The Immigrant Philosophy of a Great Leader

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“Some men are born to greatness, others have to fight for it” –  Golden Boy (CBS)

How many of us are immigrants?  I would venture a guess that there is a high percentage of us who originated from another country, either personally or through our ancestors.

A few months ago, I had the honor to listen to a eulogy about a great man.  I felt that I knew who this man was since his daughter is one of my dearest friends but I realized that there was so much more than what she had shared over the years. Yes, he was a great man…

At his eulogy,  his friend spoke of how this man lived the immigrant’s philosophy:

  • Work
  • Family
  • Community
  • Faith

He came to the United States with a strong work ethic.  He believed in becoming educated and working hard to fulfill his goals and dreams.  He did work hard and eventually became a leader in a Fortune 100 company for several years before his retirement.  His friend described him as “quiet, strong and caring”.  I am sure that he was involved in many tough decisions and negotiations during his career as a high level business leader but it was clear that he also had great heart.  Quiet…Strong…Caring…, pretty powerful descriptors of  a great man and a great leader.

His marriage was one of quiet determination to work together and rise above the sometimes overwhelming challenges and heartbreak that arose throughout their long relationship.  His children were his blessings and he taught them his values for work, family, community and faith.  His children have displayed the same work ethic and their father was not only a wonderful parent but also a trusted adviser in career matters long after he had retired.  He stood for his grandchildren’s greatness, ensuring  they all have a solid educational foundation at a good school to give them the best start in their educational process.

He believed in sharing his good fortune with his community.  He and his wife made conscious choices to support a local university in one of its athletic programs and he would attend as many games as he could to support the team. He truly enjoyed his time at those events. They also supported hospital programs with monetary gifts to show thanks for assisting his family during their times of medical need.  They took the wealth they had achieved later in his career as a responsibility, as an exercise of mindful management.  An immigrant’s philosophy to work hard and have a better life through that hard work,  not a philosophy of easy come, easy go because it wasn’t easy.  An immigrant’s value is generally not to fritter something away that they have worked so hard to gain.

Last, but not definitely least, was this man’s faith.  He supported his faith community.  He taught his children to support their faith community. He believed in a power so much greater than himself.  Did he get up and shout his beliefs?  No.  Did he insist on having his name etched in plaster around the church? No.  He lived his life as a quiet leader…a reflective leader…an immigrant with a philosophy that one should work hard, love your family, support the community who has supported you and most of all to keep your faith close at hand.  Great men are not always born to greatness but through hard work and determination,  their greatness will be remembered long after they leave this earth by the imprint they leave behind.

I watched a show not long ago about the CEO of Kampgrounds of American as he went undercover in his operations.  He stated something that has stayed with:  he used to go camping with his family and his parents would always tell him “make sure you leave the campground better than when you came”.

How are you going to leave the campground of your life better than when you came?

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