On Leadership

"It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy."
— John McCain

“It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy.”

— John McCain

My father used to tell me all the time, “Don’t judge people by the color of their skin, their religion, their wealth, or where they are from, judge them by their character.”

He believed that one’s character revealed the truth of who a person was. Character was his yardstick for measurement of humanity in life.

Today marks the first memorial service—and, believe it or not, birthday—for U.S. Senator John McCain. I think my dad would’ve said, “Here is a man of true character.” And he would’ve like McCain’s quote on character.

“Glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you.”

I am not a Republican, I didn’t always agree with McCain’s politics, and he wasn’t perfect, still, I believe he was a man of great character. It seemed to me that most of the time he lived by his principles, acting with a greater cause in mind. I respect him for his service to our country as a Navy pilot during the Vietnam War and as a politician.

He represented that rare kind of leader—sorely missing from today’s government—who actually believed in a greater good, who tried to do the best for the American people, and who served his country—a country he had great hope for.

“Nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself, something that encompasses you but is not defined by your existence alone.”

He was one of those leaders who, even if you were on a different “side,” you could respect because you saw him doing the best he could, you saw him fighting for something other than his own agenda, you saw him take responsibility for his mistakes, and you saw him act in integrity.

This isn’t hero worship or some plug for a politician. It’s recognizing a true leader; it’s recognizing character; it’s appreciating a moment of history; and it’s a show of gratitude for those who truly lead.

“It’s been quite a ride,” McCain wrote in his memoir. “I made a small place for myself in the story of America and the history of my times.”

That you did Senator McCain. Rest in peace. You served your country well.




(Photographs and excerpt from Restless Wave here.

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