Audio Blog, 8:18
Arthurian legend tells of King Arthur engaging the Knights of The Roundtable in important discussions in order to gain their perspectives on the relevant issues of Camelot. The significance of The Roundtable’s shape was that it did not include a seat at the head of the table, imparting equality and value to each Knight’s opinions and expertise. Legend has it that King Arthur selected these advisors very carefully, and then welcomed them to The Roundtable to utilize their experiences in his quest to become an excellent leader.
As we move through life’s journey to accomplish our ambitious objectives, we need a group of sages, call them “Knights of The Roundtable”, to help guide us through the complex decisions.
For clarity, I am not referring to the important people (the mentors, friends and family members) who are actually in your life. They are certainly critical and cannot be replaced. In fact, achieving success without having the love, support, acceptance, camaraderie, consistency and loyalty of this group must feel like a hollow victory.
However, when I ask “Who Are The Knights At Your Roundtable?” I am referring to a fictional group of “virtual sages” providing valuable advice and insight that is helpful along your journey. The knowledge and perspectives that can be learned from these historical achievers is obtained through the deliberate study of their lives. I believe that one of the most important actions that you can take to improve the odds of success is to identify “The Knights At Your Roundtable”, and begin to learn and emulate their best attributes.
When I was in my early twenties, I developed this concept because I believed that achieving my objectives was going to require counsel beyond the experiences of (myself and) my most respected confidants. Additionally, I have always been deeply interested in learning about the lives of exceptional people.
How did they achieve greatness?
These “Knights” possessed the high standards that I aspired to meet when faced with the challenges of life. Of course, I always fell short of their exceptional standards, but the effort to achieve these attributes resulted in noticeable self-improvement.
My “Roundtable” included the following “Knights”:
Sir Winston Churchill: His bold and courageous leadership during the darkest days of World War II demonstrated the human capability to “carry on” under extreme circumstances. The “finest hour speech” delivered by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on 18 June 1940 is a classic, and one of the most timely and inspirational speeches of all time.
General Colin Powell: I was embarking on a career in the U.S. Army, and there was no better role model for success in the military. America’s top officer believed in positive leadership to maximize operational effectiveness, and his ability to navigate effortlessly amongst so many different groups of people, was truly unique and impressive.
President Nelson Mandela: Reading his book, “Long Walk To Freedom”, provided me with an example of the highest standards of emotional endurance, reconciliation and maintenance of a long-term perspective. Twenty-seven years at Robben Island prison did not consume him with bitterness, but it emboldened him with hope.
Dale Carnegie: The ultimate teacher in human relations, he authored perhaps the greatest book ever written on inter-personal skills: “How To Win Friends And Influence People”. This should be mandatory reading for every high school student.
Frederick Douglass: Born a slave and forbidden from learning how to read, this extraordinary American escaped bondage, educated himself, and reached the pinnacle of the Abolitionist movement as a leading intellectual thinker and social reformer. When you read his autobiography, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”, you learn an unbelievable story of resilience, mental toughness and determination to overcome unspeakable hardships.
The Dalai Lama: An exceptional role model of humility, patience and fulfillment, The Dalai Lama’s capacity for empathy in order to understand conflict, is quite remarkable. He teaches how to project a wonderful sense of humor, kind spirit and acceptance of other’s short comings.
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale: A self-help writer and speaker from the early twentieth century, Dr. Peale wrote an extremely valuable book called “The Power of Positive Thinking”. The book focused on developing faith and inspiration on your journey through life, and encouraged readers to break the “worry habit” and experience a relaxed life.
President Teddy Roosevelt: His undaunted and confident leadership during the 1898 charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba was remarkable, and a testament to the “lead from the front” motto. A wealthy and powerful man with much to lose, he volunteered to lead his troops into battle under exceptional risk.
Anthony Robbins: His book “Awaken The Giant Within” changed my view on the level of energy and enthusiasm that I could generate on a daily basis by establishing a mental routine and affirmations towards achievement.
Peter Lynch: The legendary money manager at Fidelity Investments wrote the New York Times best-seller, “Beating The Street”, and introduced me to long term saving and investing concepts that have stood the test of time.
Napoleon Hill: Another classic motivational speaker and writer who delivered the famous book, “Think And Grow Rich”. The lesson learned was simple: “What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve”.
General Benjamin O. Davis: General Davis lived a fascinating life of trailblazing. After the corp of cadets gave him the silent treatment for the entire four years at the academy, he became the first black graduate of West Point in the 20th century. General Davis was the first black officer to earn his flight wings as a pilot, and went on to become the first Commander of the famed WWII Tuskegee Airmen. After the unit achieved an impressive record in combat with 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses awarded, he became the first black general in the U.S. Air Force. His patriotism, tenacity and focus on the objectives, through harsh criticism and unfair treatment, was legendary.
These “Knights Of The Roundtable” were instrumental in my ability and confidence to make decisions whenever I reached a fork in the road. Without this historical perspective, I would have relied on my limited knowledge and experiences, which certainly could not match the perspective of “The Roundtable”.
The question I will leave you to answer: Who Are The Knights At Your Roundtable?