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The Heartbeat

7 Qualities Of Truly Great Leaders

Updated: Nov 7, 2022

By Dr. Rajeev Kurapati, January 10, 2014 4:12 AM EST

The truly great leaders in this world, no matter their field, are champions many ways. We tend to define a champion as someone who is objectively “better than.” What’s often ignored, though, are the more subtle attributes of a champion, the brilliantly understated qualities of a human being that make him or her truly a winner beyond the bounds of any game.

Whether a visionary leader, a consummate cook, a celebrated artist, an intelligent mathematician, astute politician, a dependable friend, a noble defender, or a charitable stranger, champions exist far beyond the sporting arena.

In the truest sense, a champion is not a finite title, but a work in progress. “Champion” is not solely a noun, but also a verb. Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Einstein, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Rabindranath Tagore, Rumi, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa – all of these incredible beings never crossed a finish line to be handed an award, they worked endlessly to go down in history as everlasting champions.

Being a true champion means understanding yourself in relation to the greater puzzle of life. From this wisdom springs your life’s true purpose. A champion doesn’t get distracted by the temptations of the ego. A champion transcends beyond the shallow, self-fulfilling desire to simply win someone over.

Here are seven qualities that define what it is to be a champion:

1. A central purpose in life grounded in human value that aligns with the greater good of others.

That means the good is not just for the self. Even if the person fails again and again to accomplish his goal, the strength of character gained will form a new starting point for future triumph. The champion’s meaning of life is driven by the joy and passion that comes from commitment to this great mission.

2. A devotion to ethics.

It’s important to note that the true champion realizes that these qualities are the essence of humanity not because someone coerced him to believe so, but because of a highly attuned moral compass. These ethics include:

  • Compassion

  • Tolerance

  • Contentment

  • Self-discipline

Champions recognize these beliefs as fundamental truths, not just social or religious obligations.

3. A sense of responsibility.

This responsibility is a product of deeming oneself as a valuable addition to the web of humanity. Champions realize (and wholeheartedly believe) that the universe does not favor the dishonest or the vicious, even when, on the mere surface, it may sometimes appear to do so.

4. Knowing that the resolution to conflict is rooted in respect and a deep sense of empathy.

An ability to recognize that conflict is bound to happen between humans is a key feature of this quality. Champions understand that there’s always room for others’ well-being, even in the midst of seeking self-fulfilling ambitions. Resolution comes from spirited dialogue, and is rooted in listening.

5. Unwavering concentration on the goal at hand.

Champions realize that there’s a time and place for diversion and amusements, but they never allow them to override their true purpose. Getting distracted by trifles is easy, but the path of least resistance is seldom the most fruitful.

6. Disregard for what doesn’t concern them.

Put simply, they don’t waste time worrying about what people think of them. They stick with their true self, refraining from trying to win over the superficial approval and admiration of others. In reality, they don’t long for others to see them as sophisticated, unique or wise. They remain steadfast in their avoidance of self-indulgence.

7. A point-of-view.

Champions aren’t afraid to take a stand. After internal contemplation to determine the best course of action, champions don’t discredit their decisions. They trust their intuition and, more importantly, their morality. Despite setbacks, they continue to stand squarely behind their actions, knowing that there will always be those who misunderstand their intentions and even condemn them.

The world is made beautiful thanks to these outstanding individuals – true champions who have elegantly conquered doubt and fear. Champions are driven by a creative impulse to fulfill missions of personal improvement and human advancement. These dreamers are the makers of our world.

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