How a Leader Engages with an Adversary

A beautiful example of personal leadership practiced by Democratic representative Elijah Cummings in an exchange with President Donald Trump.

Elijah Cummings, a Democratic leader in the US Congress, passed away this week. Baltimore Sun's eulogy for Cummings recounts the one time he met with President Trump. They were both working on plans to lower drug prices when Cummings said to Trump:

Mr. President, you’re now 70-something, I’m 60-something. Very soon you and I will be dancing with the angels. The thing that you and I need to do is figure out what we can do — what present can we bring to generations unborn?

In this very pithy statement I find Cummings so beautifully expressing all 5 Pillars of the Inner Mastery, Outer Impact method I have developed and teach at Columbia and Mentora Institute.

He grounded Trump and himself in a very noble, uplifting Purpose (Pillar 1).

He hit the pause button on their debate so he could, as best possible, get both people centered, ready to operate with Wisdom (Pillar 2).

He affiliated with Trump by referring to how they will be dancing together soon, to bring in that moment between them a shared humanity I call Love (Pillar 3).

He practiced Growth (Pillar 4) by seeing the possibility for him and Trump to break away from their fractious political relationship and do good collaborative work together.

And he suggested to Trump that their true self transcended their physical differences, a beautiful way to express Self-Realization (Pillar 5).

Whether or not his politics is our politics, to this man who could practice such powerful grace and teach us all this lesson in how to bring out the best in ourselves and our adversaries, let us tip our hats. And visualize him in this moment dancing with the angels.

This article has been adapted from the original version published in the Inc Magazine.