Beethoven’s Advice for Leaders

“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” —Ludwig Van Beethoven

Would you consider Beethoven a leader? He was a leader in very many ways and continues to lead centuries after he wrote his last symphony. This quote is just an example of his leadership in thought with a few key things I feel apply to the few of us who do not consider ourselves nor aspire to be artists.

First, art. What is art and how do we practice it? Currently, I am not practicing a musical instrument, and I do not paint or draw any sort of pictures. I am not currently writing a book, nor would I call myself a gourmet chef. On a day to day basis, I get to observe and practice leadership skills. Leadership is an art. Art is something we create, whether it is a picture, or inspiring others towards a common goal. When you reread Beethoven’s quote thinking about leadership, it opens a new dimension of thinking about your day to day interactions with those you lead.

Next, secrets. Many would argue there are no secrets to leadership. Each time I listen to Major General David Rubenstein speak at various healthcare events, he always asks, “if you were to search ‘leadership’ on, how many results would there be?” Last I checked, there were over 75,000 The question is what are the secrets of leadership. When I was a child, I always felt left out when my friends knew something that I did not, or they had secrets. A secret is not something no one knows, but it is something everyone, except you, knows. There are hundreds of examples of leaders in books, magazines, and right around us. Get to know them, and learn the secrets they have. Once we learn a new leadership principle, it is no longer secret, so we move on to learn another, always progressing.

Finally, divine. As you may notice, I believe in God. I believe He is the ultimate leader and is the perfect example. As we learn the secrets of leadership, we will be enlightened along the way, but more importantly, we will become better. Whether you believe in God or not, you will become better. Anyone who is yearning for those secrets will find them, and as they incorporate them into their practice they will come closer to those leaders we all want to emulate, including God. What are your thoughts on this quote? What are your leadership secrets you would share with the world?