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Success Secrets of 9 Top Leaders

(page 5 of 10)

Judge Thomas Kaulukukui

 
Over the past four decades, First Circuit Court Judge Thomas Kaulukukui has served in more leadership capacities than most folks could ever dream of. He was a paratrooper in the Vietnam War, serving as an airborne platoon sergeant, a physical education teacher at Kailua High School, a wrestling coach, an English teacher, a legal clerk, a business-law attorney, a trial judge and vice president for The Queen’s Health System. For the past six years, he has also been serving as the chairman of the board for the Queen Liliuokalani Trust.

Through it all, Kaulukukui says there has been one guiding principle that has helped steer him through every challenge: truth is unchangeable.

“You have to be clear on your values and ethics,” he says. “You need to create a code of conduct and actually live by it before you can even think about calling yourself a leader.”

To Kaulukukui, leadership can be defined in one word: influence. It’s about doing the right thing, the right way, at the right time; leading through service; and teaching others to lead as well, Kaulukukui says.

“You can’t do any of that if you don’t know who you are and what you stand for,” he adds.

Part of being true to oneself is not being ashamed to ask for help, Kaulukukui says. “At one point or another, everybody needs help; there’s no shame in that. What is shame is not asking for help and then failing because of it. Sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up and think about the long term.”

As a struggling law student in the early ’70s, Kaulukukui faced that reality when he was forced to apply for welfare to help support his young family.

“I had mouths to feed and we were poor,” he says. “But the second I could afford it, I got off. I think I might have been the only person in the history of government assistance who still qualified for food stamps but turned it down,” he jokes.

Kaulukukui says it was that help that allowed him to follow his dreams and realize his own leadership potential. Now, he says, it’s his time to return the favor.

“It’s always been my goal to inspire others to aspire,” he says. “I think people in leadership positions have a responsibility to extend their hands so that others can grow and succeed, too. To me, it’s all just one big cycle.”

– SE

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Dec 30, 2008 09:58 am
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