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When I was in my early teens, I read a lot of books. One of the books that I read was Gandhi’s autobiography. A quote from that book hit me all of those years ago and has remained a guiding principle for my life: “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” It made so much sense as a teenager as I felt a lot of people talked but didn’t live by their words. What an utter test of authenticity!

I am in China and had a day off from work so spent an hour climbing around on the Great Wall and then, returned to Beijing to wander around the Forbidden City. How can one possibly absorb the amazing history and phenomenal achievements of the Chinese culture in one day? Well one can’t, but you sure can be amazed and enthralled.

Scenes from the movie The Last Emperor flickered through my mind as I wandered through this huge complex. It was crowded with lots of people craning to look in at the amazing scenes behind glass kept as historical reminders of a history that did not benefit most of the people.

I rounded a corner and looked up and saw this extremely tall man in the garb of a Buddhist monk. His robe was smooth and looked like silk. I was amazed at his height. As I looked up at him, he was initially looking in another direction, but he obviously felt my gaze amongst the hordes of people walking around. I must have said a psychic hey or something as he turned and looked at me. Our eyes met and he tipped his head in the gentlest way and smiled a smile that melted my soul.

As I sit here in my hotel restaurant reflecting on this moment, I realize that this is a simple example of Gandhi’s words…”Be the change you want to see in the world.” No words were exchanged. None were needed. The peaceful countenance of this gentle soul will stay with me for a very long time. Now that’s leadership.

Written by Sherri Malouf
President of Situation Management Systems, Inc.