40 Leadership Lessons from the Freedom Trail – #13

On the 31st August 2013, Lesley, my wife, and soul-mate retired after 35 years teaching in secondary schools. Two days later, as planned, we set off for a magical celebratory holiday, taking in New York, California and Oregon. Our trip became known as the ‘Freedom Trail’.

While on the Freedom Trail, I journaled every day and ended each entry with a leadership moment/lesson. Here’s another!

Front view of the MetA leader’s vision needs to be purposeful

Back in New York, our options were endless. Our earlier visit had taken in some wonderful sights, including Ground Zero and Grand Central Terminal. However, we decided today to be a little more cultural. That’s why we chose to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Known colloquially as “the Met” it is an astonishing place. The building is solid, imposing and immense. It needs to be because it is the largest art museum in the United States, and among the most visited art museums in the world.  But it is not just the largest art museum in the United States. It also houses a permanent collection of over two million works and, consequently, its scale in just breathtaking!

Located along the eastern edge of Central Park, known as Manhattan’s Museum Mile, the Met has something for all tastes. From classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, through most of the European masters to  an extensive collection of American and modern art.

Whatever your interest, you will find it covered in the Met. From musical instruments, costumes, antique weapons, and armor, to collections of African, Asian, Oceanian, Indian and Islamic art. Everywhere you look there is yet more to see.

We drifted slowly through the building, ebbing and flowing with our fancy. We spent most of the day there. It was nowhere near long enough. There is so much to see and, after a while, your feet do give out!

Time then for a cup of tea and a bun! While doing that, I sat reading about the museum and its history. I was enthralled by the vision that the founders and their successors had created. I was even more taken with their purpose – to bring art and art education to the American people. This was extraordinary thinking in April 1870 when the Met was founded.  Even more remarkable  was the vision was delivered at its first opening on Fifth Avenue in February 1872, less than two years later.

[Tweet “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. – Warren Bennis”]

Clearly, the scale of the collections outgrew that first building and today we have the imposing edifice we now see as the Met. What it symbolizes is the founders original purpose and it does that in rather spectacular fashion.

A leader’s vision can flex and change but it needs to believable, achievable and purposeful.

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