Note: This is a crossover-post with my blog over on LinkedIn. My LinkedIn blog at http://www.linkedin.com/in/trevorstasik/ serves as my base of operations for posts about business, career topics, and more.
Leadership, Genealogy & History
Is leadership something that you can pass down through your family?
There are well-known examples of families where leaders seem to be developed over the course of generations. In American politics, you have two sets of Presidents that were father and son (Adams and Bush). Families like the Rockefellers have produced generations of leaders in business and philanthropy. In India, you have political dynasties that were born from the Nehru-Gandhi family. In London, the British Royal Families have been producing leaders of various sorts for centuries. You can turn back to ancient history and look to the families of Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and the Ptolemaic I Soter.
Nature Versus Nurture
The discussion of whether leadership can be passed down is something of a nature versus nurture debate. There is something to be said of having a certain set of DNA with the right amount of genetically endowed whatever: Brains, Brawn, Beauty. These traits can be very useful in giving someone an edge over those that don’t. That genetic lottery can give someone the raw material to build a leadership from. However, I would come down on the nurture side of this debate; that leaders are formed by their experiences and not simply by traits they were born with.
The genetic raw material can be important, like the ingredients that a chef would use when making a meal. Kobe Beef can prepared as a exquisite steak or as a pedestrian hamburger. The final product is all determined by the hands doing the preparations. Leaders are so molded by their environment; with their parents having the largest effect on them in their formative years. When a child has a leader in their family, they grow up with a template to model themselves after. As a leader, when you allow a child to see your decision making process, you are helping to give them tools they will be able to use themselves one day. Raising a child to have certain sets of values will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives.
Keys To The Kingdom
When you follow these famous families of leaders, it is plain to see that having the right genes and a supportive family structure are not enough. To produce a leader of historic proportions, the progenitors of the previous generation often need to also provide a child with tools as they grow up. These tools can be money, the right social circles, formal education, family name, land, or a number of other things; keys that can open doors. A family that can pass these tools on and show a child how to use them will be more likely to produce a leader. The parent in a leadership position can give their children an advantage over children of non-leaders, by giving them experiences and perspectives that only they can provide.
Now it’s true that you don’t have to come from a family full of leaders to become a leader. Many members of these family trees produce brilliant individual contributors (philosophers, scientists, or poets) that never rose to the ranks of leadership out of choice. The last and possibly most important piece of the puzzle in creating a leader comes from the individual, and not the family. A leader must lead. The leader has to wake up, decide to get dressed, and walk out onto the stage. Leaders that came from nothing, like Abraham Lincoln, had enough individual will and determination to overcome their lack of family status. They made the decision to lead, or in cases where leadership is thrust into their hands, they made the decision to not let go.
You know, you can use your own self-determinism to reframe the discussion. Some people may not see you as a leader in the traditional sense. Consider those brilliant individual contributors; those philosophers, scientists, or poets. They might be leaders in thought or expression. A family of artists may be filled with leaders of a different kind. If you do not like what society has taught you about leadership, don’t be afraid to redefine what it means to be a leader. Start today to take charge and pass it on to your descendants.
I hope that you will keep your eyes open for my new short Kindle e-book that will be coming out in the next month or two. It is titled “The Family Business: Genealogy and Family Money” by Trevor Stasik. This book will introduce you to the concepts of including a family business and family money in your genealogical story. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to visit my site at www.predecessorpro.com and connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trevorstasik/
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