Recently, I heard Deepak Chopra speak at a conference organized by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. He spoke about his book, “The Soul of Leadership.” His words were relevant for Latinos in many ways. We are growing in population, but are not seeing an accompanying growth in education level and representation across sectors. We are visibly underrepresented in politics, media, and entertainment. Many are working hard to change this situation, and Being Latino is part of this movement.
We need more true leaders and we need our young people to reach their potential. But what is a true leader? A true leader leads from within, speaks powerfully to share their message, and cultivates self-power instead of agency power.
Agency power is power that others bestow on you, such as a title or a position. Self-power is independent of agency power. We all know people who attract others to them, who communicate a vision and inspire confidence from others. It’s likely they have self-power. Strong leaders are not dependent upon approval from others or praise. They are also not swayed by criticism. They have an unwavering faith in themselves and their purpose. However, they do actively seek constructive feedback and look for ways to improve. Self-power enables true leaders to have a vision and act upon it.
Chopra said, “A leader is a symbolic soul for a collective consciousness.” I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means. Leaders immediately come to mind- compelling people with fervent followings. Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Oz, Cory Booker, Maya Angelou, Cesar Chavez. I believe all of these true leaders are thought leaders. They are using their voice in any way possible to communicate their ideas to others and shape our society. When they talk, people listen and even act.
As Latinos, we are in need of two things: thought leaders and more exposure for existing thought leaders. We need to hear the voices of our Latino leaders loud and clear on a national level. When faced with a lack of outlets for their voices, thought leaders create their own. We need to be in charge of our own stories. Consider the incredible success of the musical “In the Heights,” now touring nationally. Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda told a Latino story and now the whole nation has heard.
Unfortunately, many of our driven young people are focused on attaining material items or a certain position or job title. What if they were focused on changing the paradigm, inspiring others, and cultivating self-power? It would make a world of difference. Also, our successful Latino professionals should challenge themselves to share their voices and stories through public speaking, writing, blogging, or social media. Each person has a unique passion and gift to share with their world. If more Latinos cultivated their voices and became true leaders, and these voices gained traction, society would never be the same.
By guest contributor, Catarina Rivera.