This past weekend we were blessed to have two stunning examples of what leadership really means. In this day and time, boy do we need them. 

The first of these was impossible to miss. The passing of Senator John McCain dominated the news over the weekend, as well it should. McCain, whom many called the last lion of the Senate, was courageous throughout his life, but perhaps never so poignantly as when he faced and ultimately lost the last great battle of his life with the brain cancer that claimed him. But even in death McCain triumphed, as heroes often do. He was able to demonstrate his passion for his country, his love of family and friends, his commitment to principle, even as he faced his final days.

There are so many lessons that McCain provided it is hard to know where to begin or how to summarize them. I am struck by a few things in watching the coverage. One of the most vivid is remembering how he gently but firmly corrected one of his supporters at a campaign rally during the 2008 presidential race when she disparaged and labeled Barrack Obama, McCain’s opponent. McCain quickly stated that she was mistaken and that though he might disagree with Obama on policy, he was a good and decent man. The contrast to the current images from more recent political rallies was stunning. The fact that McCain invited both Obama and George W. Bush—men with whom he had many disagreements—to eulogize him speaks volumes about his character.

Another lesson in leadership, one that may have been missed, was also on display this weekend in the example of Gerald Oda, the manager of the Honolulu Little League World Series team that defeated South Korea to win the world championship. Oda was a brilliant baseball coach whose team went undefeated and allowed only three runs in an incredible string of five victories over the best Little League teams in the world. But it wasn’t baseball prowess that impressed me the most about Oda and his team’s performance. It was the character on display.

Oda’s first words to his winning team as they celebrated their victory were: “Enjoy the moment. But stay humble.” This wasn’t a one-off comment. It was Oda’s constant theme throughout the series. He went out of his way to recognize the team’s opponents in every game. He complimented opposing players for good plays. He encouraged his players to do the same. And guess what? They did. It was not unusual to see one of the Hawaiian players tip his cap to an opponent, even when that opponent had just tagged him out with a great play.

Oda was present on the field and off, emphasizing to his players that win or lose they should relish the moment, and as he said so often, “Enjoy this great day.”

Both McCain and Oda were fierce competitors who knew how to win. But they were also gentle people who knew how to accept loss graciously and how to be bigger than the game, be it politics or baseball. As we watch other leaders foster divisiveness and conflict, it is more than refreshing, it is inspiring to see heroes like Oda and McCain stand up for principle, character, and humility in the way they live their lives and set the example for generations to come.