4 Leadership Lessons from Dr. Condoleezza Rice

Have you ever been in the presence of “class”?  Have you ever been captivated by a speaker?

This past Friday night, I had the opportunity of attending Freed Hardeman University’s 48th Annual Benefit Dinner where Dr. Condoleezza Rice (@condoleezzarice) was the featured speaker.  She has to be the one of the classiest most thoughtful speakers I have ever heard.  What an amazing evening it was.  Dr. Rice shared many insights about life, politics, and public policy which shaped her.  Much more of her life is chronicled in her new book, No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington.  She spoke for approximately thirty minutes and then answered several questions from the faculty and staff of Freed Hardeman.

She had several memorable points, but I wanted to specifically point out four which stuck with me.

4 Leadership Lessons from Dr. Condoleezza Rice

1.  “Work for a world, not as it is but as it should be.” – Dr. Rice admitted that much of what we see in this country and around the world can be depressing and deflating.  She encouraged those in attendance to remain focused on making things better, and not getting caught up in the negative news of the day.

2.  “Freedom can be delayed, but it can’t be denied.” – Something inside each of us longs to be free.  You can look to the “Arab Spring” as an example of the desire to live as a free people.  Withholding educational opportunities from certain groups of people cannot be sustained forever, but those who know how important education is, know it must not be freely offered if they want to remain in power.

3.  “Freedom gives us special rights, but it also requires great responsibility.” – We live in the most free and greatest nation on earth.  We are also the most individualistic country, and nothing proves this more than the great civil rights court case of Brown v. Board of Education.  This was a very specific individual rights issue which changed the face of an entire nation.  It must also be noted that even though we are very focused on ourselves as individuals, the United States of America is the most philanthropic.  Our citizens understand the importance of taking care of those less fortunate.

4.  “It doesn’t matter where you came from, but rather where you are going.” – Dr. Rice spoke of her humble beginnings in Birmingham, Alabama.  She also shared with us how important education was to her family, which was sparked by her grandfather’s pursuit of a college education.  This pursuit changed the trajectory for all of those who followed.  She grew up in a household that appreciated the opportunities this country had to offer, and knew the greatest thing separating where you are and where you want to be was an education.

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, Dr. Condoleezza Rice’s life story is inspiring.  She said she was much more interested in the public policy side of public life than the politics, but maybe… just maybe, Dr. Rice’s name will appear on a national ballot one day.

Comment below:  What does her story mean to you?  What can you learn from Dr. Rice’s life?

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