Mariner Kemper, chairman, president and CEO of UMB Financial Corporation, shares his thoughts on how our nation’s heroes inspire a spirit of service and influence other leaders.
Some of you may know how much I love the show Band of Brothers. The series touches on so many important themes—discipline, leadership, respect and the fragility of freedom to name a few. I just finished watching it for the umpteenth time, and as always, it’s caused me to more deeply consider some of these tenets, particularly as we’re approaching Veterans Day.
A few years ago, I shared thoughts regarding some of what we’re losing with our World War II veterans passing on. For decades we’ve had these amazing people who not only actively served in the military during that life-altering time, but then have also served as living reminders of what U.S. veterans have and continue to do for all of us to ensure the freedoms we so freely enjoy.
As I step back and consider where the world is today, my hope is that none of us forget or fail to recognize how fortunate we are to be free and alive—and to live where we do. While there is certainly an abundance of good, there is also hatred and a lack of understanding and respect among many regarding how fragile freedom really is.
We see this coming to life in other parts of the world, but for those of us not actively serving or know those doing so, we are watching from afar and may feel untouchable. Let’s not forget, just because these places aren’t in our backyard, the embers of conflict are all around us.
While we are not all in a position to directly help those on the front lines, we can all make a commitment to being mindful and compassionate leaders and positively contributing to our own environments and the people around us.
This is a time for all of us to stop and intentionally and truly see each other and what’s going on around us, and push to be the best versions of ourselves for the good of all. We can’t, and shouldn’t, rely on just our veterans to help carry some of these leadership messages forward.
Leadership isn’t about your status, title or place in society. It’s about your desire and ability to hold things together, to raise people up and to make things better even if it’s not your “job.” It’s all our responsibilities to lead and care for each other. That spirit of service to each other should always be present—not just when there’s conflict.
My challenge to all of us is to not just acknowledge that spirit of service, but to empower and activate it. Be that inspirational, positive person who genuinely sees and helps others. Be the one who lifts up and supports those around us. Be the person you want others to be, because you will make a difference. Whether it’s in your personal or professional life, there are plenty of opportunities, and those actions—big and small—make a significant impact.
In closing, I’d like to thank all our veterans for being true leaders and the ultimate service example.
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