Want extraordinary influence? Take take these lessons from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Heart

Get five powerful lessons in leadership that everyone should know

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BY Melissa Dawn Simkins - 17 Jan 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an man who stood for justice in a time of extraordinary opposition. Today, it's easy to listen to his speeches, read his writings and talk about his life with awe. It's hard to lead like him and live up to the ideals he died for. Dr. King's life and legacy shaped history with massive, global impact. Yet, he didn't leave us without a blueprint for how we can be exceptional leaders too.

You can have uncommon impact no matter your industry, career or cause. Here are five powerful lessons to create extraordinary influence and memorable impact taken from the praiseworthy "I Have A Dream" speech.

1. Understand the "fierce urgency of now"

Dr. King realized the importance and the urgency of the Civil Rights Movement. He also understood the cultural clock of America was ticking. The nation was in a state of unrest. Racial injustice demanded action. He was not content to talk about ideas, he became a solution. What needs your urgent attention? How are you listening to what is going on in the world around you to enforce action. Being lax is a luxury you can't afford. Possibly it means going after a new client, launching your business or writing a book. No matter what, have an instinct for action.

2. Speak up for the voiceless

He understood a microphone was an opportunity to speak up for those who did not have access or exposure. Dr. King spoke up for injustice everywhere and used his platform to expose the darkness of injustice happening in places all around the country. His audience trusted him to give voice to their cares, concerns, hopes and dreams. How well do you know your audience? Are you in touch with their deepest fears, desires and dreams? Once you have committed to serve them and have proven you are vested in their success; then you will be trusted with the opportunity to speak for them.

3. Take the high plane in the face of your haters

In the face of hostility and death, Dr. King challenges blacks and whites to come together in peace. He called out racial injustice and he challenged black Americans to "conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline". Everyone won't love you or your idea. In fact, some would love to destroy what you have worked so hard to build. Know haters exist but commit to take the high ground. What will you do in the face of opposition? Prepare for the moment now because it is not if it will happen but when.

4. Never be satisfied with status quo

Dr. King demonstrated and unrelenting commitment to change. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," he declared. Where are you compromising excellence for comfort? Will you challenge yourself to move beyond average? Be comfortable being uncomfortable. What you did last year, last quarter or last week is insignificant to where you are going. The greatest enemy to your future accomplishment is your past success.

5. Be willing to die for what you believe

Now, this lesson is a very hard pillow to swallow. Many people want extraordinary influence, fame and wealth but don't want to pay the price. Rev. Dr. King had a purpose he was willing to die for. His speech, "I Have A Dream" only gives us a glimpse into the life he lived and the drive that kept him going despite the odds. The "I Have A Dream" speech was not the sum of his life, it was a view into a life lived with an uncompromising focus on a mission. In fact, his vision was so convincing that even in 1963, Dr. King saw a world where racism no longer exists at the height of tension and racial conflict. Now, 40 years later, we have yet to completely achieve his dream. How committed are you to your vision? Are you willing to risk it all? It's time to find something you believe in so deeply that you will commit your life to it.

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