Glowing scars

“Please ask questions. Most likely if you have a question, then someone else does too.”

I’ve heard this plenty of times in classrooms and seminars. And it’s never helped ease my fears and raise my hands. I don’t feel any more comfortable speaking my mind, especially in front of a group of people. The fear of asking a stupid question that makes everyone laugh and think “what a retard” still persists.

Great artists know that to touch the hearts of your audience, you must become a mirror for the rage and pain, triumphs and glory that you experience deep within. These strong emotions are broiling in the stomachs of every person, yet on the outside they have to act (literally) like nothing is wrong.

That help-wishful phrase about others having the same questions might not be helpful, but otherwise it’s a very powerful statement. It means that despite what you are feeling, a lot of other people feel the same way you do. And the deeper you go into yourself and pull all those disgusting bits out of you, the more people feel connected to you.

Anyone can become a mirror for someone else, a powerful mirror that changes and moves people. A mirror that shines brightly the flaws in character that frees others from the shame of their own scars. The people who have shone the brightest in history are those who have somehow embraced their flaws, learned from them, then masterfully transformed those flaws into their greatest triumphs. And then these people dedicate their lives to bringing the same transformation to others in their lives.

So if you have a question, a yearning question deep inside you that you haven’t asked anyone because you’re afraid, afraid that no one else will understand, no one else has asked. Then don’t worry about asking it to others in a classroom or a seminar. Ask it of yourself, and find the answer to it.

And then, if you want, you can become a shining mirror to others by sharing your question. You can be the one in front of the classroom or seminar trying to get people to participate and ask you questions. And you can lead them to find the answer for themselves and help transform their lives. You can become a powerful transformative figure that will etch your signature into the book of human history.

What’s so great about Steve Jobs?

Steve JobsIn Derek Sivers Ted talk about how to start a movement, he outlines the importance of the first follower. Before the first follower, a leader is just a nut. The leader is an outsider, a weirdo, a person to be held in contempt and ridicule. But as soon as the first follower comes into the picture, the leader is instantly transformed into the trendsetter. The visionary. The leader.

I don’t believe that Steve Jobs was a leader in that way. There’s nothing very special and unique about him. He didn’t have any great technical skills. He wasn’t a visionary in that he created something new that no one else has ever seen before.

What Steve Jobs was instead, was a genius at being the first follower. He was the best cheerleader that a weirdo can ever have. He believed, and he put his entire life on the line for something, and someone, that he believed in. It first started with Wozniak, then the animators at Lucas Inc, which he helped turn into Pixar, then NextTel, then offshoots from Xerox into Adobe. (not in any chronological order because I’m too lazy to do the actual research)

But he wasn’t someone who stupidly bet all his chips into some lame unique technology. He also wasn’t lazy or inept. He was a genius in recognizing the value of something and then he had the courage to lay his entire career on the line for it. Over and over again he bet it all for what he believed in.

He had courage. But also importantly, he had compassion and understanding. He had compassion to be able to be the only support for people who knew that they were doing something great.. but no one else believed in them. And he had understanding to realize the value of what those people were trying to do, what they believed in.

He might not have been the greatest leader.. but he was probably the greatest follower these two centuries have ever seen.

Two pronged leadership

It is said that there is a difference between a leader and a manager. I’m not going to refer to a dictionary for the definition of the two. If you’ve read my post, The epitome of ego gratification, then you should know why. Instead I’ll create my own definition through my vast experience, and mastery, in both those aspects.
A manager is someone who can organize, and execute. This requires the ability to analyze (analyze, by the way kids, means to “break something apart.” It’s opposite is synthesize, which means to “put things together”) and solve problems. The ultimate goal for any manager is to maximize output while minimizing input in the most simplest and quickest way possible.
A leader is someone who creates the problems. Or another way to say it more positively, they find areas of need where improvement can occur or they create an entirely new thing that doesn’t exist yet but could. The leader is someone who keeps the managers busy. The ultimate goal of a leader is to create a HUGE new problem to give to the managers to solve. People like Robert Kennedy was a leader. He created this HUGE problem for all the managers in NASA.. get us to the moon quick!
That’s all well and great, I’ve managed (see what I did there?) to impart to you a pretty darn good understanding of the difference between managers and leaders. I might also add that it was very short, clear, and quick. But as a great leader.. I haven’t created much of anything new.
So here is your great leader’s contribution.
Normally when people discuss the difference between managers and leaders, they say something like “and that’s why, in your leadership role, must have both managerial skills and leadership qualities.” Well I say that’s bullfecal.
The approach of a single entity in charge of multiple entities is very old fashioned. Why have just one head honcho, have two of them that complement each other (and also by the way.. drive each other nuts).
I believe in teamwork and division of labor. Just find someone with a lot of creativity and an anal retentive attention to what’s wrong in the world. And get someone who’s very satisfied with how organized everything is in their life and likes to pick apart things too much. Put them together and watch the sparks fly.
That is, unless you’re me, who’s talented with both. I make my own sparks. They’re very efficient and bright sparks. And soo pretttty..