One of my team mates requested that I share this letter I sent to my team to my blog. She felt many of my readers would be interested in my experience of the dinner with President George W. Bush Jr. If you would like to share your comments, I invite you to post them on my facebook page. See letter below:
As a few of you know, last night Eileen and I had the honor of going to a dinner with former President George W. Bush at a fund raising event here in Phoenix. I was one of 32 people who were selected to attend a private reception with him, as well. It was quite an honor, regardless of your political affiliations. He was extremely personable, approachable, fun and funny and deeply confident…..and yes…. VERY articulate.
It was a bit of a reality check to be sitting literally 5 feet from a person who was at one time conceivably the most powerful leader on the planet! Yet, he came across like he was a great friend not someone aloof and distant.
He was promoted to be speaking on “faith-based Presidency.” I expected it to be very denominational, especially considering the fund raising was for Arizona Christian University. However, what I found was something much deeper.
In talking about faith, he was not talking necessarily about religion. He said as a leader you must have “crisp decision making” capability. He said that when there are so many things flowing at you simultaneously, you must have rock solid principles that are unwavering in order to be able to make those decisions.
So, in talking about “faith”, he was speaking about faith in a set of principles. For him it was principles that he learned from his family, his upbringing and his religion. He said that he admired Abraham Lincoln because he also was “principle based.”
Many times, we take the word “faith” and attach religious connotation to it. But what I took away, was as a leader, you must have a core of principles as your foundation and a faith in those principles as guiding lights toward how you address the world around you.
He said faith is hard. It requires discipline. And it requires tremendous patience. I agree.
As he recalled key moments in his Presidency, I began to see a different view of him. I began to understand that in spite of what people think about you, you have to have an eternal optimism about where you are going. An optimism that your set of principles that you have faith in, will take you and your team to the goal or to the “promised land.”
He said that America has a tendency to want to isolate and protect itself. He said that we have to resist that temptation, have faith in our founding principles and exercise extreme patience. He said freedom takes time to develop and grow. His global view was hugely optimistic.
I met one other President in my life and that was Clinton years ago. While the personalities of these two men are like night and day….the one thing I found in common with them both was their incredible optimism of the world we live in. Their global views and the way they sorted historical and current events made a person feel lucky to be alive.
While their views may have been different, they were both infectious with their ability to see the best in humanity and to arrange the evidence that we are all moving in the right direction…this gave me a new perspective on being a leader.
The President was right. You have to have faith in something bigger than you. A set of principles that is unwavering in the face of opposition. But a set of principles that sees the BEST in people. That sees principles such as freedom and equality as rock solid principles that will ultimately bring out the best in everyone.
He was right….it does take discipline and patience. If you let the drama of the moment alter your faith in the principles, you will never be an effective leader.
Eileen and I came away from the evening with a very warm feeling. A very different experience than what we expected. We were uplifted, we were included, we were emboldened, we were made to feel proud of who we are, what we stand for and where we are going, as did everyone present. That is what a leader does.
I also really got that if you are reading this…we are all in the right place at the right time with the right set of principles. We have to have faith in them and patience. We have to never forget to engage, include, be optimistic and personable. Our task is to foster freedom to live the dreams we and our communities were meant to realize. Our principles set out in our mission and Code of Honor have got to be rock solid.
You have your own principles as well, based upon your background. How much faith do you have in them? How much faith do you have in the consequences of adhering to those principles? Great questions to ask yourself. We all have pivotal moments in our lives. It is that foundational platform that you hold that determines the outcomes of those pivotal moments.
Like the President, I believe that these are the best of times and that we are all moving the right direction. It takes patience and discipline and faith.
It is an honor to be a part of all of you…