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The audacity to make things happen

One of the things we always say about ATU is that we are a Union “that makes things happen.” By that we mean that we are a proactive labor organization that never stops fighting for improved wages, working conditions, and social justice for ourselves, and everyone in both of our countries.

However, stepping out to fight for those goals doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Members and even officers often think that they don’t possess the leadership skills necessary to make things happen. But, the research I have done on this subject reveals that almost anyone can develop those attributes, which include the following:

Leadership requires commitment to two things:

  • Dedication to understanding yourself – understanding what it means to be human in this world. 
  • The ability to change one’s habits of thought: how you think, what you value, how you manage frustration, etc. Changing those habits means moving from non-leadership to a leadership mindset.


Attributes of a leadership mind

Tough choices are a daily requirement of leadership:

Managing polarity: “Polarity is inevitable in every aspect of life. We want to live – yet we must die. How can I fully devote myself to both family and career?  Am I a boss or a friend? Paradoxes are a part of life. How we respond to them is what separates greatness from mediocrity.

The best leaders operate in four dimensions:

  1. Vision: The visionary thinks new, thinks ahead, and is in touch with creative potential. The visionary sees what an ultimate positive environment would look like and builds a plan to achieve it. I’m reminded of the Robert F. Kennedy quote, “Some men see things and ask why? I dream things and ask why not.”
  2. Reality: Reality is the opposite. The realist follows the motto, “Face reality as it is, not as you would like it to be.” The realist grapples with hard facts and perimeters. The realist masters the art of the possible, has no illusions, sees limits, and has no patience for speculation.
  3. Ethics: Ethics refers to basic human values of integrity, love and meaning. This dimension represents a higher level of development, one not ruled by fear or pleasure – but by principle.
  4. Courage: Courage exists in the realm of the will. It is fundamental to making things happen. Courage is essential in advocacy – the ability to take a stand and internalize personal responsibility and accountability.

The real challenge of leadership is to develop all of these often contradicting modes and behaviors at once.

Some people are more talented than others.  Some more educated than others.  But we all have the capacity to be great. Greatness comes when you recognize that your potential is only limited only by what you choose to do, how you use your freedom, how resolute and persistent you are – in short by your attitude. And we are all free to choose our own attitude.


The clock of life

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at a late or early hour. Now is the only time you own.

Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”