This article is written in memory of Easter Davis who passed away last month. Easter was a master seamstress, designer, and couturier. A needle, thread, and fabric in her hands became tools of an accomplished artist!
I was in South Africa working with women there when Easter passed. While there, one question was asked repeatedly: What are the qualities needed to excel or become a leader in any field? The answer I gave is one I have been thinking about for many years. I told them three Cs and one R – COMPETENCE, CONFIDENCE, COURAGE, AND RESILIENCE. Characteristics easily found in Easter Davis’s life story.
COMPETENCE. I speak of it in almost every article. You must be able to do well that which you are paid to do – that which is your chosen field of endeavor. Competence is not a fixed state. It requires continuous sharpening of skills. Never settle for “just okay”. Mediocrity never produces excellent results.
CONFIDENCE. Confidence is supported by competence. Know what you know. Know what you do not know. Admitting what you do not know helps you avoid becoming arrogant. Think about what you have already learned and accomplished. You have the capacity to learn something new, do something different, or do the same thing differently.
COURAGE. Like confidence, you nurture courage in the depths of your gut. I do not know of any course you can take to get it. Courage propels you to do the thing you feel you cannot do – To move forward even when you are frightened – To take a stand even when you are the only one – To launch a new idea or travel an uncharted path.
Competence, confidence, and courage. The three Cs essential to excel or become a leader in any field.
Then there is the R – RESILIENCE. You may be old enough to remember a toy called “Punching Judy”. It was a large balloon thing with a painted clown face and body. The bottom was round and weighted. As a child, it was as tall as I was. I would punch it hard and it would fall back, and then return to an upright position. I would punch it harder; it would fall back and still return to upright. I just loved that thing!
To excel in any field, and certainly to become a leader, you must recover from blows like a Punching Judy. If you haven’t been psychologically or emotionally punched, disappointed, or disillusioned, you haven’t lived long enough. Perhaps you need to try something new and different. Perhaps you need to take a stand for or against something. You will feel the blows. They will hurt. But, there is joy and satisfaction in bouncing back, knowing you are competent, and you have the confidence and the courage to try it again – to go another round.