By: Madisyn Travisano, Scholarship Winner —
The public figure that I admire most, isn’t necessarily someone that most people in my generation would pick. The person I chose was Winston Churchill. When closely looking at his reign as British Prime Minister in the 40s and 50s, he epitomized what a leader should be.
To start off his leadership campaign, Churchill had become a staunch critic of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement toward the Nazis. And he won. After becoming prime minister in 1940, Churchill helped lead a successful Allied strategy with the U.S. and Soviet Union during World War II to defeat the Axis powers and craft post-war peace. As the war wound down, Churchill proposed plans for social reforms in Britain but was unable to convince the public.
He became prime minister for the second time in October 1951. Churchill went on to introduce reforms such as the Mines and Quarries Act of 1954, which improved working conditions in mines, and the Housing Repairs and Rent Act of 1955, which established standards for housing. As with other influential world leaders, Churchill left behind a complicated legacy. Remembered by his countrymen for defeating the dark regime of Hitler and the Nazis, yet to critics, his steadfast commitment to British imperialism underscored his disdain for other races and cultures.
With his controversial historical narrative, it hardly seems like a 19-year-old woman would find a shunned world leader inspirational. However, it is his ability to be consistently steadfast despite popular opinion that I admire. Oftentimes, leadership requires making a decision that the majority doesn’t understand. He was an outstanding, brave leader who accomplished so much good for his country, yet still, history highlights his mistakes.
A leader can do the great work, be an extraordinary advocate and world changer, yet their missteps are what will be critiqued to no end. True leaders achieve because it is in their DNA to keep pushing forward, growing, learning for the common good. Leaders of true integrity put their blood, sweat, and tears into their next project. Despite being criticized for their mistakes, it’s about changing the lives of people around them.
Being a young leader today people will praise you for trying to make a change without actually listening to what you are saying. Yet the people who just “praised” you for your ability to lead are then the first ones who will criticize you when a mistake is made. Praise and appreciation feel good at the moment, but words can be fleeting. A leader shouldn’t determine their worth in this world by how many people praise them or how many accolades they receive, but by how many lives they have changed for the better.