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Seven lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr

INSPIRATION: Although his time on this planet was cut short, Martin Luther King, Jr’s influence remains strong

YOU CAN learn a lot from studying the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. I’ve read his autobiography as well as his sermons. But after watching the movie Selma and the recent HBO special King in the Wilderness, something stirred me to jot down a few notes about the leader. In both instances, I noticed seven things that made him special.

1. Be prepared to stand by yourself

For a long time Dr Martin Luther King confronted the civil rights issue without support from his brethren in the pulpit.

Even, many of the people he advocated for sat on the sidelines. He was ridiculed, denounced, and misunderstood. Still, he continued to stand. Simply put, the great ones risk everything to fight for what’s right.

2. Listen to all sides of an issue
Dr King listened to all sides of an issue. If the other person’s opinion differed, it did not diminish his respect for him. He was an intelligent warrior who was quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger.

3. Understand your call
He understood what he was ordained to do, inside and outside the pulpit. Although he grew tired and weary, he remained steadfast. I believe that his obedience to carry out the call, regardless of death threats and harsh words, drove people crazy; he knew that his call was to lead this movement.

4. Embrace the assignment
Let’s be real. I don’t think anyone is jumping for joy to be harmed or betrayed. Who pushes his or her way to the front of the line to accept this kind of assignment? Going to jail is no picnic.

On the contrary, I’m suggesting that Dr King comprehended the magnitude of his charge. But he realised that the issue was bigger than him.

It was bigger than him. As a result, he kept his eyes on the prize. Similarly, you must be grounded in the reality of the endeavour and remain committed.

ONWARDS: As a leader, King kept things moving, says Stephanie Harbin

5. Know the real enemy
Martin Luther King, Jr looked beneath the surface to identify the real adversary; hatred reared its ugly head. And, he was aware that you can’t overcome evil with evil.

Now this way of thinking baffled many. As a human, your natural reaction is to strike back. How do you practice self-control when your mother or brother is being attacked? Yet, the non-violence approach commanded the attention of the masses and eventually moved them to act.

6. Remember to love
Love conquers all. Hence, a leader must love. Walking in love is easy when people are nice; the test is loving people who are difficult. Dr King suffered long and remained kind. He rejoiced in truth, bore all things, believed all things, and endured all things.

7. Keep moving forwards
As a leader, he kept things moving. If he were alive today, I believe he would tell us to keep moving forward.

Progress is made through constant movement, not stagnation and complacency.

Stephanie Harbin is a motivational speaker and training specialist who has developed and presented a wide range of programmes.

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