Tag Archives: Leadership

Lead By Example

Once upon a time there was a baby alligator. He was born like other alligators are born, first in an egg, and then hatched by time and his mother. He had several brothers and sisters. If he knew how to count, he would have counted at least sixteen alligator brothers and sisters.

The alligators lived in a very large alligator community, which had been established for several generations. They lived in a swampy place, just outside of several cotton field that were run by a few cotton farmers, that had been there for just as may generations.

Despite speaking different languages, the alligators and the farmers had a mutual understanding. The alligators wouldn’t wander on to the farmer’s fields, and they wouldn’t get shot. The farmers (or more likely their curious kids) wouldn’t wander on the alligator’s neighborhood, and wouldn’t be eaten.

Shortly after this young alligator was born, or hatched, there was a terrible storm. It hadn’t rained in quite a while, and both the farmers and the alligators were getting worried, for different reasons.

The farmers, of course, were overjoyed when the rains came, because it meant that years cotton crop would be particularly lush, which would get them quite a lot of money at the cotton marketplace.

The alligators weren’t so lucky. The rains came at a particular bad time of year. Baby alligator hatching season is a particularly precarious time on the alligator life cycle. The nests are especially vulnerable at this time, as the alligators are too weak to defend themselves, but the mother alligator has to leave them from time to time to get food. If the floods come during this time, it is all too easy for the baby alligators to get swept away and plucked by hungry birds.

Because of the extraordinarily heavy rains, the adult alligators didn’t fare much better. Before long, over half of the entire alligator community was wiped out by the floods, leaving many young orphans.

This young alligator suddenly found himself without a mother, and several siblings that he felt responsible for. He didn’t know how to hunt yet, and he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to provide for them.

One day he was out wandering around, wondering if he would even survive, let alone care adequately for his siblings. He came across a very old alligator, and asked him what he should do.

Young boy. Many have come before you that have faced much harsher conditions. They survived, and so shall you. You must not focus giving food to your siblings and your neighbors, for they must also learn how to fend for themselves. Fate has chosen you to be the next leader in the alligator community. And to do that you must not only provide, but also lead. Your actions will be an example to others. As you show others that you can get your needs met, they will also learn that they, too, can get their own needs met. As you show them that you can survive, they too, will realize they can as well. As you prosper, so shall they.

The young alligator, uplifted by this strange old alligator’s words, walked back to his nest, and rousted his siblings and his neighbors.

“Come!” he shouted.
“We have much work to do!” he turned and began to work. Everybody else followed, certain of their future.

How to Lead People Anywhere, Anytime

I was watching this really whacked out cartoon the other day. I rarely watch cartoons, let alone whacked out ones. These two spaceships were fighting each other, and they kept pulling out these different weapons. Each time they shot all their “bullets,” or whatever they were, the enemies ship would lose its shields. But for each weapon that the “good guy” ship would pull out, the enemy ship would come up with a new force field/shield specifically to combat that particular weapon. It was as if the same manufacturer of cartoon space weapons was colluding with the manufacturer of cartoon space weapon defense shields.

For some reason it reminded me of a book I read once on personal auras. It said that people’s auras have many layers. The layer that most people can see is the outer layer, and that is the layer that interacts with other people. Depending on how “in tune” the person in question is, the subsequent layers of their aura are congruent, or matched in aura frequency. I’m not sure of the physics behind it, but it sounded pretty interesting. When a person is really congruent in whom they are, personally, physically, spiritually, their auras will all be in alignment and they will project a powerful presence. It will have an incredible attractive quality to it. If you’ve ever been around somebody that you just could feel really good in this person’s presence, they likely had fairly congruent set of auras. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. The person that when they walk into a room, everybody just kind of pauses in their conversation slightly, and says “whoa…”

The generally overlooked aspect is that people can be powerfully charismatic without regard to their “moral” outlook. Charles Manson, David Koresh, Jim Jones, that crazy Korean cult guy that has a thousand wives. All these guys are incredibly charismatic and attractive, but they are kind of dangerous. OK, really dangerous. Because their underlying message is ultimately one of self destruction. Simply because they are incredibly congruent with their self-destructive message, they come across as being somebody that many people will naturally follow. They are a great example of the fact that whatever ideas you have, whether they be an idea to save the world, or to lead a band of crazy drug crazed hippies into the jungle, if you are consistent with your beliefs and how you present them, people will follow you.

I think one of the strengths, and weaknesses of human nature is that we will follow a leader at the drop of a hat. If somebody stands up and presents a seemingly congruent message with an easy to understand call for action, we will likely follow them. Even if they are a little bit crazy. One of the interesting phenomena regarding this is despite the members of the group; there will always be one that is the de-facto leader. It’s one of those leftover traits from evolution. When we lived in hunter/gatherer bands out on the African Savannah, we needed to rely on a leader. Otherwise we’d wander cluelessly around and get eaten by tigers. It can be a great resource, both to be a follower, and a leader. Especially if the leader is kind and honest and really is concerned about his or her people. Many great leaders in history demonstrate this.

It can also be dangerous to follow somebody if they happen to be the only one you’ve got. It’s hard to ignore the million year old programmed desire to follow an authority figure. It’s much easier to give up rational thought and go behind somebody. Sometimes, though, we need to accept the fact that one of the responsibilities of being an evolved human is to always question authority, and always be on the lookout for your own interests. Always judge how they match up with the interests of the current leader. There are too many horrors of history that illustrate what happens when people have neglected to do this.

As far as auras go, I’ve never really been able to see them. I even bought a special pair of goggles, that were supposed to train your eyes, but I didn’t have the discipline to practice consistently. Maybe I’ll get lucky someday.

Unfortunately, the warring cartoon spaceships never resolved their issue. They each had to return to their respective space colonies to recharge and repair, so they could meet again. I think my friend told me that in the next episode they have to become friends, because they have to unite against a common enemy. We’ll see.


Make A Choice – The World is Yours

So there I was hiking with my friend. We had been doing switchbacks for several hours, and were both very tired. We got to a point in the trail where we had two options. One was to veer up the left, where we would have to traverse over several large boulders. If we went up to the left, we would get to our destination in about an hour. If we followed the regular trail, we would get to our destination in about three or four. Normally, something like this would be a no brainer, as one hour, especially after hiking switchbacks all day, is much better than hiking three hours. The only problem is that the “shortcut” up to the left was over several large boulders. We decided to give it a go. After about half an hour, I realized I might be in way over my head. My friend was already about half a kilometer up ahead of me, almost out of earshot. I was getting really nervous and anxious, as every third or fourth boulder was wobbling when I stepped on it. I was afraid if I slipped, I might bust an ankle. I didn’t know what to do.

I had a friend once that was an electrical engineer at a very large company. They hired him for his engineering skills. He was well regarded as an electrical genius, as he was responsible for ironing out the bugs in the machines that they were developing. They were in a meeting, getting ready for the big boss to come from the east coast. They had to decide, as one of their major projects was behind schedule. There was one of two ways they could go. They were fairly divided on what to do, and nobody really wanted to make a choice for fear of repercussions from the big cheese.

Its’ interesting what happens when you make a decision. When you make a strong choice, and you are congruent about it, people will almost always follow your decision without question. It almost seems as if people would rather follow somebody who makes a decision that they disagree with rather than choose on their own. Great leaders throughout history have always said the secret of their leadership is the realization that people want a strong and congruent leader who will stick to his decision regardless of what it is.

So my friend was able to see the clear solution. He raised his hand, and offered it to the management at the meeting. They were impressed, and accepted his idea. When the boss came, and approved of the idea, naturally my friend got all the credit. His ability to make a decision and take responsibility for it launched his career up into management, with more responsibility, more exposure, and of course, more money.

And when I finally decided to go around, it was as if a giant weight was lifted off my shoulders. Even though I arrived at our campsite a full four hours after my friend, I had a great time hiking alone. It was something that I’ve never really done before. Hiking alone, out in the Sierra mountains, with only the beauty of nature around us. All because I was able to make a simple choice.


Give Yourself the Gift of Power

If you study great leaders, actors, even kings, you’ll find one common thread about how they move through the world.  You will find one quality that they possess which makes others absolutely captivated by them and moved to support for their cause, whatever it may be. Luckily, we live in a time and a society where those that have this power generally use it for the benefit of man. There have been those leaders in the past who have used this power for evil, and have nearly destroyed whole societies in process. I don’t want to bring down my blog with the mere mention of these evil men, but I’m sure you can imagine who I’m talking about.

What is this quality that they possess? Perhaps more importantly, how can you not only develop this quality, but realize that you already have it? How can you tap this power to make your life a bold statement of the eternal gift that lives in all of us? What steps can you take to easily realize and appreciate this latent power?

First, let’s explore exactly what it is. The one thing that these leaders and kings have is a solid belief that they are the ultimate creators of their life. They are responsible for everything that they achieve, or don’t achieve. Perhaps due to some quirk of their upbringing, perhaps due to a strong conscious choice followed through by strong action, these men and women have decided at some point that their lives were completely up to them. They didn’t wait for permission. They didn’t wait for their parents or teachers to tell them it was ok. They didn’t hear a booming voice through parted clouds that gave them a detailed plan to follow to ensure their success.

No, these powerful men and women learned that everything they wanted, they would have to create. They were able to release the need for approval, guaranteed safety, or the generous opinions of others. They made a choice, and followed through. Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.

How about you? What is holding you back? What are you afraid to release? Are you too concerned with the opinions of others? This can be a difficult thing to let go of.  A kind word from an authoritative figure an make you feel wonderful. A not so kind word can have the opposite effect. The secret to overcoming this is to view yourself as the ultimate authority on your life. You must give yourself the appreciation that you hope to receive from others. It can help to realize that no other person can fully know you as well as you know yourself. Any appreciation or kind opinions they express about your are really filtered through their own experiences and biases, so both good and bad can only have a limited amount of relevance.

When you learn to approve of yourself, your desires, your intentions, above all others, you will realize your power. You will be able to see the world as your playground, where you can enjoy life and create what you want at the same time. You will then learn the wonderful truth about reality that the quickest and easiest way to get what you want is to truly serve others. And not serve others in hopes of a quick, shallow, reciprocation. To truly serve others is to do so in secret, because it allows them to fully appreciate your gift, and it is a powerful message to yourself that you have all you need, and don’t need to rely on the opinions of others any more.