[July 31, 2020] Multiple times throughout my blog, I define leadership as the ability to get people to do things they would not ordinarily do and to do those things because they want to do them.1 That, however, is only half of what great leadership is about. Great leadership also means to know evil and face evil; only by doing so can each person play their part in a better world.
No, No …. I’m not philosophical, although some will make that argument. I’m very practical here. Those of us who are young, whether a leader or not, must come to terms that we know very little about the world. So much so that we could argue we are but mere pawns on the world stage. Yet, through good mentorship, humility, and hard work to reinforce our character, can we gradually develop to the point that we make a significant contribution to our families, communities, and to our culture.
“I don’t think that you have any insight whatsoever into your capacity for good until you have some well-developed insight into your capacity for evil.” – Prof. Jordan Peterson
From the time we are a child on the playground where the symbolic evil in the bully threatens us, start the process of building our ability to be a good person begins. Our parents are our first mentors. They are the ones who encourage, teach, and coach us, and also push us out into the world because we would be harmed otherwise. At some point, our parents will no longer help us. It is when they know that we can solve our own problems. And, eventually, we can help those who need help, but only mature support like our parents provided us.
“No tree can grow to Heaven unless its roots reach down to Hell.” – Carl Gustav Jung
That is why I will argue that we must learn to distinguish evil from good. Those who are familiar with the Bible can testify that much of what is written in both the Old and New Testaments is an attempt to do just that. The proverbial question that we all ask is, how do we discover such a difference. And, that is the meta stories of biblical Adam and Eve in the Garden and Budda’s quest for understanding life’s limitations found in his father’s walled garden.2
Each leader must make the unknown our friend. There are a lot more things we don’t know than we do know. The things we don’t know is the birthplace of all our new knowledge. So, if we make the things we don’t know our “friend,” rather than the things we know, then we will always be on a quest for good. This is an entirely different way of looking at the world and the antithesis of ideologies.
Thanks for reading my post today. I’ve tried to develop a newer and better explanation of leadership. I began with the idea that my definition of great leadership was lacking. I proposed that only by facing evil can leadership genuinely develop, and that starts with the recognition of evil within each of us.