How To Be Great Like Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of those incredible, inspiring leaders who really stands out in American history. He took timeless principles like nonviolence, commitment and a pursuit of truth and followed them to the end of his life.

When I was young I had a chance to visit Atlanta, sit through a service in Ebenezer Baptist Church, walk around the reflecting pool that surrounds his tomb, and reflect on his famous "I Have a Dream" speech every year on the national holiday created in his name. I'm very glad that same holiday is now celebrated every year as a day of service. I think Dr. King would be proud of that.
If you want to be important—wonderful. If you want to be recognized—wonderful. If you want to be great—wonderful. But recognize that he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That's a new definition of greatness.

And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.
This quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. comes from one of his sermons, The Drum Major Instinct, which Chris mentioned a little while back at the Art of Non-Conformity. I love it and I believe in it entirely. Advance Humanity and projects like Life is Volunteer and Modern Enlightenment, everything I do is motivated by this belief, this new definition of greatness.

I like how Simon Sinek closed his recent TEDTalk on Inspiring Leadership, "We followed Martin Luther King Jr. not for him but for ourselves. And by the way he gave the "I Have a Dream" speech, not the "I Have a Plan" speech... He said again and again, I believe. I believe. I believe... There are leaders and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position of power or authority, but those who lead the inspire us. Whether they're individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead not because we have to but because we want to. We follow those who lead not for them but for ourselves. And it's those who start with why who have the ability to inspire those around them and find others that inspire them."

Dr. King inspired and continues to inspire millions of people around the world. I think we need more people like him in the world. We need to be those people.

Please share your thoughts with us here