CBC commentator shares vision of leadership with students

By Georgia Black
Bishop's College
St. John's, Newfoundland

Rex Murphy has some simple advice for students who want to be leaders -- believe strongly in your ideas and communicate that passion to other people's minds and hearts.

Murphy, a commentator and reporter for "The National" and the host of CBC Radio's "Cross-Country Checkup", was a keynote speaker at the Newfoundland and Labrador Student Leadership Conference, held at Booth Memorial High School, St. John's from October 22-24.

He commenced his speech by talking about a major leader here in Newfoundland, Joseph R. Smallwood, the father of Confederation. Smallwood did not become a political force until he decided to start a campaign to make Newfoundland the tenth province of Canada and save its people from the extreme hardship they'd endured in the past. Once he had an idea, he became a leader.

CBC commentator Rex Murphy addresses a student leadership confrence
Clip 1 -"When an Idea..."

That's the fundamental basic principal of leadership, said Murphy. All you need is have an idea, be passionate about it and want to move people towards your idea. Murphy defined leadership as "the transaction between human beings at the deepest level of sheer emotion."

Murphy urged the students to see leadership as something that is neither bad nor good -- but it is simply a capacity that can veer in one direction or another.

"A strong human being has the ability to save a person drowning in water but also has the same ability to throw someone over a roof," said Murphy.

He pointed out that there has been more pain, more suffering, more torture and more death in this century than ever before and it's partly due to leaders like Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

Murphy noted that leadership does not happen only in the political world. It is an everyday happening when a man or a woman becomes a guide in human relations. These people help to reduce pain and suffering and increase the sheer comfort level of others.

He then pointed out that we are all leaders amongst our friends and family, which caused a low murmur around the hall.

Murphy believes that you must be familiar with your own history and with the nature of the place in which you live to be able to move forward.

"It is no good having an idea of what you want things to be, unless you understand the context in which you already live," he told the students.


Murphy stresses that leadership can happen in everyday life
Clip2 - "You don't have to concieve
of leadership..."

He gave as an example the case of Martin Luther King, who educated himself on the topic of civil rights and earned himself the attention and respect of almost everyone who heard him speak.

Murphy places emphasis on
education in leadership
Clip 3 - "To lead it is necessary
to know..."

A standing ovation at the conclusion
of Murphy's talk

But Murphy mentioned that a good leader must also be able to separate him or herself from a crowd. To be a leader you must have courage and an independent mind, a mind that thinks solely for itself.

"It's extremely easy to disagree with your enemies. The ability to disagree with your friends requires a much greater moral force," he noted.

Murphy ended his well-appreciated speech telling the students that it all basically boiled down to them and their individual characters, personalities and minds. He was recognized by a standing ovation and a hall full of Newfoundland cheers.



 Back to News