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Honoring MLK

January 28, 2020

At ADDO, we don’t take off every federal holiday, but we do take off Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

This year I thought it was important to tell our team why we prioritize taking this day off. We don’t just use the day to get an extra long weekend in January—although that’s always a good thing. This day, however, we intentionally celebrate a man whose life’s work is directly related to the heart-beat of ADDO’s vision—to inspire leaders today to impact tomorrow. 

Martin Luther King Jr. lived out three characteristics that we believe are essential to leaving a lasting impact: servant leadership, inspiring communication, and action.

1. Servant Leadership

Servant leaders are servants first. They lead out of a desire to meet the needs of others. And this is exactly how MLK worked as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. He labored to make the world a better place for all people by fighting against the horrors of racism and segregation. He used his unique gifts and passion to serve his generation and all of us who will come after him.

At ADDO we want to equip, empower, and celebrate servant leaders, and MLK’s life and work is inarguably worth celebrating.

2. Inspiring Communication

If you’ve never watched MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech or read his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, stop reading this blog and click on one of these links. One of the key reasons for MLK’s effectiveness was his communication ability. I have come to understand that communication is an essential piece of leadership. 

The 38th president of the United States, Gerald Ford, once said,

“If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.”

Harvard Business Review said that communication is the number one quality for someone to get promoted at work.

King had a unique gift for writing and speaking. He painted vivid images and crafted sentences that will be repeated for years and decades to come. 

3. Action

At ADDO, we say that leadership is influence that leads to action. MLK moved people to action. In MLK’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, he appeals to a group of clergymen in the Birmingham area who had criticized him for his boldness in nonviolent direct action (things like sit-ins, protests, and marches). They wanted him to “pull the reins,” to step back, and to simply wait for an opportunity to negotiate. But King knew the problem with waiting. Without direct action, they would never be given an opportunity to negotiate. He knew he needed to act to bring the problem to light. In his letter, he uses the word “act” 23 times to prove his point.

At ADDO, we’re grateful for MLK’s life and work. We hope that the work we’re doing will inspire others to continue to make the world a better place.


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