As the saying goes, “those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.” This idea suggests that it’s important to study history’s greatest leaders and the traits that made them successful so you can avoid mistakes and become a strong leader.
Throughout history, great leaders like Alexander the Great, Abraham Lincoln, and Nelson Mandela have overcome challenges, built great teams, and inspired radical changes that benefited the world.
And, here’s the good news – you can learn their secrets.
Most great leaders share common traits that helped them lead vast armies, inspire new movements, and cultivate world-changing ideas. These leaders weren’t born with a magical leadership gene – they had to develop those important habits and learn new ways to succeed.
Here’s a look at five of history’s greatest leaders and what we can learn from them.
- Nelson Mandela: Sacrifice and Humility – Nelson Mandela is the epitome of humble sacrifice. He often taught forgiveness over revenge, and was committed to peace and justice, even after being imprisoned for 30 years in South Africa. He went on to become the first South African president elected in a democratic process. His lesson? Sometimes you must sacrifice comfort and stability to accomplish your goals.
- Rosa Parks: Bravery and Determination – Look no further than American civil rights warrior Rosa Parks to see bravery and determination at work. Parks is best known for refusing to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, AL. That one act of bravery and determination helped inspire the civil rights movement in America. Her lesson? Stand your ground and fight for causes and purposes that are important to you and your team.
- Sun Tzu: Observe and Adapt – Sun Tzu, who wrote “The Art of War” in 500 B.C. China, said that a leader must learn to adapt to any situation, and observation was the first step in adapting. He said war leaders should observe the enemy, terrain, wildlife, and soldiers in order to create the best plan of attack. What can we learn from him? Study your workplace, home, friends, competitors, and environment to create the best plan for success.
- Alexander the Great: Encourage and Support – Alexander the Great was one of history’s most famous warriors. His secret was to regularly encourage and single out soldiers for special attention for acts of bravery. He listened to the advice of his generals and common soldiers. He listened to and rewarded even those considered inconsequential. His lesson to us? Support, recognize, and encourage your team, and they will bend over backward to continue to succeed.
- Abraham Lincoln: Never Give Up – The great president Abraham Lincoln was defeated more than seven times before being elected as president. He could have given up, but he kept going and kept trying. He also faced ruthless opposition to many of the choices he made as president, but he never backed down from decisions he felt were right. His lesson? Never, ever stop trying. Failure is inevitable, but true leaders get back up and keep fighting for their passion and their dreams.
Do you have any personal heroes from history? What lessons did you learn from them? Share with us in the comments section below.
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