An update. Leadership.

I have not been sick for almost 18 months. All winter, I watched the hacking coughs and congested faces of people cycle through the bar, while I washed my hands the usual 50 times per night.

This week, I played basketball with a clan of little children at the school my brother teaches at, and they got me. Their grubby little playground hands, the melange of germs, mingled together on the basketball, making it a flying orb of death.

Needless to say, I have been unable to post anything here, because my joints were puffed up like Joseph Merrick.

On top of that, while riding my bike last night, 2 kilometers from home, my derailer jumped off of my bike, unprovoked, and had me skateboard-style cruising home. Yes, I sat on the seat and pumped my leg on the cub to go mildly faster than a slow jog.

Enough excuses.

I wanted to share this item the day I got it, but I was not yet blogging when this came to me in the mail.

My mom likes to send me things the old fashioned way, by Canada Post. Mailman, or mailwoman, or mail carrier please. Almost always, it is something reflective, of contemplative, or complimentary. It is always a treat to get a Windsor Salt-blue envelope in the mailbox, as I know it is from her.

This was sent to me weeks ago. A note which had the following, titled “17th Verse of the Tao”:

With the greatest leader above them,

people barely know one exists.

Next comes one whom they love and praise.

Next comes one whom they fear.

Next comes one whom they despite and defy.

When a leader trusts no one, no one trusts him.

The great leader speaks little. He never speaks carelessly.

He works without self-interest,

And leaves no trace.

When all is finished, the people say, “We did it ourselves.”

Well I’ll be!

Where to begin…

This piece of wisdom struck a chord with me. Firstly, it reminded me that I talk too much. If I want to be a leader, which is a nice concept, I feel that I need to shut my yap more often. It’s hard to do when I think I have something to add to a conversation…although when I actually give it some thought, I realize that it would better serve the conversation to simply push the talk along with some prodding, rather than always producing an anecdote that I care more about than anyone else in the world.

But the first two lines of the verse are perfect. People barely know that a great leader exists if he/she is doing their job correctly. I was particularly interested in the line, “He works without self-interest and leaves no trace,” because I think about MOST of the perceived great leaders of our time, and how all of them have huge monuments and statues dedicated to them. Even some of the best leaders, arguably, ever, are on Mount Rushmore, or are having monuments attributed to them (Martin Luther King Jr., Dalai Lama, Jesus Christ, and the list goes on). And I feel that these are things done posthumously by people who feel that the leader deserves the praise. Whereas the leaders themselves would likely protest the idea of an idol made in their image.

Leadership, as I’ve been discovering, is something many step into for reasons unbecoming of a leader, in the truest sense. The power, the prestige, the money, and the self aggrandizement are hard to resist, as we are told day in and day out that this is the best we can be. The spotlight is not only the most effervescent light, but it is the ONLY light to be considered lucky to be under. “Power corrupts” is a concept that never made sense to me until I started having closer contact with leaders. Community leaders, business leaders, band leaders, and those of the like, are the kind of leaders I know personally. Even on this microcosm scale, it is evident that there is an insatiable, prehistoric need to be on top, and to cast your net of dominion among those who originally drew a sense of respect from and whom were inspired by a different version of the now-ego-drunk leader.

These are the examples that I wish resonated more within me, as I find that my ego needs to be deflated more often to allow me to see how to properly lead.

My mother has always been a sage-advice giver. She is always living the path that she covets and professes. I have the best example I need in my brilliant maternal link. Need I look further? I think not.


One response to “An update. Leadership.

  1. Hi Tom,
    Your blog on leadership caught my eye. thought I would share a post I made a while back on the leader within. It takes some gut work to be a true leader. Thanks for sharing. love, Marth

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