We lost another of serving leader this week. Muhammad Ali inspired me and so many other serving leaders around the world. What made Ali special wasn’t that he had so many extraordinary talents, he did. What made Ali the most well-known man on the planet was how he cared about other people.
I’ve known many people who were touched by Muhammad Ali. From taxi drivers to senators and kings. Ali had a light touch when dealing with people, unlike in the ring where he could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. When you met Muhammad Ali he made you feel special. Let me see if I can help all of us CARE for others like Muhammad Ali.
To CARE for others like Muhammad Ali you must have Courage. Ali was a man who not only walked his talk he was willing to walk away from the things such as fame and fortune that attracted other men and women. He had the courage to stand up against all others to make his point. He understood who he was and the impact he could have and did the things that would have flattened a lesser man. His stand against the war irritated many people in the establishment. He spoke truth to power and came away with an impossible victory. He had the courage to give up several years of his extraordinary career to make his point. Even his most ardent critics respected the stand he made against the war in Vietnam.
To CARE for others like Muhammad Ali you must Achieve all you can with your gifts and life experiences. He understood that he had to find a way to win against huge odds. He did this both physically and mentally. He knew how to achieve success no matter who his opponent was. He had a knack for finding others weaknesses and then hitting them there. He was the ultimate strategist, understanding that to be the champion meant you had to focus on what was important to achieve success.
Successful boxers and people understand that to achieve more you must be more, or in some cases, less. He was a superior fighter who understood not only his opponents, but himself. Muhammad Ali was willing to go farther to achieve his goals. When he defeated George Foreman, he not only made himself champion, he helped make George into a better man and father. It’s a testament to the man to see him with many of the men he defeated in the ring who became lifelong friends.
To CARE for others like Muhammad Ali you must learn the value of Relationships. Muhammad Ali was a constant promoter of his causes and beliefs. He stood to toe to toe with many of the world’s most powerful leaders. His positions would infuriate people, but almost of his opponents understood how Muhammad Ali would help improve their relationships with the world.
His gift may have been he understood how to make the other person feel important. His bluster impacted not only how others saw him, but the importance of his causes. He was able to get people engaged in causes that would have been lost if not supported by Muhammad Ali. He had a natural gift for sizing up others and then providing what was needed to help repair critical relationships in their lives.
Muhammad Ali did this by focusing his efforts on helping others feel special. An odd accomplishment for a man that described himself as the greatest. There are many great stories about how he made the people he met feel special. From taxi drivers to presidents he connected like his punches. Some are public record, but most happened when people unexpectedly entered a relationship with Ali. With his lively gift of gab to his poetry and unlimited energy, Ali was able to reach into others’ lives and make these people feel special. Even his most ardent detractors loved the Muhammad Ali. These people all felt connected to this incredible man.
To CARE for others like Muhammad Ali you must learn to Encourage others to develop their gifts and strengths. His willingness to remain on the public stage has provided millions of Parkinson’s disease sufferers with hope. His ability to share this pain and that of his caregivers provided many families with the support they needed to deal with Parkinson’s disease openly with family and friends.
As Muhammad Ali become older and Parkinson’s disease took its toll, he learned a new way to encourage others to embrace life. He was inspiring others to be all they might be. As he continued to deal with this horrific disease, he always embraced life.
It would have been far easier for Muhammad Ali to step out of the public spotlight. He chose to make people aware of how destructive this disease could be. He shined a light on this dreaded disease, helping to raise money and awareness of the disease. If we are able to eradicate Parkinson’s disease, it will be because of the efforts of Muhammad Ali and the people he enrolled into this cause.
I will miss Muhammad Ali. He provided a great example for all of us who help others deal with personal challenges and illness. His undefeatable spirit provided us a tremendous inspiration for people who choose to invest their lives in serving others. He will be missed.
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