July 24, 2004 *  Casa Marinero, Intramuros, Manila


DG Joel Tinitigan


This is such a beautiful day! Your looks, your smiles – the happiness on your faces – paint the mood and rhythm of the day. It reminds me of the words of an unknown author: “Every occasion has a meaning from which wise men derive parallels and lessons to live by.”

Today, inspired by this beautiful and meaningful occasion, I am tempted to start my talk with a parallelism.

Each morning, the sun rises to announce the beginning of the day. Somehow it smiles to bring hope that the day  will  be  bright  and  wonderful. Then during the hours that follow, we work ourselves to the bones in search of our dreams. At the end of the day, we ask ourselves:  “Have our day been fruitful and rewarding? Have we worked enough to realize our dreams?”

Every start of Rotary year is like the morning of the day. It announces the beginning of a new leadership. Like the smiling sun, it comes with a kind of spectacle that brings hope for a bright new year of achievements. Then, during the months that follow we tread the path we set to attain the dreams we seek. At the end of the year, we ask ourselves:  “Have our year been truly fruitful and rewarding? Have we done enough to attain success? Have we given the best of ourselves to the task of leadership? Have we led with wisdom? Have we led with motivation? Have we led by example?”

These are the questions we often ask to test our leadership. But today, I shall add one important question that we must ask ourselves: “Have we led with a heart? Yes, have we led with a heart?”

No one perhaps has ever asked the question. I must say that to many, it is something new. For, how do you lead with a heart? Or, why should you lead with a heart?

To answer the question, let me begin with “love,” for love is the expression of the heart. One’s love for another is never expressed in the words:  “I love you with all my mind.” It doesn’t sound right, does it? Neither is it beautiful; nor is it appealing. This is why we always say,  “I love you with all my heart.” Even if it defies reason, for science tells us that it is the brain – not the heart - that dictates the feeling, we find it more beautiful and touching to point to the heart as the source of that feeling. Perhaps it is because it is the heart that gives life to the body, or beats faster when one is in love, thereby lending credence to the feeling. If it is the heart that gives life to the body, it must be a true feeling when you say,  “I love you with all my heart.”

That is one compelling reason, every leader should  “lead with a heart.” But doesn’t it sound too feminine when you say, “Lead with a heart?” To answer the question, let me recall an episode in the life of one great leader, Alexander the Great.

Alexander was a great leader, one who enjoyed the respect and following of his men. A man of ordinary height, he had the extraordinary courage and determination and the kind of leadership that made him conquer most parts of the world known to man in his time.

In one of his campaigns, he and his army found themselves in the desert with nothing to drink but one canteen of water, which was handed to him by a soldier.

As he slowly opened the container, he saw the thirst in his men’s eyes and the longing to taste evenjust a drop of the water. Empathizing with them, he lifted the container and poured its contents on the sand. He couldn’t drink the water and let his men die of thirst. He had a heart that bled for his men.

Leading with a heart is as true today as in the time of Alexander the Great. We cannot lead with wisdom alone - or courage and commitment. We must also lead with a heart that oozes with love and compassion. A leader must be sensitive to the needs of the members of the organization. A leader must be willing to bend a little to be able to reach out to the members. His or her heart must be willing to understand, to forgive, to open another door of opportunity to any member who falters because of weakness. After all, one of the greatest challenges of a leader is turning weaknesses into strengths to build a strong organization. 

Leading with a heart gives the leader an admirable sense of sincerity and an aura of goodness and confidence. It therefore inspires trust, loyalty and following from the rest of the organization. 

Today, as you begin your year of new challenges, let me close with the words of a wise man:  “Leadership is a test of manhood, of wisdom, and of the will to create ways to achieve goals. But the final test of leadership is winning hearts and minds to share the same dreams and attain them.”  

My friends remember those words, for they will lead you to where you want to be when your year is over. Always remember to lead with wisdom, lead by example and lead with a heart. Let wisdom be your constant guide . . . but always look to your heart. 

                Thank you very much. I look forward to working with you all as we celebrate A Century of Service and A New Century of Success. And most of all, let’s CELEBRATE ROTARY!