Thursday, 12 January 2012

HOW TO GIVE A BETTER SPEECH THAN OBAMA and change your world - (RFK - Courage of a Leader) Darren Kelly, Kellcomm, Blog - Day 52


Great leaders know that you can only display true integrity and courage after you have paused for a moment of self-awareness. This moment challenges a leader to discover what may have been holding them back from their potential. Many of the people I admire are flawed individuals who decided to renew themselves by learning new skills and correcting old habits. I believe it takes real courage to admit a mistake and decide that maybe the Satellite Navigation for your life was calling out the wrong directions.

One of the people I admire most is Robert F Kennedy or Bobby to his family and followers. He lived in pre Satellite Navigation days, but his direction and drive were changed after he lost his brother, President John F Kennedy in 1963. For many years, he lived in the shadow of John. He managed John’s campaign to become president and worked alongside him in the post of Attorney General. When John was shot in Dallas in 1963, Bobby lost a brother, a friend, a soul mate and a boss. He sank into a depressing spiral, and his mind harboured a deep resentment for President Lyndon Johnson. Bobby could not accept that the new President gained praise for the Civil Rights Act that John had proposed. His anger and resentment found its biggest target – himself. He was alone politically, and his life lost direction.

Bobby eventually decided to forge his own political career and on March 16, 1968, he announced his intention to run for President. As he stepped out of his brother’s shadow, he found his true voice. He examined the errors he made while working with Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communism attacks. He reflected on his part in the 'The Bay Of Pigs' fiasco and his support for war in Vietnam. Bobby also revisited his once youthful ignorance of the plight of racially segregated people. He had achieved many great things, but he wanted to rectify a few errors and create a new vision for the American journey. It was Jackie Kennedy, who introduced him to the writings of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Their work had a profound effect on his decision to fulfil his own purpose. He was also greatly inspired by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who said that courage is "the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others." America’s crisis called for a leader, who was unafraid, who could bring together divided communities that feared and hated each other. Bobby developed the courage to change and the courage to lead. His courage allowed him to authentically challenge his followers to put their own self -interest aside to create a fairer society. Today,Obama possesses much of the sensitivity, integrity and glamour that Bobby possessed. Bobby was certainly not a natural speaker. Even the confidence of his family’s riches and the love of his audience couldn’t calm his nerves. Many people noticed his left leg shaking while he spoke in public. However, he eventually became a great speaker because of his character. Beautiful rhetoric and personality can help hold an audience's attention during a speech, but its character that creates a spirit to spirit connection that moves people to action.

Bobby gave his finest speech was on April 4, 1968 upon hearing the news that Martin Luther King had been shot and killed. The police advised Bobby not to speak, but he knew his country needed words that would heal rather than wound and divide. His five-minute speech was given at the back of a truck, and Bobby had no time to prepare and be briefed by his scriptwriters. He told his audience that he shared their anger, frustration and sadness because his brother was also killed by a white man. This was the first time he had spoken so deeply about his brother’s death. Bobby poured comfort into the hearts of black America while promoting the work of King’s mission for a peaceful and united America. He reminded them that King wanted an America where violence should have no place. While the killing of King sparked riots and unrest in over one hundred cities across America, but for Bobby’ speech, it could have been worse. He borrowed some words from his favourite poet Aeschylus, when he said, “Even in our sleep, pain, which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.” It must be remembered that Bobby was qualified to speak to King’s followers because his beautiful words were validated by his genuine commitment for racial justice.

Less than two years earlier, Bobby visited South Africa at the height of Apartheid and when he entered the airport, he noticed there was white and black segregation. He approached the black people first and this set the tone for a five-day visit that epitomised what is missing from so many speakers. Bobby showed that all great speakers are great listeners first. It is simply impossible to become a great speaker if you are not a great listener.

Bobby educated himself on the plight of a segregated people in South Africa so he could help them and help himself understand the struggles of black people in America. In his “Day of Affirmation” speech at the University of Cape Town, he spoke about the importance of standing up for an ideal to defeat injustice because those ripples have the power to spread everywhere.

Nobody can ever say that Bobby Kennedy didn’t stand up to make the world a better place. Bobby was shot dead in California in 1968, aged only 42. The audacity of Martin Luther King’s dream inspired Bobby’s “Ripple of Hope” and lives in Obama’s “Audacity of Hope,” and indeed, all our hopes.

Bobby Kennedy will be remembered as a family man who loved his wife Ethel and his children very deeply. He had a boyish charm that people adored, and he also proved that not all great leaders need a title to be remembered for their courage.Obama has a title and now his courage as a leader will be tested like never before.

Tomorrow, I will share with you my thoughts on Obama's greatest book.

Take care,


PS: 'HOW TO GIVE A BETTER SPEECH THAN OBAMA and change your world' - is available on iTunes and Amazon NOW!
Audio Version only.
Text version out January 31st.

Kellcomm, Princes Exchange, Princes Square,Leeds, LS1 4HY, United Kingdom

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