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Fortune 100 CEO and University Trustee Dr Ramani Ayer shares secrets of success with Class of 2007 - Part II
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Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA Translate This Article
9 July 2007
The Four Common Traits of Great Leaders
In his commencement speech to the graduating class of 2007 at Maharishi University of Management Dr. Ramani Ayer, Chairman and CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., a Fortune 100 company, shared what he felt were the four common traits of great leaders. He began by quoting his mother who told him, 'You become what you are by the company you keep.' He urged students to study the lives of great leaders as he did. 'This way,' he told students, 'you could become a great leader yourself, and have a far-reaching, and more profound impact on society.'
Follow Your Dream
Great leaders embrace great, bold, positive ideas. He told students to get in touch with their own greatness, to follow their dreams. He cited the life of Mahatma Gandhi, how he was able to get the British government to change their position from forcing farmers to grow cash crops and taxing them to the point of poverty, to growing food for consumption instead. And he did this on a massive scale throughout India without resorting to violence.
Another trait common among great leaders, he discovered, is their powerful sense of self-awareness. No matter what is going on around them, they maintain their own inner integrity. Dr. Ayer described his own challenging experiences following September 11, 2001. After 9-11, the economy took a nosedive. Then Enron and other scandals in the financial sector followed. These events affected many companies including his own. Over the course of a few years The Hartford would lose four billion dollars. Dr. Ayer was under tremendous pressure but he managed to stay calm and centered, and weathered the stressful economic storm. He did not allow himself to become overshadowed by circumstances he realized he could not control. He attributed this quality of self-awareness and balance to his regular practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique, which he had learned as a student in college. In fact, he said, 'I owe all of my success to TM.' He encouraged students to continue their TM practice throughout their lives. This would allow them to hold onto their dreams when everyone around them might doubt them, and also keep them insulated from challenging changing circumstances, giving them the edge to stay competitive.
Strive For Excellence
The third trait Dr. Ayer mentioned was the passion leaders have for excellence. 'Great leaders continually challenge themselves. They continuously raise the bar on themselves, always striving for greater performance.' Here he cited the example of Benjamin Franklin and his pursuit for excellence in everything he did as an inventor, politician, essayist, etc. Franklin would read the essays of the great writers of his time, and then rewrite them in his own words, continuing to revise them until he expressed the same profound thought even more effectively than the original writer.
Increase Your Capacity to Love
The final trait, but certainly not the least, is love. Great leaders, Dr. Ayer said, have the capacity for love. 'It may sound hoaky,' he cautioned, 'but it's not.' Great leaders 'are committed to the growth of everyone in their company, to enriching their lives, and creating opportunities for them to grow and succeed. Without that, people cannot be expected to follow you.'
Here Dr. Ayer cited the example of Nelson Mandela, who emerged after 10,000 days, 27 1/2 years, in South African prisons, many of them in solitary confinement, but with no bitterness. Instead, he embraced his white guards, and expressed the resolution to heal the nation's long-standing racial divisions. He wanted to balance white fears with black hopes. This, he said, was the greatest example of love he had ever seen.
Dr. Ayer summed up his talk with these simple but potent words of advice: 'Let your Dream lead you, your Self guide you, your Passion drive you, and your Love prevail.'
Copyright © 2007 Global Good News(sm) Service.
Global Good News comment:
Please also see Part I of this article.
For information about Maharishi's seven-point programme to create a healthy, happy, prosperous society, and a peaceful world, please visit: Global Financial Capital of New York.
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