Hello there Legacy Leaders,
I have missed you all.
For those of you who’ve been with me for a while, you know I believe in the principles of clarity and consistency. It’s been an interesting start to the year, prepping for more consistency (the clarity came around the holidays). With each passing day, I see an increasing need for conversations that stem from, deal with, and seek to resolve “the American family crisis.”
Point blank and simple, our nation is in turmoil because our homes are in disarray. The sad part is, we are so deep in the muck and mire of the chaos that we can’t see the forest from the trees. Truth be told, as a whole we have no idea just how bad things really are.
Yes, we know more than half of all marriages are ending in divorce. We know more than half of America’s homes are headed by single parents – the majority of which are single mothers. We know there are all kinds of adverse affects related to the lack of a healthy father-child relationship that manifest during early development and can persist into adulthood. We know that these issues are disproportionately represented in low-income and minority communities (read – affects poor whites and affluent minorities alike).
We know. We know. We know.
It’s disparaging and a bit debilitating, especially when you consider that I’m flooding your inbox with these depressing stats on Valentine’s Day weekend, when most of you are being inundated with amorous propaganda. For some this is a monkey wrench in your love-fest, while others might just see these stats as justification to steer clear of the flowers, chocolate and vino.
Granted, it is likely to end badly, but that isn’t a guarantee.
In order to minimize these possible outcomes we have to trace them to their root. We have to find the root cause of all the issues because it isn’t enough to identify the symptoms, or even talk about them, if we don’t have any plausible solutions for curing the actual disease.
And I have one.
Yes, that’s right. After years of researching, inquiring and just plain overcoming, I can honestly say I not only know the root cause of our issues, but I have a solution. I know what’s missing.
I know, right? Wait…
You’ve heard that before? You mean someone else already told you that the answer to happier, healthier homes; long-standing unions; whole and happening children who can lead us to the kind of future we deserve…. is more love?
Oh, well did they tell you that most of us are defining love all wrong?
In nearly every other language, there are different words for different types of love, even love at different levels. Is it brotherly, mutual appreciation, romantic, purely sexual, spiritual? Is it a sacrificial familial love or an all-powerful, all-purposeful love that can liberate from yourself and the confines of worldly limitations? (I want that one.)
It’s likely you’ve heard of philia, eros and agape love; but what about ludus, storge or philautia? It is this last one, philautia – the love of self, that I believe holds the key to our healing in this country – and the world.
When we love ourselves, fully and wholly without vanity and ego, it frees us up to love others the same way. A healthy self-love allows us to create meaningful boundaries and leverage mutually beneficial relationships. It is when we are most loving toward ourselves, when we are kind and fair in our self-assessments, that we can offer the same to those who mean the most to us.
Parents who love themselves, love their children – they uplift and fortify them; they protect them and preserve their childhood for as long as they can. Spouses who love themselves honor their union and respect their partners; they recognize the importance of their role and their counterpart’s. A spouse who loves himself will find joy in his day-to-day. (And invent some creative ways to share that joy with his wife. Hey it is Valentine’s Day. I’m trying to help some of you out.)
We need more people with a healthy self-love; a selfless, sacrificial, active/activist love. We need more people with the love to lead.
The love to lead is not a love of leading or of leaders, nor it is a desire to take charge. It has nothing to do with one’s propensity for leadership and everything to do with the motives propelling her toward it.
The love to lead is all about legacy – living in legacy, leaving a legacy, doing the legacy work.
The love to lead is all about honoring the foundation that has been laid by those before us and building upon it for the future, while simultaneously being present in the now. The love to lead is about living for today while planning for the future; offering a hand in teaching the next generation and using the other to lovingly navigate our elders through a new and ever-changing world.
When you have the love to lead, you have the heart to be “the one.” Your priority isn’t becoming the next MLK, Malcolm X, Sourjourner, Harriet or the Obamas; instead, you are “the one.” The one your family and friends can depend on. The one the young people can come to for advice. The one your peers can depend on to set the standard then raise the bar. The one who willing to get it all wrong trying to do what’s right.
That’s what it takes to be the one; what it means when you have the love to lead.
So how’s this pertain to the family, you ask? As promised….
The Family Factor
Whether you know it or not, people are already looking up to you. Someone, somewhere sees you as a measure of success. Are you loving yourself enough, and giving yourself your best, so that bar continues to rise? Do you regularly (and lovingly) push yourself outside of your comfort so you can give yourself something to be proud of, and them something epic to aspire to? No matter whether we’re talking about your biological kids or those you’ve vowed to raise, mentees, peers, or even strangers in the general public: A good example always trumps great advice. And you can tweet that!
Leading in love,
Akima Aiken Brown
So tell me, do you have it – the love to lead? Let me know in the comments or join us online in our Legacy Builders’ Facebook Group.