on to study for their Masters, which can take them well into their mid to late twenties.
Many other factors can be listed in this phase. This phase, however, is where conscientious choices are made to prepare oneself for life regardless if a leadership role ever emerges. However, it takes two other governing dynamics to thrust a person into a more pronounced leadership role.
We all experience and live within a certain context in time, whether that context is small or large, significant or insignificant does not matter, at least not yet. For example, my context consists of my family, church, school and work, and other social gatherings my wife and I wish to attend. In a nutshell, my context is an accumulation of my life’s choices. For instance, I operate within a local context of which I have already alluded too but I am also engaged in a larger one, although minimally. I love America; my nation is important to me and the decisions those in authority choose to legislate will impact my life, limit my liberty and impact my family and future, good or bad. If I don’t like something I get involved in politics and recruit others to do the same, therefore, enlarging my context.
Today, technology through the Internet and social media have enlarged all of our contexts to a global scale. You and I now have access to more information at the whim of our fingertips by accessing an iPhone application, and the Internet from the palm of our hand. No matter the scope of our context; the things we choose to get involved with are important to us, therefore, we make choices to engage in creating change.
There is one thing that will draw you and I out of the shadows of our context and to lead in a more significant way – this is an emerging problem or dilemma that stirs you and I into action.
3. An Emerging Problem or Dilemma
There will come a time during your daily context when a leadership opportunity will emerge through a problem or dilemma, which only your personal offerings; your gifts and abilities will be sought after to remedy the problem. Let’s get back to Lincoln. He had prepared himself thoroughly as a lawyer, and lived in a certain context and time in history. When an emerging problem or dilemma emerged in his day, he was at the right place at the right time ready to meet the demand placed upon his life.
Lincoln vehemently advocated the end of slavery during his campaign speeches for Congress and as candidate for President of the United States. He eventually became the nominee for the Republican Party, and the rest of his life is read in history books. Lincoln became a history maker.
Lincoln was a perfect fit for his time. So are you for this time, if you take the time to prepare yourself! A person who is prepared can easily see opportunities as they emerge before them. You don’t have to have a national stage to be an impactful leader. You can make a difference in a smaller context like your family, in your job, community or city, even a larger context like influencing and impacting the global landscape.
Do you see the 3 Governing Dynamics of Leadership working in your life? If so, tell us your story.