Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day here in the states. Mr. King is widely recognized as the greatest of our civil rights leaders, pressing for fairness and human rights for a people who had precious little of either. He led marches and rallies, preached non-violence, and asked people to live up to a higher standard than they thought possible. And for his troubles, he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
He is most famous for his speech, delivered at the March on Washington in 1963, when he said, in part: “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”
Over two decades, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered hundreds of speeches and shared his thoughts on human dignity, change, and leadership. It isn’t quite right to say that Mr. King was an entrepreneur, at least in the traditional sense of running a small business. But it’s not too far off the mark. Here are a few things he said that other leaders can learn from:
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”
“Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”
“We must use time creatively.”
“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”
“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”
“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
“It does not matter how long you live, but how well you do it.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.