Thoughts on Leadership: A Message for Presidents Day

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By Gino Blefari

“I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we too will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit.” – President John F. Kennedy

This week my travels found me in Dallas to rehearse for the upcoming Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices 2016 Sales Convention. (By the way, read more about that event here.) Because our hotel was only a few blocks away, while on a break from rehearsal I had the chance to make a quick visit to Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, a landmark of American history and the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated November 22, 1963.

As I walked the Dealey Plaza, it felt as if I had stepped back in time. The place stands pretty much as it did years ago—the same white colonnades adorn the main building, the same grassy knoll surges gently above the surrounding park. And in many ways, this preservation of the plaza fits squarely with the idea that though JFK may no longer be with us, his ideals and guiding principles remain.

The plaza has particular significance for me because I consider JFK as one of the finest examples of a leader anyone could hope to find. Honest, forthright, courageous … in every sense of the word, JFK embodied what it truly means to lead. So, being in the very spot where his life was tragically taken years ago—and just days before the Presidents Day holiday—I took the opportunity not just to lament the loss of a great man but also to reflect on the good he represented that no bullet can take away.

So what’s the message? Or better yet, what’s his message? JFK once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” With this in mind, my hope is that we take Presidents Day as an opportunity not to merely thank our past leaders with words but to reaffirm an unspoken promise to lead in a way that would make them proud.

GINO BLEFARI is CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. You can follow Gino on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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