Ninoy A 01Lessons From Ninoy Aquino

Today, the Filipino people remembers the 30th death anniversary of a very rare leader, Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

Mr Aquino, or Ninoy as the Filipinos would call him, was assassinated back in Aug 21, 1983. As I was watching a documentary about Ninoy’s life (and his death) last night, I realized one key ingredient of a leader.

I realized that not anyone can be a leader who is able to live a legacy to his followers, and one whom his people will consider who have lived a life of significance. It will require one important thing….


Chinkee Tan, in one of his seminars once said:

“Nobody becomes successful without first experiencing failure.”

I did not understand this at first. He said that a person needs a very high Adversity Quotient (AQ) in order for him to succeed. He must have a very high ability to face adversity and not back down.

After watching Ninoy’s story I understood perfectly. Ninoy faced many adversities, even early on, in his life. He was humiliated, accused, imprisoned, physically hurt, exiled and eventually killed. The very important thing in a leaders life in order for him to have significance is the ability to undergo and accept suffering to achieve significance.

My mentor and friend, Jayson Lo said that,

“Significant people must be successful, but not all successful people have significance…”

Nowadays we see lots of charismatic leaders who have followers in the tens of thousands. But after they die, their life ends. Literally and figuratively. Ninoy Aquino’s life is still celebrated until today, because he lived a life not for his comfort, but for something he strongly believed in. I noticed a similar pattern: Jose Rizal; Jesus Christ. All of them, at some point in their lives, were given a choice to back down from a mission they know they were made for. But these men, chose the harder path, that eventually would lead to their deaths. A death that did not end what they lived for, but a death that started something even bigger than themselves- a mission, a cause, a belief that they have willingly lived and died for.

Fast forward to today, are leaders still willing to die for what they believe in? Let alone, leave their comforts to fight for it?

How about us? Are we thinking only about how comfortable our mere 80 to 90 years of existence will be? Have you found a worthy cause to throw your life to, or are we stuck with accumulating wealth? When did you last dream for significance?

Ninoy found his- the Filipino people.

Jesus found His- to die for his enemies, that is you and me, so that we may be reconciled back to Him.

Leaders need to find something bigger than themselves that is worth living and worth dying for. This is what Ninoy’s story taught me.

“If it’s my fate to die by an assassin’s bullet, so be it. But I cannot be petrified by inaction or fear of assasination and therefore stay in a corner. I have to suffer with my people.” – Ninoy Aquino on an interview the day he died.

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