Lesson 3: The Philosopher King
The last night of the retreat we had to look into the eyes of everyone of our group members and tell them what we saw in them. 90% of the people said they chose me as their leader and would follow me anywhere. WTF!?! Not what I was going for on this retreat! I was there for me, screw everyone else!
In Plato's Republic, Socrates says that the ones who should be in charge are the ones who don't want to be, and he calls these rulers the Philosopher Kings. I always agreed with the simple idea that rulers who don't want to rule are the least apt to be corrupt, hence there is a fundamental flaw in campaigning for election. Now, 10 years after reading The Republic I experienced a deeper meaning of what Plato was writing. The one who doesn't want to lead could care less if he is leading because he's focused on the goal, not leading.
I had to start asking people why they kept saying they wanted me as their leader and most of them pointed to day 2 and said, "It was apparent you knew what you were doing and didn't need the agreement or consensus of anyone to do it. You're confidence shines forth and that's the type of person I can get behind."
Leaders don't choose to lead. They choose a path and follow it. Their goal is not to tell others what to do, they are driven by a purpose and follow that direction. In the process others see this and willingly fall in step because they are just as lost as everyone else is on this earth. The leaders then see that others are now on the same path and focus on how they can help the others along to the common goal.
Yes, people want to be lead, but they must choose where they are being lead and by whom. Conversely, leaders aren't there to tell people what to do or convince them that what is the right thing to do, the leader is there to assist them so they all achieve the common goal. The slave/leaders were wrong every step of the way. But the servant/leader can move mountains.
For years I wanted to own my own company and be the boss and be the leader. This pretty much always resulted in misery. Ironically in 2010 when I gave all that up and said, "Let's focus on me," is when I became a leader. When I told this story to Devlyn Steele, he simply laughed as if he were saying, "Duh." Then he says, "Domenic, you are a natural born leader and people will want to follow you whether you like it or not," and I replied, "But I don't want that anymore," and he said, "Whoever said it was your choice?"
Lesson 4: Not everyone has to lead and that's a good thing
Fast forward a couple years and I'm at a similar retreat. Ironically, many of the people in this one had gone through the same retreat I did years earlier, but only a couple of days prior. Evidently, they didn't learn the same lessons.
It started the same; a bunch of people said how they could contribute to our group, they were all go getters and problem solvers and ready to "lead people". I wasn't as cynical this time, when asked what I would contribute, I said I was a solution finder. Many looked at me like "What the hell does that mean," and blew me off.
Smaller group, more tasks we had to accomplish together, same exact thing, several people attempting to "lead" and bickering ensues. Our first task was 10 minutes long and they deliberated for 9 minutes. I thought back to my leadership skills and said, "You're never going to convince them there is a better way, just be yourself and they will see."
Another thing they tried in this one was to be more "inclusive" of everyone and have everyone contributing to the idea. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Many of the tasks this time were puzzles and while they strategized on how to do it, I simply did it.
After about 3 or 4 of these 30 minute tasks, some of our group started to get it. They stopped listening to our "leaders" altogether and turned to me and said, "How can I help?" My reply was always the same, "Well, this is what I figured would work, so this is what I'm trying out, if you want to help there is task A, B and C, that come next, you can start on one of those." And that's all it took. I found solutions to problems and I'd love some help trying out my theories.
By the end of the week, I was seen by all as one of the main leaders of our group, members were volunteering me to be our speaker, talk first and summarize our conversations. This time I didn't want it, I didn't ask for it, but I did expect it would happen and I wasn't surprised. That being said, would I have been disappointed if it didn't work out that way, no. The whole point of this retreat was learning to go with the flow, and I did that.
I continue to live my life and I really don't have anything figured out, I feel more lost than ever right now. I really do feel that I "Make it up as I go along," but that is the path of a creator...evidently that is the path of a leader.