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Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Yesterday was the day we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr; the only non-president given a national holiday in his honor. Largely considered to be the leader of the Civil Rights Movement and known for his commitment to service, he was, and continues to be, a beacon for many.

His messages about the power of love are what speak most powerfully to me, and a few of the quotes attributed to him have served as benchmarks for my own path through this world, including these:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

He was led by love, and from that vantage point accomplished extraordinary things. He loved when it was so much easier to hate—when so many others were overtly encouraging him to hate.

I find it fascinating that love is considered by some to be weak. A softness rather than a strength. Love is associated with Valentine’s Day candy and red roses. Love is at the center of many a novella, often ending in melodramatic heartbreak. Love is relegated to romantic relationships. Love is a side note to the more “important” strengths that move us forward.  I guess it's no wonder, when "love" is portrayed in the media by a bachelor on tv choosing his wife-to-be while watching them compete in bikinis and a tractor race to try to win the coveted ring.

But as Dr. King showed us, love, in its purest form, is actually fierce. Love can be our most powerful weapon. Sure, "love is patient, and love is kind"- but love is also bada$$; love breaks down walls.  We’ve seen this example in other famous historical leaders, too, whether it be Mother Teresa or Ghandi. We’ve seen it in our favorite public figures, like Oprah or Kid President. It shows up in our favorite characters from literature like Atticus Finch or Albus Dumbledore.

Think of someone that has inspired you, whether it be a public figure or someone in your personal life. How has love influenced their actions? How does love inform your own actions?   I don't know about you, but I know this for sure for me:  when i let love guide my conversations, my actions, my decisions, my view of the world-- when I make that choice, my power grows.  My connections grow.   Doors open.  Life happens there.

How can you lead with fierce love today? 



Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at erika@tlpnyc.com.   Find all her previous blog posts at www.tlpnyc.com/author/erika


Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.