Thursday, 22 November 2012


I heard it once said that a good example has twice the value of a good advice. I came across a powerful leadership story that I would like to share which highlights what is leading by example all about. We always think that to be a leader, an individual must have an ability to motivate group of people towards a common goal. Being a leader is very different than being a boss. Its role is similar to a father who has responsibility to lead and guide his family, from the birth of his children until they grow up and complete their study in addition to being a successful person in the future. This is a common goal for every big happy family.

                My father is not a famous and a career-oriented person, but till now I regard him as a highly educated individual. I have learnt from his actions, not by words alone and he would always teach and show me how to be a leader. My father was a lorry driver and a very hardworking person to support his family. He made sure that his children will get a better life in future and do not follow his footsteps as a lorry driver. I remembered on one day sweet day during school holiday, he brought his children, one by one to experience the hardship and difficulties of his work so that this experience would become a valuable lesson. 
                I have eight siblings and it was my turn to accompany my father to work as a lorry driver, loading timber to Pasir Gudang, Johor. Along the journey, I tried not to sleep because I wanted to chat with my father so that he would not feel sleepy too. I asked my father, why he had chosen the job as a lorry driver. He answered, Never turn down any golden opportunity in future because I made a mistake when rejected a good opportunity and the opportunity will not come back because it only comes once in a lifetime. I was surprised by my father's saying that opportunity will not reappear on a second time. After we had a chat, I realised that my father had received an offer to be an English teacher at Alor Star, Kedah. He rejected that offer just because he wanted to travel and live independently.

                From that experience, I was committed and made great stride to study hard so that I will not let down my familys hope. Even though my father could not spend time together with his family members, but whenever he returned back and on leave, he would ask the progress of our studies. At times, he advised me not to focus on extra-curricular activities too much because he was worried that I could not concentrate on my studies. I had to convince him that I would not neglect my studies while participating in extra-curricular activities. I realised that as a leader, an individual could not focus on two different things at the same time. But as a child, we had to convince our parents and double-up our efforts so that we could reach our aspiration successfully.
                F. John Reh mentioned that a leader has a vision. Leaders see a problem that needs to be fixed or a goal that needs to be achieved. It may be something that no one else wants to tackle. Whatever it is, it is the focus of the leaders attention and they work on it with a single-minded determination. They have a clear goal in mind and committed to get there. Whether anyone else shares that vision or not, they push forward towards it. They do not allow anything or anyone elses fears or doubts get in the way of them reaching their goal. They are always positive that they will get there.
                One of the leaders I want to highlight is Malcolm X, also known as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, born on May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother Louise Norton Little suffered emotional breakdown several years after the death of her husband. It was rumored that Malcolm Xs father died because he was killed by white supremacists. His mother was committed to a mental institution, Kalamazoo State Hospital. Her children were separated and sent to various foster homes and orphanages and at that time, Malcolm X was thirteen. Malcolm was a smart, focused student. He graduated from junior high at the top of his class. However, when a favorite teacher responded to Malcolm that his dream of becoming a lawyer was no realistic goal for a nigger, it made Malcolm felt hat the white world offered no place for a career-oriented black man, regardless of his talent. Malcolm then lost interest in school.

He dropped out, spent some time in Boston, Massachusetts working various odd jobs, and then traveled to Harlem, New York where he committed petty crimes. By 1943, Malcolm was engaged in drug dealing, gambling, racketeering, robbery and pimping. In 1946, Malcolm and his friend Shorty Jarvis were arrested and convicted on burglary charges, and Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in prison. But he was paroled after serving an eight to ten year sentence at Charlestown State Prison.
                Normally people would prefer to share those have a nice, special and qualities background, but for me, I like to share about Malcolm X because he was one of the victims of discrimination which always happen in the world, in which those who have capabilities and potentials to lead, will give up and become a person that they would never want to be. This happened to Malcolm. Recalling his days while in prison, he used the time to further his education. It was during the period of self-enlightenment that Malcolms brother, Reginald visited and discussed his recent conversion to Muslim religion. Intrigued, Malcolm begun to study the teachings of the Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Ellijah Muhammad and in late 1948, Malcolm wrote to Muhammad who advised him to renounce his past, humbly bow in prayer to Allah, and promised not to engage in destructive behavior again.

                Intelligent and articulate, Malcolm was appointed as a minister and national spokesman for the NOI. Ellijah Muhammad also charged him in establishing new mosques in cities such as Detroit, Michigan and Harlem, New York. Malcolm utilised newspaper columns, as well as radio and television to communicate the NOI's message across the United States. His charisma and conviction attracted an astounding number of new members. Malcolm was largely credited with increasing membership in the NOI from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963.
                Malcolm said that, I am not educated, nor am I an expert in any particular field.... but I am sincere and my sincerity is my credential". Since joining the NOI, Malcolm had strictly adhered to the teachings of Muhammad which included remaining celibate until his marriage to Betty Shabazz in 1958. Malcolm refused Muhammads request for help to cover up the affairs and subsequent children. He was deeply hurt by deception of Muhammad, whom he had considered a living prophet. In March 1964, Malcolm terminated his relationship with the NOI and decided to found his own religious organisation, the Muslim Mosque Inc. In that same year, Malcolm went on pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia and the trip proved life altering, returned to the United States with a new outlook on integration and a new hope for the future. This time when Malcolm spoke, instead of just preaching to African-Americans, he had a message for all races. Then he knew, human right is something you were born with. Human right is your God-given rights. Human rights are the rights that are recognised by all nations of this earth.

                Referring to the debate was Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X is the great leaders, one out of ten said that Malcolm was a great leader even though Malcolm was a drug dealer, drug user and gambler. Yet, he took it upon himself to learn to read, to learn to articulate and hone his speech, to learn proper mannerisms, to stand as a man, to learn the politics and ways of the world. These qualities were not given nor trained to him but he earned it and learned it by his own. He ever said, "Without education, you're not going anywhere."

                He was extremely militant, a separatist, border lining hatred for his Caucasian counterparts. However, after came back from Mecca, Malcolm became a real man and realised that he was wrong. Malcolm X believed that before we go to someone else's house, we must clean up our own. In other words, Malcolm X believed that in order for us to excel in this "integrated"  society, we must get ourselves together first. We must build ourselves up, so we are strong enough and resilient enough to come together with other races for common good. He was not a racist, nor is anyone that believes in his teachings. He merely believed that if the United State is a melting pot for various nationalities as it claims to be, then we must be strong and proud and, most importantly, knowledgeable of our own history and heritage before we can learn about others. He believed in Black Pride. That doesn't make the man a racist. It makes him a black nationalist. One of Malcolm X's famous quotes is, "I am not a racist. I am against every form of racism and segregation, every form of discrimination. I believe in human beings, and that all human beings should respect as such, regardless of their colour".

                After leaving the NOI, Malcolm X announced his willingness to work with leaders of the civil rights movement, though he felt that it could change its focus to human rights. Malcolm X declared that he and the other members of the Organization of Afro-American Unity were determined to defend themselves from aggressors, and to secure freedom, justice and equality "by whatever means necessary", arguing that if the government was unwilling  or unable to protect black people, they should protect themselves. Because of Malcolm was one of the charismatic spokesman, there were a few people did not like it. He received many death threats from Nation of Islam members. His home in New York, in Queens, was set on fire on February 14, 1965 a week before his death. The February 22, New York Times, presented quotation from an interview he gave on Feb. 18, "I'm a marked man. It doesn't frighten me for myself as long as I felt they will not hurt my family. No one can get out without trouble, and this thing with me will be resolved by death and violence".

                Malcolm X has been described as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. He is credited with raising the self-esteem of Black Americans and reconnecting them with their African heritage. He is largely responsible for the spread of Islam in the black community in the United States. Many African Americans especially those who lived in cities in the Northern and Western United States, felt that Malcolm X articulated their complaints concerning inequality better than the mainstream civil rights movement did.

                On Feb. 21, 1965, the former NOI leader Malcolm X was shot and killed by assassins identified as Black Muslims as he was about to address the Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem. He was 39. Within days of the assassination, questions were raised about who bore ultimate responsibility. On February 23, James Farmer, the leader of the Congress of Racial Equality, announced at a news conference that local drug dealers, and not the NOI, were to blame. Others accused the NYPD, the FBI, or the CIA, citing the lack of police protection, the ease with which the assassins entered the Audubon Ballroom, and the failure of the police to preserve the crime scene.

                For many, Malcolm X is a cultural hero and a symbol of black pride and social protest. What does his legacy mean? In various opinions, should this complex, self-made civil rights and spiritual leader be remembered for the messages he advocated for a majority of his public life or for the reformed beliefs of his later life.

                February 1965: The Final Speeches book by Malcolm X is an interesting collection of speeches that shows that the extraordinary transformation Malcolm X made during the few years following his journey to Mecca and Africa and his break with the Nation of Islam. It underscores the fact he was in the midst of broadening his views from the strict black nationalism of Elijah Muhammad and beginning to embrace the Pan-Africanism embodied in his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the time of his assassination. In which collected together for the first time are the speeches and interviews of the Malcolm X from the last three weeks of his life. One of his famous quotations in his speech is, "We declare our right in this be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary."

                Besides that Malcolm X always remind the society especially to the youth regarding their behaviour and education. He said that, "Education is the passport to  the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today". And to the youth, teenagers and students, he kept remind that don't do a same mistake what he have done before. 

                As conclusion, why I have chosen Malcolm X and his leadership skills here, not because he was a drug dealer, gambler, and racism person, but from the other side, how he survived from the discrimination just because he was a Black American or they were always call 'nigger', even though, he was a great student in high school. He developed of his self-education in prison, and of his attraction to, and eventual prominence in, the Nation of Islam. In the late 1960s, as black activists became more radical, Malcolm X and his teachings were part of foundation on which they built their movements. The Black Power movement, The Black Arts Movement, and the widespread adoption of the motto "Black is beautiful" can all trace their roots to Malcolm X.

                There are so many memorials and tributes to Malcolm X. It will help people especially Black American remember and knew his legacy. He was very strong and never showed his fear of the threatening to kill him and he what just he said is, as long as they will never hurt his family. If I'm in his shoe, I scared to see people and give a speech to the public. It shows that, how Malcolm X serious with his responsibility regarding the human being and human rights. Norman Allen quoted that, "Skill in the art of communication is crucial to a leader's success. He can accomplish nothing unless he can communicate effectively".

NAI, Sidang C
DPA 1/2012

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