Commentary

May 2, 2013

Leadership not defined by shapes, sizes

Commentary by Col. Jerry Wizda
39th Medical Group commander

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFNS) — Short in stature at 5 feet 4 inches, not particularly handsome, a bookworm and not exactly the life of the party, James Madison does not fit some perceptions of a leader.

In today’s world, he probably would have been perceived as a nerd. But, his brilliant mind and leadership skills now have historians re-embracing Madison’s presidency and his leadership.

President Madison is best known as “The Father of the Constitution.” He was a delegate, unequaled in his writing abilities, who kept written documentation at every secret Constitutional Convention’s meeting. Later, his Virginia Plan became the basis for our Constitution. What most people do not remember is President Madison’s equally successful presidency, when he led an infant nation against the greatest naval power in the world and won. The War of 1812 remains “The Forgotten War.” Many do not realize it was through President Madison’s leadership the U.S. escaped becoming, once again, subjects of Great Britain.

So what personal attributes made this man an unlikely leader, and what can you take from the story of President Madison and apply to today’s world to make you a leader?

First, always believe in yourself and never doubt your abilities. This is probably the hardest perception to embrace. Each day when President Madison went to the Constitutional Convention meetings, he stood up and rallied for a democratic government with election of congressmen directly by the people. He wrote the Federalist Papers with John Jay and Alexander Hamilton; documents considered to be the best interpretation of American government, even in present times. He truly embraced his ideals, and this spurred him to speak and write what was in his heart. His conviction to his ideals gave us the great nation we have today. At work, strive to be the best you can be. Work from your heart. If you give already 100 percent, strive to give 110 percent.

Secondly, stay true to yourself and stand by your convictions. After President Madison asked Congress to declare war on Great Britain June 1, 1812, riots began because of the decision. Talk of succession in New England ran rampant. But, President Madison stayed true to his belief in freedom for America. And, despite opposition to the war, he stood his ground. He said, “If we lose, we lose independence.” People will perceive you as a leader if you stick to your beliefs and do not go back and forth on your ideals. Even those who do not agree with you will respect you for your steadfast loyalty and convictions.

Lastly, know when to stay and know when to run. Even the best leaders must give up the fight at some point for the sake of their people. On August 24, 1814, President Madison and Congress fled Washington on horseback as the British advanced on the city. While it may have been perceived as cowardly to run, fleeing the city was the only choice President Madison had.

If he had a chosen to stay and ordered Congress to stay, they would have been captured or killed. Merely three days after fleeing, President Madison returned to Washington, rallied the citizens, and connected with the people like he never had before. President Madison rallied Congress and met in a post office, the only building left standing. He began the work of the government from scratch and turned the tide of war. Think carefully about your decisions and of the consequences down the road. Is the fight worth it?

Not all of us will become president, but each in our own way, can be a successful leader. Every day we make decisions that affect our families, the Air Force and its Airmen, and our country. Many of these decisions are simple, and many can be life-altering. If we embrace the lessons of our forefathers, we are sure to become successful Airmen and leaders in our own right.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Postpartum_pict

Commentary: Changes to the Air Force’s post-partum policies

UNITED KINGDOM – On July 8, I received an e-mail informing me that I was within 90 days of my deployment window. My first reaction was, “Great, I have to do a ton of CBTs.”[computer-based training]. I quickly realized...
 
 
MissHome_pict

“I know you don’t want me to, but I miss home”

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Pixar’s movie “Inside Out” is a movie every military family should see. I say family because it is not just for kids. Although it is an animated film, its themes are n...
 
 
Family_pict

The power of family

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho — As the saying goes, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” Tech. Sgt. Matthew Turner, NCO in charge of the 391st Fighter Squadron medical element, grew up und...
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Amelia Leonard

Communication: So what you’re saying is …?

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Arizona — “Genuine leaders have the ability to articulate, initiate and follow-through on their vision.” ~ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This quote from King epitomizes the importance of de...
 
 

Legal Corner: Avoiding ‘bird-dogging’

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Scams aimed at taking advantage of U.S. military members are nothing new; however, one such scam, “bird-dogging,” has re-emerged as a threat to Service members’ financial security. Bird-dogging refers to the act of soliciting sales for a third party and is illegal both on and off base. One example occurs when a...
 
 

Air Force needs every Airman as leader

TRAVIS AIR FORCE, Calif.  — Does every Airman truly need to be a leader?  The short answer is yes. Obviously, there are various levels of leadership within the Air Force, but even an airman basic is a leader in the community by virtue of wearing the uniform. The civilian population looks to members of the uniformed services...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>