Personal Mastery & Leadership LO6566
Wed, 10 Apr 1996 10:55:06 -0400

I was very moved last night as I watched for three hours people bear
witness to the memory of Ron Brown in a celebration of his life. There was
the story of a prejudiced southern senator, who put his hand on his
shoulder and said: You've done all the right things for the party, but
it's not your time, IT"S NOT TIME for a black man to lead the national
party. Ron didn't react and after the senator left he kind of shook up and
down, obviously very agitated, and then he walked out to the podium and
gave the most moving speech the national democratic assembly had ever
heard. "I looked down at the southern senator", said the storyteller, "and
he was slumped over with his face in his hands, and I knew Ron had won".

In story after story it was obvious that Ron Brown did what he believed,
was true to himself, could sense the higher purpose and serve it, could
bring his energy and enthusiam to bear and could bring people together
around that higher purpose so they could let go of their differences and
discover the magic of community and commitment. There was the story of the
thirteen unions in the Commerce department, told by one of the workforce,
who said he was the best secretary the department had ever had and related
how he got the union and management to work together and how they had
bridged their differences.

And there was the story from Henry Cisneros, who spoke about the retreat
after the national election where they sat around a fire at camp David and
the president asked Ron what his mission was for the Commerce department.
Cisneros recalled that Ron spoke from his heart about bringing hope and
opportunity to people in the US through an activist stand on exports and
he wanted to lift up the lives of people in other countries through
economic opportunity as well. And he was not afraid to stand up in cabinet
meetings and confront the president or persuade him with his knowledge and
connections to Harlem where he grew up, the needs of large and small
businesses, the black community, the military where he served as a
captain, and the national consciousness (he knew hundreds of majors, local
politicians, the minds of senators and the congress and everyday
Americans). And his advice was reliable and accurate.

Watching last night, I learned first and foremost, that Ron Brown was
admired and loved by his family, his friends, the national democratic
party, the common people (who he never distanced himself from), that he
was here to serve, that he was graceful in his movement, his style, his
speech and his manner and that he had integrity. I went to bed with a few
questions for myself: Is it possible for me to act with that kind of grace
and bearing under pressure? Can I use myself in a way that brings out the
best in everyone that I come in contact with? Am I willing to empower
myself, to the extent that Ron Brown did, to build the competence and
confidence and trust it in action; to act from a space of wanting to win
for myself and at the same time to create opportunities for others? Am I
living congruently with my own purpose or am I off course and if I am, how
do I get back on?

Perhaps Ron Brown is still bringing out the best in people who come in
contact with him through those who knew him best.

Steven Cabana
Whole System Associates
PO Box 254
Lincoln, MA 01773
508-466-6884 phone and fax


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