I write this letter on Dr. Martin Luther King Day. As we celebrate his life and immeasurable contribution to our society, I try to learn from him. His example of leadership is inspirational to me. He epitomized the three components of leadership that guide me – vision, intention, and energy.
MLK had a dream of the future, a better world and a vision of the possible. His vision was the foundation of his leadership and an inspiration to millions. I’ve understood the importance of vision better since I heard the Lewis Carroll saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” MLK knew where he was going. He saw over the mountain.
I’ve been a day-dreamer and a planner all my life. In a cotton field in Arkansas I dreamed of an education and a career and made that vision a goal. I made sure that I got good grades and stayed out of trouble so I could get that education that my parents could not afford. I earned that education and the eventually built a career as a strategic planner and financial planner at Monsanto. There’s not time to tell all those stories now. Now I’m constantly planning at my company, GRAN PRIX Bowling Supply.
I have to insert that my best plan was to make sure that I got the seat next to the only girl in my accounting class. And together we made a very good plan to move to Creve Coeur in 1976.
A good leader must be able to articulate a vision in words and convey it to others. Great national leaders have transformed vision into oratory, MLK perhaps better than any other. I’m not very good at making speeches. But I have tried to put my vision for Creve Coeur into words on www.crevecoeurvoter.com and here at www.caldwellforcrevecoeur.com.
A blank sheet of paper cannot be an effective leader.
A leader transforms a vision into action. Action conveys an intention to lead – the second component. One of the best idea men I ever knew in business never accomplished much because he rarely took the critical step from a vision to an action. He did not have an intention. MLK exemplified intention and determination. He did not lead from a position of power as a government official. He led through action and communication. He had to go there, be there, share his vision, and inspire others. He had an intention to accomplish something, an intention to lead.
I had an intention to improve our community when I created www.crevecoeurvoter.com. I have been sharing my vision and ideas for almost six years now. I have helped residents make their case to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. I have helped city staff with complex financial analyses. I have provided objective, constructive, creative input on issue after issue. That was why I was recognized as Creve Coeur Citizen of the Year – having never served on an official city committee.
That brings me to the third component of leadership – Energy. That is the quality of having the persistence, both mental and physical. to keep on working to achieve a goal. As a musical theater buff, I think of Man of La Mancha and the concept of a “last ounce of courage’. MLK had that. We can apply such a sublime concept to our daily lives and our ordinary problems.
I have attended over 200 P&Z, City Council, and other Creve Coeur committee meetings to hear first hand what residents and city officials are saying and to understand their expectations and concerns. Having the energy to attend all these meetings, research the issues in depth, provide input to the Council as an independent voice, and support residents has allowed me to gain a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. I am thankful that I am at a point in time in my life and business, with the support of others, that I can take the time to pursue this course.
I have listened and learned. It has bothered me that I have seen P&Z Commissioners and City Council members take office who never attended the meetings before. That’s one reason I decided to become a candidate this year – as a capable and experienced Council member, Beth Kistner, could not be a candidate due to term limits. I will not need “on-the-job” training. I am ready to go on day one, with vision, intention, and energy.
I sincerely ask for your vote on April 2.