Sunday, July 29, 2007

Muhammad Ali: A Quiet Respect for his Courage and Conviction

If you followed the boxing career of Muhammad Ali, you would question the sanity of any blogger who would post about "The Greatest" in any "Quiet" setting. How could anyone say that Muhammad Ali had anything in common with "Quiet Leadership?"

You are right. I am not ready to include the boxing great in my list of quiet leaders. However, a recent weekend car trip gave me an opportunity to listen to the audio version of Ali's book,
The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life's Journey. The book changed my perception of the man.

It's Showmanship
Ali writes, "During my boxing career, you did not see the real Muhammad Ali." Through the book, Ali wants to shift focus from the showmanship and bravado to the "real" Ali, his humanity, his spirituality, and his courage. Ali successfully changed my perception. In a quiet way, Ali is looking to change the world.

Character, Courage and Conviction
I was impressed with Ali's conviction and courage after he replayed the events surrounding the conflict between his spiritual beliefs and his eminent induction into the Army during the Vietnam war. I am old enough to remember the event. It left an impression and if you had asked me about it before listening to the book, I would have used the label "draft dodger." Now I view the events with an admiration for Ali's courage and conviction. Ali risked and lost much with his decision not to accept his induction. He stuck to his beliefs (which the book convinced me were authentic), took the punishment, and came back.

The bottom line is that I would take this courage and conviction anytime over the draft avoidance approach used by our current president. Ali's character, conviction and courage is a good model for any quiet leader.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

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