Who am I, to Inform You?
I have struggled with writing this article. Not because I don’t believe wholeheartedly in my subject, because I do. What I have been grappling with, is my lack of political knowledge.
As I put words to paper, I challenged myself: “Who am I to write about politics? Who am I to inform my fellow citizens, on who the best candidate for mayor of this great city would be? Who am I, to pretend that I know what is best for your future?”
What I came to realize, is that I cannot know what is best for you. Only what is best for me. It is up to each individual to do their own homework, to truly know who would best represent them at the head of Hamilton’ s political roundtable, and the vision they see for their children’s children.
What I do know however, having been in the corporate world for 15 years, is the difference between an effective leader, and someone who should not be in a leadership role.
A Taste of Real Leadership
I recently had the pleasure of working under a man that motivated me like no other boss had. There are many people in this world that have inspired me through various stages of my life. From writers, musicians, teachers and visionaries like Walt Disney. In business however, I had never enjoyed being led by, or listening to someone I worked for speak, until I met a man by the name of Chris MacFarlane.
He held various corporate positions at my current place of employment, but for five or six years, in some way, shape or form, he was my boss.
Never before, had I been so inspired to be the best that I could be. Never before had I enjoyed listening to a man speak, believed in the message of a man, never before had I personally known a leader, who so many people looked up to. A person who very few had anything bad to say about, and who could bring hundreds of people that he led together as a team, the way he did. He had become the image of a true leader for me.
Chris left us a few months ago. Shock spread across the province. We had lost a leader and when many of us later gathered after hours to say goodbye to our ‘Captain’, tears were shed. Both from those he led, and from our former leader himself. From the heart, sincere, caring tears. Not of a job lost, but of the friendships he had gained in all the years he had walked these halls with us. We had all become better people, for being such a large part of one another’s lives.
Many people, many great people, have come and gone in the twelve years I have been employed for this company, but never have I seen the sadness or sense of loss, that I did the moment we were told that the one thing; the one person we believed in most, was gone.
Chris was an example of how a strong vision, passed on through an effective leader who truly cares for each and every individual they lead, can not only mean the difference between the success of a company; and it’s failure, but also the difference between a healthy and happy team. The difference between one who would do anything to help you succeed in building that vision, and one of an unhappy group of individuals who not only could care less about you, but about the company you represent, and the messages you are trying to put across.
I now know what a great leader can bring to a company, and I now know that I must, going forward, not only surround myself with this kind of leader (or even strive to be even half the leader he was myself one day), but the kind of followers; inspired, motivated, happy, positive, that a good leader creates. The kind of employee (person), they build through helping others realize the true potential he or she sees in them; even when they don’t see it in themselves.
‘Our Captain’, now has me dreaming of what this type of leader, his type of leader, could bring to a city. Imagine being inspired in this way, by the influential voices of our (your), city. I don’t know that I can truly portray through written words, what being inspired in this manner can bring to your life.
My Mayor. My Friend
I first met Mahesh Butani through a Facebook group I had started at the beginning of the summer. I didn’t know at the time that he was running for mayor, but after spending a couple of hours browsing his election site, I was sold on a vision of Hamilton I had never dreamed possible for the ‘Little Big City’.
I befriended him on the social media site, and have shared many emails, phone conversations, and a few handshakes over the course of the summer.
A lot has happened both personally and professionally for me these past few months, leaving me wondering that if Mahesh can inspire one man to achieve what I have this summer, what could his type of leadership bring to an entire city?
I believe Mahesh to be the kind of leader who could help us realize the greatness within all of us, so that the fate of our future wouldn’t rest in the hands of 16 individuals. Through his leadership, that message could be carried by the whole of this community, because the right council, will engage each and every one of us and inspire us, to create that change ourselves.
What Defines a Great Leader?
A leader is someone you can stand beside, and feel like you can be yourself. Not intimidated or left with a feeling that you are below them.
A leader is inspired by those that he leads, and motivated to be the best they can be, because those that they lead mean something to him.
A leader is just a person, voted to represent others. To convey the messages of others; not their own. A leader puts forth ideas, and asks those that he leads, what their thoughts are. He/she engages them, explains their own views, but in the end, listens to and acts on what he/she believes to be what the majority of those they lead want – not simply what they as our leader want.
A leader is someone who looks into your eyes when they speak to you. Is the first to offer their hand, the first to smile, and the first to say hello.
A leader is truly in the community – in every part of it. Cleans up garbage one minute, and attends a gala benefit the next. A leader is an every person’s person.
Mahesh was the first to announce his candidacy for mayor, and the first person who brought the upcoming elections to light for me. He knew what he wanted, what he envisioned for our city, before so many even thought of running for a council chair.
I befriended Mahesh, but he was the first one to reach out his hand.
Mr. Butani leaves me with a sense that with him as the leader of our city, we will truly and wholeheartedly, know the change that we and generations before us, have been longing for. Perhaps it is not only our city, that has longed for the kind of change that people like Mahesh represent.
To me it seems that as a whole, we do not vote for who we believe, but rather who we do not believe in. We vote for those that stand a chance to beat those we, with every part of our being, do not want to hold office. However, if we all voted for who we truly believed would be the best leader for our city, perhaps then, the best candidate would stand a chance at winning.
How often have we heard in the past few weeks, who the number one, two, and three front runners were? How many of us will vote for one of them, simply because we do not want one of the other two to win, or because for the most part, they are the only names we recognize?
Do we feel that Fred was an exceptional mayor, or that he simply wasn’t a bad one? Are we happy with how Larry led our city during his mayoral run, or was there a valid reason we voted Fred to replace him? Is Bob your choice because he is a familiar voice, or do you really think he can take our city to new heights; into the 21st century and into the future that we want for our children and grandchildren?
I believe that Mahesh Butani has what it takes to be not just a great mayor, but a leader that will change our view of politics. I believe he has what it takes to not just lead, but inspire.
I want a leader who gives me a sense that he or she is listening to each and every one of us, and who has seen enough of the world to know what could work really well for our city, and what wouldn’t.
A mayor is only one vote during important decisions in our city, but I believe a good leader can have more influence on the other 15 votes around the table, if they can truly bring them together to form a team; instead of 15 very different opinions on how each believe our city should be run.
If a leader is not respected by us or those that share the round table with them, then our city will reflect the dysfunctional office that we elect.
I want change, and Mr. Butani represents the change that I want for my family – for my city. For my Canada for all intensive purposes because healthy cities, can only have a rippling effect of places across this great nation inspired by one another, instead of laughing at their follies, or looking at one another as examples of how not to do things.
The Power of Engagement
I like to be inspired. I like to be engaged. I like to know that I matter not only at election time, but for the entire term our elected officials will hold office. As some friendships do, hopefully even for years beyond those they hold their elected chairs.
I have lived here for 34 of my 37 years. I have always voted come election time, but I have never been engaged in politics like I have been this past summer. I owe this engagement in part, to Mr. Butani. He was my encouragement to fight for what I believed in.
If Mr. Butani can inspire one quiet, reserved artist, to speak at city council three times over the course of the summer, build a website, and put himself out there for the world to criticize and laugh at and tell him he is crazy and dense for fighting for something, yet feel confident enough in himself and in his belief in what he is fighting for to stand up to the naysayers’, what could such a leader bring to an entire city?
We have had the same type of mayor more or less, for a very long time. Different faces. Different strengths and weaknesses. I would like to see what a different kind of leader could bring to our city.
Don’t Wait For Great Things to Happen
I am a believer that we mustn’t wait for great things to happen. We must create opportunities ourselves, but it’s hard to create opportunities with poor leadership. Not impossible, but pulling is a lot easier than pushing.
We have the tools, talent, creativity, and resources available to us in Hamilton, to be world leaders. From our beautiful bay and many other green spaces within our community, our history, a City of Waterfalls, a thriving arts community, and a beautiful escarpment that surrounds us like Hollywood bowl; without the ring of smog that circles that Californian city.
Hamilton is a beautiful city. More beautiful than I think many of us actually realize.
We could be great.
We can wait for something to happen by continuing to vote for more or less the same type of mayor, or we can create that change ourselves, by electing a truly new voice.
This is Our Opportunity For Change
We have an opportunity for change before us. For a different voice. A different vision. A very different city. A city of the future, but that face of change is not one of the three we read about in the main stream media each and every day, or hear about on the 6 o’clock news like they are the only three running for office.
In my opinion anyway.
That voice exists within a man not afraid to stand up to any and all media outlets in our city. Not afraid to stand toe-to-toe and challenge the three front-runners. Not afraid of what voters might think of him. Not changing focus mid-campaign to please the voting populous. He is confident in his vision for the future of our city.
From the moment I first visited Mahesh’s very in-depth website, I was left dreaming of what the city he envisioned, would be like to live in. I was excited from that first time I browsed his site all those months ago, at the thought of a mayor we could look over to; not up to. Someone who could quite possibly change our views of politics, and engage the citizens of this great city like we have never been before. A mayor who could not only make us believe in our city, but in our own abilities to be an important part of that change.
Mahesh is only one person; one vote, but the right mayor will have the ability to make that one vote truly speak for the community as a whole, and not reflect the voice of big business or the vision of 16 individuals.
The Day is Fast Approaching
Election day is only a few days away. I don’t want you to take my word for who would be the best leader of your city. That decision is something you need to search your own heart for. All that I ask is that you spend some time looking through Mr. Butani’s website, and to take a look at the Raise the Hammer website to see how he answered questions raised to him about some of the major issues facing our city.
I believe this to be one of the most important elections facing our city in a very long time. Hamilton has the ability to be a city that lives up to the moniker ‘A Great Place to Raise a Family.’ The question is, who is the voice that can truly make Hamilton that place?
I believe that voice, is in the humble spirit of a man named Mahesh P. Butani.