The great Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” In recent times, this opinion has come near to extinction. To say the least, it has become outdated and replaced with a love of bloodthirsty violence. Our culture today is obsessed with inflicting pain. Clearly, we still live with the philosophy of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. How I wish this was the best way to resolve our differences! If you are going to lead yourself well, you MUST master your emotions. The importance of this point cannot be overemphasized especially if you are leading others.
Now, let it slide when someone pushes you to it doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you can’t fight. It actually means that you are strong enough not to play by your opponent’s rules of the game. In my opinion, I think it is a great strength that deserves applause. So, the following are some reasons why letting it slide is often times the best option.
It’s not worth what you will lose
If you are a Shakespeare Aficionado like me, I am pretty sure you have come across the screenplay called Hamlet. It was about a Prince of Denmark called Hamlet, who had lost his father and the throne to his uncle, Claudius. Claudius had killed Hamlet’s father and married his mother. A move that Hamlet calculated as an act of disloyalty. Inspired by the ghost of his father, Hamlet sought to avenge his father’s death by killing his uncle. He once had the opportunity to do so but he reconsidered it because at that time, his uncle was praying and he didn’t want to kill then, lest he goes to heaven. This shows you the utter disdain he had for his uncle. To cut the long story short, the play ends with both Hamlet and his uncle dead. In a sense, he got what he wanted but the price he paid was great. Often times, taking revenge is motivated by emotions. Most people would hardly confess that they have anything to gain beyond the emotional satisfaction of seeing the person they despise in anguish, which is really petty if you think about it… For Hamlet, I can understand his thirst for revenge but for your particular circumstance, I bet there’s little benefit taking revenge can afford you. Unless you are willing to tell me that your storyline is as messed up as Hamlet’s or worse. So, just take the emotions out of the issue and ask yourself, ‘Apart from feeling good, what will I possibly gain from this?’ If you find that its only emotional satisfaction alone, chances are that you were better off not doing anything.
Letting slide reinforces your self-respect
Now, I often talk about self-leadership and self-development but I don’t think I have ever mentioned self-respect before. Self-respect entails the level of respect that you have for yourself. You find that great leaders and other people of great stature have a high level of self-respect and this reflects in the way they treat others. Look, if a person knows who they are and how they should be treated, they will oppose anyone who thinks of them in another way. They will refuse to stoop to the level that someone else wants them to get on. Think about this scenario, one day you go to the mall to buy yourself a nice book from a book store. Now, on your way, you see a mad person, (I mean this person is literally insane!) attempting to rape a young girl. You have two options either you go ahead and help her out or just walk by like you haven’t seen anything. If you intervene, you will be praised as a hero but if you just let it go, society would look at you as a cruel and selfish Human Being. It’s the same scenario when someone wrongs you. If you just go ahead and attack them or seek revenge, you are playing their game and falling right into their trap. Your self-respect, just like the little girl, will have no one to defend it. So, it’s not a battle of whose ego is the biggest, it’s a battle of whose character will prevail. Once you protect your character, you will be your own hero and ultimately you will praise yourself for showing restraint. If you take revenge, however, you would acknowledge that you are already beaten.
It’s not worth the drama
I hate to say this but Human Beings are the most dramatic creatures that the known-universe has ever seen. Even from ancient times, you find countless incidents of unwarranted drama that could have been resolved but simply not doing anything. Let’s take the story of Alexander the Great as an example. For you who may not know him, Alexander the Great, (I know, it’s a terrible name) was a Greek conqueror who had conquered the known world in his time. It was actually recorded that after he was done with his conquests, he wept and cried saying, ’There are no more worlds to conquer’ and shortly died a while after that. Alexander had a friend who he was close to. But after drinking too much and following an argument with his buddy, he ordered his execution. The following day he asked how his best friend came to die and the guards answered him, ‘You ordered his execution yesterday, my lord.’ Poor Alexander mourned for his friend and his actions were said to have haunted him until his death. The moral of the story here is that this kind of drama could have been avoided by simply not doing anything. Remember that your emotions will not always be with you. Today is simply a remnant of yesterday and a shell of what tomorrow will bring. It is wise to keep all drama out of your life. Trust me, it’s poison.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a classic that I would recommend anyone aspiring to lead others and themselves to read. Sun Tzu was a Chinese General who had compiled his thoughts on warfare into a single document. He saw that the study of warfare is essential in obtaining victory for any General. Although the book was written in China over 2,000 years ago, its timeless principles of leading soldiers into battle and understanding the psyche of opponents are still relevant today. In my study of leadership and self-development, I found the principles in this book to be extremely instrumental in leading oneself and also others.
There are thirteen chapters in the book but for the purposes of this post, we will only analyze the first chapter which is called Estimates…
So, let us begin:
The Importance of Self- Leadership
Sun Tzu started the chapter off by saying “War is a matter of vital importance to the State; the province of life or death; the road to survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be thoroughly studied.” When I read this statement the first thing that came to mind was the Grim Reaper. Just to fantasize a little bit, if he came into human flesh, no doubt every person you know would want to study him. Maybe just maybe, we would find a possible weakness in him and further postpone his date with us. Who knows? We might actually study him so well that we would know how to live forever. So, anyway, in the same light, the study of leadership is very much similar to what Sun Tzu was talking about. It is of vital importance that leadership be studied because it could well determine whether your children die of starvation or feel bad that they are throwing away too much food. Although the study of leadership is important at a business level, I specifically emphasize that it should be studied at an individual level too. The study of leadership is an on-going process. It neither ends in the classroom nor at the solitude of a thinking table. It is no surprise that in life, whether we like or not, we are bound to meet some ‘difficult’ people. People we absolutely don’t like very much. It might be that co-worker who always tries to belittle the work you do or it might be your boss who clearly doesn’t appreciate the effort you put in the company. Sometimes it might be a parent or a child. It doesn’t matter. The lesson on self-leadership I learned from Sun Tzu’s book is helpful in many circumstances.
1. Don’t be predictable but be adaptable
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
Water is a very interesting chemical compound. Unlike fire that is confrontational, it adapts to situations and pacifies. When it’s hot, it evaporates, when it’s cold, it condenses into ice, and when the temperature is temperate, it retains its natural position. So, don’t be predictable. It’s not that ‘difficult’ people don’t know that they are difficult, they know. That’s why they never listen even if you talk to them over and over again. They expect you to react.
The general once said, “All warfare is based on deception. Therefore, when capable, feign incapacity, when active, incapacity. When near, make it appear that you are far away; when far away that you are near, Offer the enemy a bait to lure him; feign disorder and strike him”
The key leadership lesson here is that you must never be predictable. This can be applied more specifically in the aspect of self-leadership. If you recall, in my previous post Perception Part 2, I underscored the importance of strategic thinking when it comes to self-leadership. What this point, therefore, tells us is that when it comes to leading oneself, you must not abide by the picture that you present to people. Sun Tzu further states, “When he concentrates, prepare against him; where he is strong, avoid him…Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.” If you read the Book, Lincoln the Unknown by Dale Carnegie, you would find that almost everyone on President Lincoln’s cabinet thought that they could do a better job than him. So how did he respond to that? Through silence… Instead of directly confronting the bitter criticisms, he let them sour only to disapprove them by his actions later on. So, don’t be predictable. It’s easy to take advantage of a predictable person because you know their reactions. When you are dealing with difficult people, don’t confront them head-on. The activist Rigoberta Menchu once said, “I am like a drop of water on a rock. After drip, drip, dripping in the same place, I begin to leave a mark, and I leave my mark in many people’s hearts.” So, your actions are the drips in this scenario. Every time you keep quiet when you should react, work hard when someone thinks you are lazy, and so on, you leave a mark on the hearts of people. It’s called emotional intelligence. But we will talk about that later.
2. Be a Visionary
Sun Tzu further listed five factors that contribute to the success of any warfare. These were Moral Influence, Weather, Terrain, Command, and Doctrine. For the purposes of this blog, we will only focus on Moral Influence, Command, and Doctrine.
He said of Moral Influence that, “…that which causes the people to be in harmony with their leaders so that they will accompany them in life and unto death without fear of mortal peril.” This talks of allegiance by the followers to a cause or vision set by the leader. People submit to a vision and not to leaders. Therefore, it follows that if a leader has no vision, the allegiance of his followers is based on variables that are likely to change. That’s why no one ever named a street after Michael Jackson. Yes, he was the King of Pop and a consequential man in his field but that’s about it. Now, compare him to Martin Luther King Jr… (the man has a street named after him). This shows that his life’s work and vision are still relevant even today. Applying this to our hypothetical ‘difficult’ person, we can come up with a lot of conclusions. One of these is that people generally respect other people who have a vision of what they want. Although you should avoid confrontations at all costs, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your day in court. (I didn’t mean that literally!). You should have your voice heard and your vision duly recognized. The other person, no matter the level of his hostility, should know who you are and what you want. They may not like you or treat you right but you must teach them how to respect you through deliberately displaying what you would like to see change.
3. Be Sincere
Sun Tzu said of Command that, “the general’s qualities of wisdom, sincerity, humanity, courage, and strictness.” What we derive from this is that a leader need not be the smartest but however, he needs to be wise and be able to recognize changing circumstances. His sincerity means that the people he leads should have confidence in him; That he is a man of his words and will reward those who deserve merit. Then humanity means that he should be able to empathize with people and the personal struggles that they go through. For him to understand those he leads; empathy should be a top priority. Then, in matters were courage is concerned, the leader should be able to seize opportunities whenever he can afford them. Then, finally, his level of strictness should ensure that discipline is fervently enforced. For the achievement of objectives becomes extremely difficult without the element of discipline. So, in our context, this means that you must take the first step to show sincerity if you want to win that ‘difficult’ person over. You shouldn’t be sarcastic about it. You have to show that you really do care about the person although you are not treated very well. At work, this might mean being disciplined enough to go to work on time for meetings. At home, it might mean staying true to the word you promised your son that you would watch his show. Society naturally respects people who are sincere and honest but surprisingly enough they never tell them. That is why people praise the good things a person did after they die. It’s because the guilt eats them up. And that is why Malcolm X said, “I want to be remembered as someone who was sincere. Even if I made mistakes, they were made in sincerity. If I was wrong, I was wrong in sincerity.” So, be sincere.
4. Know the Limits
Then finally, we will now analyze Doctrine. Sun Tzu said of it as follows: “By doctrine, I mean organization, control, assignment of appropriate ranks to officers, regulation of supply routes, and the provision of principal items used by the army.”
This all has to do with prioritizing. Self-leadership means knowing how to take time seriously and organizing yourself in a disciplined manner. If you are leading an organization, for example, this may mean assigning the proper tasks to people who are particularly good at what they do. If a man is good at something, give him tasks that are appropriate to his line of work. That’s how I interpret what Sun Tzu meant here. Now, going back to our ‘difficult’ person, I think this means you have to know the limits. Don’t take yourself too far but at the same time, don’t push others too much. Now, this is particularly hard to do if the ‘difficult’ person is someone you are leading. Perhaps someone in an inferior position like a child or an employee. You may assume that they are not applying themselves enough and in most cases, you may be right. However, identifying a problem is necessarily curing it. For example, I have heard a lot of parents say to their kids, ‘Why can’t you be like me, when I was your age, I used to do such and such.’ This approach almost always never works because the person it is addressed to will undoubtedly feel alienated. People like to be understood. So, just don’t talk about what you want to achieve for someone and how they should pat you on the back. But, make your voice heard to them and try to make them understand through their point of view. If you do that and they still don’t get it, just leave them alone. Now, that’s where you have to know your limits.
So, to conclude, nobody likes to deal with a ‘difficult’ person not even ‘difficult’ people themselves. Often times, it is a cat and mouse game of whose evil is the worst. Parents will say their kids are ‘difficult’ and the kids will practically say the same thing. Someone might say my boyfriend never listens to me no matter how many times I say the same thing over and over again. And the cycle goes on and on just like that. I believe that Sun Tzu’s principles can be of help. They are still ripe for application in the corporate world, family life, and on every level of human interaction. I hope that these lessons from the Art of War have been helpful to you. If not, feel free to contact vigilante scholar for more information and advice for your particular situation. Until then, Good Luck!
Leading oneself and the quest for self-development is often a daunting task for most of us. It is fairly difficult to change your perception and the way you view the world. In a previous post, I had alluded to the power of perception and the strategies you could use to change the way you view yourself and others. Indeed, perception is the bedrock of leadership and it really matters that you maintain a good self-image before you attempt to lead others. Not only did I emphasize this point in that specific post, but I had also touched a little bit on the subject in my final conclusion of the book, The Double Win, by Denis Waitley. So, it would be safe for you to think of this as a supplementary post to the blog posts I have just mentioned. We are now moving away from an internal self-image to the application of a very important principle in self-development: Positioning.
Let’s take an Imaginary trip
Imagine if God, assuming that you believe in God, had allowed you to choose what type of family you would like to be born into. Let’s further imagine that he allowed you to choose the color of your skin, your gender, your country, and perhaps the financial status of your family. I can imagine that most of us would probably request a similar thing. We would say I would like to be born as a boy into a white American family with lots of wealth or perhaps as the son of Queen Elizabeth. Now, before you start throwing rocks at me, hold your horses. You see, whether we like to admit it or not, life on earth is tougher for some people than others. For example, women, black people, and other minorities, generally find it tougher to get respect. This is all because of our shared biased history. A lot of countries in Africa find it hard to grasp the concept of a female president and it’s really a painful sight to see. Now, I understand that not all of these assumptions can ring true to everyone because we have different preferences. But given the human tendency to avoid pain and seek pleasure, most of us would likely choose a family similar to what I’ve mentioned.
Anyway, what does this all have to do with self-development? Well, positioning is very important in attaining whatever goal you set your mind to achieve. But it’s also important that you are realistic about how you set your goals. You need to sit down and ask yourself, ‘what is my position in life and what exactly do I have?’ Knowing your limitations is very important. I mean here is a guy from a poor family in a third world country who thinks he will become a billionaire at age 30. What is he thinking? He says it’s because Warren Buffet became a millionaire at 30. I hate to sound pessimistic but chances are that he’s not going to achieve that goal. This is for the simple reason that the circumstances and positioning of life are different. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that some poor people from third world countries cannot become millionaires or billionaires at age 30, such people do in fact exist, but they are the exception and not the rule.
According to Forbes, the Nigerian Billionaire, Aliko Dangote, is Africa’s richest man. I took a keen interest in finding out how he came to reach that position. His story is an interesting one. I found out that he started his business from a loan he got from his uncle. Today, this business has grown to be a multi-national conglomerate which generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. I often joke to myself that if I had a rich uncle to whom I could borrow those hefty sums of money, I also could’ve been like the Nigerian Business magnate.
Aliko Dangote was well-positioned to become the man that he is today. I believe there’s still hope for most of us in Africa who may not have been so lucky to believe in our ambitions. I have seen so many people beat themselves over the goals that they did not achieve when they were younger. They often say, “I wish I could have invested in stocks when I was 25, or I wish could have saved more money for the kids.” Such regret hits the soul with the force of a sledgehammer. It’s really heart-breaking and to make matters worse, there’s actually a quote which emphasizes this horror of life: “A man who views the world the same way at age 40 as he did when he was 20, has wasted 20 years of his life.” The inescapable fact is that people change but that doesn’t need to be a source of regret. We just need to learn a little bit more about the power of positioning.
Being realistic is not always a bad thing
When a person is realistic about his expectations and in setting his goals, seeing the importance of positioning becomes fairly easy. If you are from a third world country and a poor family, like me, you have to learn how to put yourself in a position where the possibility of failure is reduced. The ancient Chinese general, Sun Tzu once said that “Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment of defeating the enemy.”
This is my final analysis of the book, The Double Win, by Denis Waitley. In this last lesson on leadership, we going to focus on what the author calls the ‘in-built Thermostat’ that every person has. He took his readers off a little into the realm of psychology on this one but his lessons were nonetheless valid. His main point was that every human being today has a self-image that is deeply embedded into the subconscious mind. The title of Chapter 4 of the book is the Win-Lose Child of your Past. In this chapter, he had talked about the power that modern television has on our minds. To quote him he said, “To live the Double Win in a Win-Lose environment, we need to realize that T.V. programming is dictated by win-lose individuals who are interested in immediate profit gratification than in the side effects of their products.”
So then, the question becomes, should you stop watching T.V. if you want to become a Double Winner? Not necessarily.
The main point here is that it would be difficult for you to change your self-image if you are still being stimulated by the Win-Lose philosophy whenever you pick up the remote. I, personally, have undergone a major drift from being a T.V. fanatic to being one of its toughest critics. To be utterly blunt, I think most of the stuff that is on T.V. and cable nowadays is poison. My reasoning for this is that in a world where minding your own business should be a priority if you are going to find any sense of self-worth, modern television makes that goal almost impossible to achieve. So, ultimately and subconsciously, we learn the habits of those that represent less than 10% of the general population. Denis Waitley actually said that “we learn by observation, imitation and, repetition. We seize our role models, observe their actions, imitate, then become what we see, hear, read, feel and touch.” So, imagine the tragedy of a person who is born into a poor family in a third world country imitating Jay-z or Beyoncé.
Obviously, that would engender a Win-Lose philosophy right from the start because he sees that he must trample on whoever is in his way to look like his role model. Regardless of your age or cultural background, there’s always an inclination to please the crowd that is around you. That’s what Denis Waitley called the “Inner child of your past”. To a large extent, who are you are today has been largely influenced by factors such as how you were raised, T.V. cultural indoctrination and perhaps how your teachers in grade school treated you. To illustrate this point, Denis Waitley tells a story of a married couple: Robert had been married to Pauline and had noticed that whenever she was preparing a piece of ham for him, she would always cut off both ends. So, he asked her why she always did that and she responded by saying that was the way her mother prepared it. So, on a visit to the mother’s place, he asked Pauline’s mother as to why she always cut off both ends of the ham when preparing the meal and she replied that ‘that was the way that my mother used to do it.’ Determined to bring a solution to the mystery, Robert asked Pauline’s grandmother about it and she replied, ‘I cut it that way because my baking dish is too small.’ So, we can clearly see here how a habit was passed down from one generation to another through observation, imitation and, repetition. This all comes in to contribute to what makes your self-image…
The self-image was defined by Denis Waitley as the ‘total picture of who we think we are.’
Until recently, I have been very much unaware of how insecure I have been over the years. It’s only when I took an introspective analysis of my actions that I realized that I had a very poor self-image. Even today, I feel my gut wrench whenever somebody compliments my intelligence or says that I have done a good job. But I was not always like this; my insecurities were a monster born from years and years of being a follower of the win-lose philosophy. In retrospect, I think I was arrogant and thought I knew everything. When push came to shove and my abilities were tested, ‘I had realized that I was not as good as I thought I was compared to such and such a person.’ This led to an inner turmoil that culminated with me literally begging and crying for people not to leave me.
So, I am a person who understands the pain of knowing that your best is not good enough. And in this Win-Lose world, chances are that you will feel the same way I felt. I am a work-in-progress, and I should say that in applying the principles in this book, I have felt my self-confidence boosted. This I attribute to the change I’ve had in my self-image and the way I think of myself before anybody else tags me in a certain group.
Abel Chungu, the very talented Zambian Gospel singer once tweeted, “If you have a problem with me, call me so that we can solve it. If you don’t have my number, then you don’t know me well enough to have a problem with me.”
I think there was a subtle message in that tweet about the self-image. You are not what people think you are. Actually, you are what you think of yourself to be. I always tell myself whenever I am in a crisis that, ‘You are stronger than you think you are’ and often, these simple words become a source of great strength. The problem is that most of us don’t believe ourselves whenever we say we are good enough. The major reason why this is so hard to believe is that it causes an internal conflict. Here is a guy who for years has been trained to think of himself as mediocre. The moment you tell him that he can do more than he does, it would spark a war of contradiction. Years and years of cultural indoctrination would fight these assumptions right off the start and it only gets worse when you get older. So, my recommendation is that you should work on your self-image and be very careful about how you talk to yourself. A part of self-respect, which helps create a good self-image, is knowing what not to say to yourself. Never judge your abilities based on other people’s words or actions.
In conclusion, every one of us should ensure to create a good self-image. An image distinct from what people or society says or feels about us. I would like to reiterate my recommendation for the readers of this post to read the Double Win by Denis Waitley. As a Vigilante Scholar, I had learned a great deal about myself and self-development just from analyzing the texts of this book. There’s a lot more that I could speak on this but save for time, I would rather leave it to you to judge. I am confident that you would reach the same conclusion I reached and indeed, find the information helpful in your life and your quest for Leadership and Self-Development.
In one of my previous posts, I had alluded to the importance of perception. So, in this one, we are going to take a look at some of the strategies that someone can take to change that. In order for this to happen, it’s important that you understand attitude; This is perhaps as important as any other single factor.
Attitude usually comes about as a result of cultural indoctrination and expectations. This indoctrination, often, creates a picture of oneself in what psychologists call, ‘the subconscious mind’. One of the strategies that I recommend in changing perception is to build a proper self-image. Ideally, this sounds simple but it is extremely hard to do in practice. Most of the self- help books out there would recommend repeating some mantra of some sort and keep your fingers crossed in the high hopes that you would change the way you think. However, this more than likely never works in real life. So, the question is why?
It’s because you can’t fool or deceive yourself into being something you are not. Human Beings are creatures of habit, so in order for you to effect change, habits must be formed through a repetitive process of decisions.
One of the habits that I recommend is what I call ‘Mental Imaging’. This means that you should face the challenge head on and literally take an offensive front through consistent action i.e.you should use constant reaffirmation backed up by actionable results.
For it is one thing to commit to changing your in-built perception through habits and another to repeat some magical words in the hopes that your life will change. Habituation is the key to ensure that your perceptions change. There’s actually an ancient secret developed by the Romans which holds that if you do something consistently for 21 days, then it would automatically become a habit. This ancient secret teaches that in order for you to create a habit, there has to be consistency.
So, in application to our issue here, it is cardinal that you apply the habit consistently. If you cannot do that, then there’s no doubt that your subconscious self will not believe you. Actually, all of the actions that we make each and every single day are subject to authentication by our subconscious. In other words, to some extent, the origin of all our actions are influenced to a high degree by the subconscious mind. So, if you consistently act in a way that contradicts your subconscious, it will have no choice but to comply with the new pattern of actions taking place. I can tell you my personal experience as an example. Prior to October 2016, I pretty much hated anything to do with books and reading. I could hardly sit in front of a book for more than two hours. My reasoning at the time was based on what a friend of mine told me that “it’s scientifically been proven that a person cannot study for more than three straight.” Without even checking the authenticity of this assumption, I just naturally accepted it and gave up studying soon as it ticked three hours. So, one day I decided to test the assumption by daring myself to study from 10 a.m. in the morning to 7 p.m., no matter the consequences. And guess what? I had managed to complete the task, with extreme difficulty I should say, but with a grin on my face. At that very point, I took the first step in changing my subconscious image.
So, the results would be the same for you as they were for me. You only need to make sure that’s what you want and you are willing to put in the effort. There are no shortcuts.
In conclusion, perception can be changed but it’s not easy because you are literally going against everything you have been taught and thought you knew. But however, with the right mentality and attitude, changing perception is invariably simple if you are willing to dare yourself in doing what you are not normally accustomed to.
Whenever the average person thinks of Japan, I bet they picture Sumo Wrestlers, Sushi, Notorious Gangs with Funny Names, Ninjas and Karate. But is that all there is to this small but powerful country? If wealth was measured by the size of a country, there’s no doubt Japan would be one of the poorest in the world. However, Japan stands today among the strong economies of the world. Geographically speaking, the country doesn’t have much to offer; They have few, if any, natural resources and a usable landmass that is subjected to Earthquakes. Then, in contrast, let us take Zambia as an example; My country has an abundance of Natural Resources. We experience little, if any, natural disasters such as Earthquakes, Hurricanes and the like. In fact, I have never personally witnessed any of those disasters… (I know I have the memory of an old woman sometimes, but on this one? I am absolutely sure.) So, what’s missing here? Why the stark difference?
The answer is one word: Leadership.
Japan is a country of many leaders and few followers while Zambia is a country of a few leaders and many followers. No matter how talented or gifted someone or something is, the only people on Earth that can release that potential are leaders. Now, sometimes the person with the talent also happens to be a leader; A rare circumstance but a most fortunate one. However, leaders are most of the time, the people in the sidelines facilitating and helping that person achieve their goal.
So, let us go back to Japan…
According to the book, Keeping Good Company by Jonathan Charkham, the 3 main features that affect Japanese attitudes towards Corporate Governance are their concepts of ‘obligation’, ‘family’ and ‘consensus’ all linked into one.
By ‘obligation’, we mean that Japanese workers at every level in the Company feel that their effort counts and that they have something to contribute. A good leader always communicates his vision and that’s exactly what the Japanese do.
(We will take a look at vision later on in subsequent posts).
The second is family. To use the author’s words, what that means is that the leaders create an atmosphere that ‘commands allegiance and prime attention of everyone from top to bottom.’ Which is somehow tied to the point mentioned earlier on ‘Obligation’.
Then lastly, by ‘Consensus’, we mean that immense efforts are put into building a consensus, i.e. a general or widespread agreement with the members of the company. This is fervently enforced even at the cost of a slow and often cumbersome decision-making process.
One of the main challenges of leadership is deciding on what’s more important than the other. Usually, leaders have the challenge of making the decision on whether achieving their goal should be prioritized over motivating their teams. The Japanese seem to handle the dilemma quite well. They understand what needs to be achieved, and instead of shoving the company’s goals down the employees’ throat, they make him understand his relevance to the company beyond a salary. (through consensus of course)
Although these are not all of the Principles of Leadership that the Japanese use, they are nonetheless as powerful as they are rare. Hopefully, companies and people in third world countries like Zambia could learn a thing or two from them. It’s in doing so, that I feel mind transformation and ultimately good leadership could take place.
A few days ago, I came across a very funny situation. As usual, I was coming down from the library, lost in thought. Until, I came to a street where some Kids were playing football (Americans call it soccer). Now, I think they were on a short recess and decided to entertain themselves with a little debate. They had drawn the Number 6 at the center of the road and had divided themselves into two teams, (at least from what I could tell).
The team at the left side of the street said the number was 6 while the team on the right said that the number was 9. The whole scene was so weird that I just had to ask as to what was going on.
Then, one of them filled me into the details and said, “What do you think uncle, isn’t that number a 9?” He looked at me with a puppy-eye look and I just melted saying, “Yeah, I think it is a 9.” To say that he was ecstatic at my response would be an understatement. He immediately pointed at his friends screaming at the top of voice, “I told you so, I told you so” and I just felt sorry for the other kids. At that point, the debate was over and the football game resumed as if nothing had happened.
Now, lost in deep thought again, an epiphany suddenly came to mind; We all want approval for our different perceptions and seek support from an authority to validate our selves. I mean think about it, why else do you need to go to college to get a degree in something you can easily look up on the internet?
Albert Einstein actually once said, “Don’t memorize anything that you can look up.” The simple answer to this mystery is this keyword: ‘Validation.’
Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s nothing wrong with people officially proving that we are competent in a certain field. However, this line of thinking becomes tragic when it comes to leading people. It’s okay for a manager to stay in his lane but if you are going to succeed as a leader, breaking the Status Quo has to be second nature. Leaders don’t need much validation from others because often times they are the ones at the tail end of that equation.
So, what does perception have to do with anything?
Well, how you perceive the world really determines how you lead yourself and others. As the Bible proverb goes, “So a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
A leader’s perception of a situation is largely dependent on the vision that he has. Whereas others see despair and chaos, a leader sees opportunity. But how can this be?
Well, its because the only person that needs to validate a leader is himself. Since they don’t need much validation from others, their perception of who they are allows them to make such leaps.
Come to think of it, I could’ve sworn that the number that was drawn by those Kids really looked like a 6. Or maybe its just me trying to get validation from those sad kids because I felt bad… (no pun intended).
Anyway, the bottom line is that if you want to lead effectively, you must work on a self-validation basis. The perception of your circumstances on personal level, business level or even national level depends heavily on how you think. Having the right perception, you will ultimately become the leader that you are destined to be.
In my next blog, I will take a look at some of the Strategies that one can take to change his perception and release the trapped leader within. Please, make sure you wash your hands regularly. Wouldn’t want the Corona Virus to get to you before my next blog now, do we? So, stay safe and see you then Vigilante Scholars!!!
The Marvel Villain, Thanos, in the movie Avengers: Infinity War, is an interesting personality. He seems to believe that life in the universe needs some form of correction. He was quoted saying, “The Universe is finite, its resources finite, if life is left unchecked, then it will cease to exist…”
So, what was his solution? Wipe out half of all life. He said, “When we faced extinction, I offered a solution…(genocide) random, dispassionate, fair between rich and poor alike and they called me a mad man. But what I predicted came to pass…”
Now, at this point, I bet you are probably thinking that I am a geek or something but I want you to capture the main point; Thanos was a strict adherent of what Denis Waitley calls the Win- Lose philosophy. He seems to believe that there is not much room in the Universe for all of us. That the resources out there are scarce and therefore, only a few gifted people deserve the prestige that life can afford. Pretty crazy right?
Surprisingly, that’s how most of us are raised. We are brutally made alive to the fact that in this world of ‘my way is the right way’, there are a few Jobs out there for the many of us. Hence, the misconception of competition, which I mentioned in my previous post, is triggered.
From a purely economic point of view, I think there’s some merit to the Win-Lose philosophy. After all, not all of us can afford some, if not all, of the luxuries of life.
But I beg to differ.
Human Beings, like no other creatures, are endowed with in-born abilities to lead. Yes, that does mean every one of us.
The difficulty lies in our inability to see the ‘Natural Resources’ that are in every person.
Denis Waitley put it like this, ‘Losers see a problem in every solution, Winners seek a solution in every problem, while Double Winners help others solve their problem.’
Leaders are the only people on the planet that can see solutions in other people. They don’t have to necessarily bring out the solution but they act as catalysts in facilitating its existence in the real world.
There comes a time in every person’s life when they have to choose between their ego and solving a problem. Leaders always choose the latter over the former. You would be surprised how rare that kind of decision-making is!
“I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”
Abraham Lincoln- 16th President of The U.S.
Now, right there above, is a true leader talking.
Most of the time, especially in the political arena, self-proclaimed leaders would rather please their own egos at the expense of a solution. Even at National level, some politicians would rather see hundreds upon hundreds of people perish than use an opposition party’s solution to a problem. True leadership is intolerant to such ideals.
In my next blog, I will tackle my final analysis of the Double-win and hopefully will inspire a few readers to impact those closest to them. I believe that the principles depicted in this book are indispensable to self development. It’s only in the application of these virtues can one truly lead.
There are a few books in my personal library that I have toiled to read more than once and the Double Win by Denis Waitley is definitely one of them. I am not a fan of self-help books per se and I only read such books if their content serves my purpose. In fact, the author of the book was sure to mention that the Double Win is not one of the many self-help books out there. It is actually one of a kind and covers very philosophical questions that I think a good leader should answer.
Anyway, enough of my uncalled-for book advertising…
The book in general raises stop signs in the reader’s mind by asking: Is all this competition really necessary?
In the Business World and other fields, it’s almost impossible to succeed without trampling a few competitors. Or is it?
Does winning always correspond to someone losing? Or maybe it’s just a human paradigm that has been held for so long that it seems to be true?
Chapter 10 of the Double Win starts off by asking, “Can the Double Win work in the Workplace?”
In the subsequent text, the author said, “It’s a fair question that might be asked by a cynic or skeptic. The Double Win sounds like a nice idea for the ‘civilized’ settings where people can afford to say, ‘If I help you win, then I win too’. But can it really work in the corporate jungle, where the bloody law of tooth and claw reads: Our goal is maximum return for the Stockholders.”
It is important to know that competition in and of itself is not bad. However, it becomes tragic when men place value on their own personal ambition over other people.
The key word that was emphasized in the book was ‘synergy’. Meaning that, you don’t have to do everything by yourself; You have to look at your business, government, even your competitors as pieces of the puzzle working together.
In another words, you need to get the big picture…
One of the main reasons as to why so many people hated John D. Rockefeller Sr in the 20th century was that he made a monopoly. In the eyes of the public, he was seen as a greedy tapeworm claiming 1.5% of the economy each year, while they could hardly feed their children.
That is to say, he made a business empire free of competition but was stifled by lack of innovative progress. The people at that time understood unknowingly the principle of leadership I am trying to drive home: ‘Synergy’.
Leaders need not be the smartest, most handsome, charismatic or even the most gifted in oratory; all they need to do is coordinate and inspire their team to achieve its goals. This means inspiring the individual members to give in their very best and contribute whatever it is they have to offer. i.e. synergy.