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Leaders are Light Houses

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

G. Balasubramanian | Chairperson, Board of Advisors, ICSL | Editor-in-Chief, The Progressive School


I was reading a small humorous anecdote from the book “Everyday Greatness” compiled by David K. Hatch and commented by Stephen R. Covey. Though it is on a lighter vein it has a strong message to give. The anecdote is quoted as under: (appeared in Dec 1983 edition of Reader’s Digest)


“One foggy night at sea the captain of a ship saw what looked like the lights of another ship heading towards him. He had his signal man contact the other ship by light. The message was “Change your course by ten degrees to the north.” The reply came back “Change your course to ten degrees north.”
Then the captain answered “I am a captain, so you change your course ten degrees to the north.”
Reply: “I am a seaman first class, change your course ten degrees to the north.”
The last exchange really infuriated the captain, so he signaled back “I am a battleship…change your course ten degrees to the north.”
Reply: “And I am a lighthouse. Change your course by ten degrees north.” (Contributed by Den Bell)

Though it is in lighter vein, the message is implied and strong. Whatever be the size or the nature of the vessel, the lighthouse is not going to change its course. It is for the ship to change the course.


Leaders are like lighthouses. They stand for a principle, a value, a cause and an objective. Principles and values are timeless and do not change. They illumine the minds and hearts of others who seek a direction.


Principles don’t get moderated for political, economic, cultural or other reasons. Leaders need to hold on to them.

Buddha lived for the principle of Love. Mahavira lived for the principle of victory over self. Gandhi lived for the principle of Ahimsa.


We may not be such great persons to institutionalize principles. But, can we stop for a minute and introspect whether do we have any one principle in our lives for which we can stand for? If yes, I think there is some meaning in our lives.


In his poem “Song of the flower” Kahlil Gibran speaks through the voice of a tender flower:


“But I look up to see only the light,
And never look down to see my shadow,
This is wisdom which man must learn.”

Have you ever felt that we have many things to learn from Mother Nature?