“If your actions inspire others to dream
more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams

This is a truly interesting definition of “leader.” From Adams’ point of view, deciding whether someone is a
leader is based on analyzing his actions. The definition doesn’t
preclude using other criteria or approaches; but those included in the
definition are sufficient to identify a leader, according to Adams.

To find a leader using Adams’
definition, qualities such as charisma, personality, intelligence, compassion,
decisiveness, or similar traits are not relevant since only “actions” are
pertinent. Further, only actions that inspire others are of immediate interest.
This means that one can only designate someone as a leader by first identifying
at least one other person who was inspired by the actions of the person being designated.
What’s more, the person needs to have been inspired “to dream more, learn more,
do more and become more.”

Setting aside the problem with being sure what “dream more” and
“become more” actually mean and how one can identify these events
in other people, both have to be present, along with “learn more” and “do
more.” The point is that all four outcomes need to be present and attributable,
through inspiration, to the actions of the person being designated as a leader.

The task now is to identify leaders. It doesn’t seem appropriate
to include parents or other close relatives since they already have a special
designation and classifying them as “leaders” tends to trivialize their roles
and status. The same point may also hold for teachers and other personal
mentors. Given those exclusions, identify actions of others that have inspired
you to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. Make a list, with the
action on the left and the inspirational person’s name on the right. Keep in mind
that the action needs to have inspired you to dream, learn, do, and become.
When you finish your personal list, make another list including actions that
have inspired people you know to dream, learn, do, and become. Combining the
two lists gives you your “leaders I know about” list.

When using the suggested list making procedure, it seems likely
that most people would be personally aware of very few leaders, using Adams’ definition. Now repeat the list making procedure,
only including actions that are currently inspiring you or others to dream
today, learn today, do today, and become today. Do you have a leader in your
life today? Most people probably don’t, at least not one who is alive and
working in their town.