The coolest thing about real-world heroes is knowing that they are just like us – human. We typically think of great leaders as larger-than-life figures. In reality, they are authentic, everyday people, who feel led to rise up for the sake of others.

Human rights champions, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, were approachable, open-minded, straight-forward and confident visionaries. They both maintained optimism, despite extreme difficulty, and advocated for peace and human equality. Many years after their deaths, their actions continue to inspire and reinforce change to this day.

Dr King was a civil rights activist in the 1950s-1960s. He led nonviolent protests to fight for the rights of all people, at a time when racial segregation was common practice. His dream was that America would become colorblind and understand that race should have no impact on a person’s rights.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mahatma Gandhi was an Indian lawyer and social activist when India was seeking independence from British rule in the 1930’s and 40’s. He organized boycotts and nonviolent protests, seeking political resolution through civil disobedience. Gandhi led successful campaigns against excessive taxes, discrimination and religious violence.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

There is great power in using your voice for causes that move you. If it matters to you, it will resonate with someone else, too!

Lead With Integrity

To lead with integrity, you need clear intention, and you need to follow through with what you say you will do. Know what you want to accomplish and how to share your dream with others. Powerful leaders learn to communicate transparently with their audience. If you want to make an impact on the world you live in, lead by example. In other words, inspire others by your own actions.

To successfully lead others, you have to establish a strong sense of self. Strengthen your emotional intelligence and practice self-awareness, so frustration, fear and anger cannot control you. Challenges will come. Don’t let them prevent you from reaching your dreams.

Be the Upstander

When you see aggressive behavior, you have the power to make a difference, without violence. Don’t be a bystander, sitting quietly when others are unkind or unfair. Leaders are not afraid to say how they feel or what is on their mind. Use your voice and influence to impact the lives around you.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What’s Your Dream?

And we’re not talking about the ones you have when you’re drooling on your pillow. By dream, I mean an ambition you want to see come to fruition in the real world. Perhaps you dream of a society in which everyone treats each other with respect. This one’s attainable, by the way. Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated – no matter how they treat you. It’s not always easy to be nice to somebody who’s screaming at you but if you are, they’ll notice. They might even learn from you.

Dreams can arise from chaos but from there, form into clear concepts and eventually, reality. Expect the unexpected when pursuing your dreams. Just like visionaries Gandhi and Dr. King, do what you do… with integrity.

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