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My life has been embroiled with leadership roles for most of my adult life. The challenge to unite people, square off with great threats, achieve great gains for the organization and to resolve to press against the ever-present vehemently vicious critic are all a test of the metal that a leader is made. Reading and watching great leaders in action inspires me to keep leading with determination.
One of the great leaders in my life time has a Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Visiting this museum and library of this leader was on my life list. I was able to check it off with great satisfaction.
After entering the gorgeous grounds with breathtaking views, I remember pausing long at a portrait of President Ronald Reagan as he walked down one of the halls of the White House. There is something special about leadership that can never be taught and this President possessed it in generous quantity. It is called “leadership presence.”
There is very little about “leadership presence” that is external. Instead, it is what exists in the soul of the man or woman who drives their choices, directs their initiatives and most of all manages the values the define their leadership commitments. Reagan’s beliefs marked his life and leadership.
When a leader faces pressures and attacks, he or she must be able to draw from their own convictions to make choices and decisions to protect and advance the best interests of the organization that they lead. That is what leadership is. Anticipation and reaction based upon a consistent set of values that others can follow and embrace.
The influence of this President was also balanced with a whimsical ability to engage the lives of international leaders from around the globe. His control of power was never carelessly dismissed but blended with discernment, resolve and vision. He thought the best of this nation and devoted himself to lead it to become better and more positively influential in the world.
If blessing is accompanied with responsibility, then this great leader acted well in light of the extraordinary blessings given to the nation by Almighty God. He could win the respect and cooperation of the opposing party, sooth the angry critic or stand stalwart against the belligerent opponent. President Ronald Reagan was a uniquely effective leader and one of the most remarkably gifted Presidents in our nation’s history.
photo credit: brucefong photography
The grounds of the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley were warmly welcoming. All of our now adult children joined us for this first-time experience. Our first grandchild added a lot of joy to this visit.
It was breathtaking to take in the expanse of the 100 acre mountainous Southern California setting. The land for this special memorial center was a private donation. We paused several times to enjoy the vistas before we ever entered the library.
Our family gathered around the elevated bronze sculpture of President Reagan that greeted all guests. His cheerful smile made me smile with all of the confidence that he poured into his leadership of our great land. I remember the confidence that I hoped my children would someday sense as young Americans.
Inside of the museum we sat down to view a welcome video with words spoken by Ronald Reagan himself. He told us of his intentions when he first stepped into the office of the President of the United States. They were historic inspiring words.
His hope was to restore the American spirit. He knew that the problems facing the USA were grave. Our national economy was in trouble.
American morale was dangerously low. Hope in the American dream was waning. Our national election gave Ronald Reagan our trust to change things back to the exceptionalism that was woven into the very fabric of this great country.
At the inauguration ceremony Reagan’s swearing in was done using his mother’s Bible. Today that Bible is encased in the library opened up to 2 Chronicles 7.14 ”If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal the land.”
His mother inscribed in her Bible a thought for the day: ”You can be too big for God to use, but you cannot be too small.” Did she have some inclination that this would help chart the course for her son? It is a valuable piece of wisdom for any who would enter a position of notoriety and influence.
With every display and around every corner there were insights into what made this man into a remarkable leader. Reagan would realign America with the great blessings in its founding. He would also influence the world to find a better course toward peace.
photo credit: brucefong photography