Tuesday, March 24, 2009

be a good leader to yourself

During the Vietnam war, there were incidents of "fragging." An American officer might be sleeping peacefully and suddenly a grenade -- an American grenade -- would roll into his tent. Seldom, if ever, was anyone caught and accused of murder. There were officers who were more dangerous than the enemy. Everyone knew it and some were just willing to do something about it.

I suppose anyone who has been part of any group effort has noticed the phenomenon -- people put in positions of leadership who know, or imagine they know, the theory, but have little understanding of actualities. They are full of themselves, confident. They are willing to sacrifice others to their self-important visions. They are, roughly speaking, assholes, and sometimes those under their command may think that fragging is too good for them.

I sometimes think the difference between a "boss" and a "leader" is humility. A good leader knows the work at hand from muzzle to butt plate. Often s/he has done that work or is willing to do it again. S/he knows the intricacies, pitfalls, and rewards in experience and not just because s/he is wearing Armani or went to a very fine school.

Sometimes I wonder how many are willing to be a good leader and how many are simply dancing around with themselves, pretending to know the terrain, finding excuses for hurting others, talking the talk without walking the walk. It's bad enough when these circumstances exist in the work place or on the battlefield, but how is it when it exists in someone's own heart? I think it must be painful and confusing -- knowing, for example, about "Buddhism," without really breaking a sweat to find out what Buddhism might be; knowing about "love" or "freedom" or "heaven" or "compassion" or "God" without bothering to find out.

Be a good leader to yourself. Leaders have the courage to screw up. Over and over and over again. Isn't it in the willingness to make mistakes that any of us learn in a way that is less doubt-filled and pompous? Find something you love and then love it from muzzle to butt plate. Is there a difference between a smack-down bigot and a Ph.D. who can spell the word "tolerance?" Not a hell of a lot when it comes to honest and easy understanding.

Be a good leader to yourself.

In this way you will be a good leader to others as well.

No one wants to wake up with a grenade in their tent.

No comments:

Post a Comment