(This article originally appears in Elevate U for The Black Collegian Magazine)
A Lesson on Leadership from Jackie Robinson
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
-Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson
Yesterday, April the 15th, was the 60th anniversary of an exceptional act of leadership that has left an indelible mark on history. Jackie Robinson became the first African-American major league baseball player.
Drifting into reverie while watching the ball games on Sunday, I wondered what it would be like to be a trendsetter of that magnitude.
How would it feel to be a leader that has affected the lives millions and millions to come? What do you say to yourself when you know you’ve taken a swing at history, caught a ball for the future, and rounded the bases for the ages?
You simply say that there is still more to be done and most importantly, you do it.
Thank God that Jackie Robinson didn’t think like many who say: “I did what I was supposed to do. It’s somebody else’s turn.”
Leadership is not about one time; it’s about as many times as possible.
A prominent business man and political activist, Jackie Robinson was a key leader in the establishment of the African-American owned and controlled Freedom Bank. In his syndicated newspaper column, he was an outspoken advocate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. To a lesser degree, he also supported Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz better known as Malcolm X.
Leadership is not about what you do in the spotlight; it’s about what you do on the spot.
Jackie Robinson showed courage and conviction long before he was in the spotlight. On July 6th 1944, more than a decade before Rosa Parks, he refused to conform to Jim Crow laws in the United States Army. Although his actions earned him a court marshal, he was later found not guilty of insubordination and was honorably discharged.
Leadership is not about the awards or praise that you receive; it’s all about the deed.
Jackie Robinson received numerous awards in baseball, including the National League Most Valuable Player Award, and was the recipient of two of the most prestigious awards an individual can receive: a Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He didn’t do it for the awards, however, he did it for the deed. In fact, he received the last two awards posthumously.
When the quote that you read at the beginning of this article came to my mind, I had to ask myself, as you should ask yourself--What impact are you having on other lives?
Jackie Robinson’s lesson on leadership is simple:
Do something to breakdown a barrier or carve out a path for someone else, not once, but as often as you can.
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