I read an article the other day where President Obama was quoted as saying he would be happy to serve one term as President. As I thought more about that statement the more I began to think that everyone should be happy with “one-term”.
If we all approached leadership with the mind-set that we had a finite time to lead, I think it would spur us to work with a much greater sense of urgency as well as provide us with the confidence to do that which is necessary on our watch. With the way things are in politics and business, it leads people to make decisions that are designed more to preserve the status quo than to address the difficult and significant problems before us.
What would you do if you knew you only had one-term? Would you be able to focus clearly on the challenges ahead and make the difficult decisions? Wouldn’t it provide a sense of freedom to know that your only job is to take the necessary actions without regard to how it plays in the media?
In the end, leadership (of any kind) is not a lifetime appointment. It cannot be as it requires far too much of your soul to do it effectively for very long. Leaders loose pieces of themselves during the leadership process and these are not pieces that come back with a little rest. These are pieces of our very essence and the reason that serving four years in the Presidency ages you by 10+ years.
To a certain extent, leadership accelerates the process of aging due to the knowledge we gain as well as the heaviness of the burdens we bear. These are the collective burdens of those in our charge…their hopes and dreams…and the responsibility to provide for them. To give them the courage to be who they were meant to be…isn’t that the very core of leadership? I think so.