Easy versus hard

Those things are easy now. They might cost more than we’d like, but you can put them on a check-list and they’ll get done. What’s hard now is breaking the rules. What’s hard is finding the faith to become a heretic, to seek out an innovation and then, in the face of huge amounts of resistance, to lead a team and to push the innovation out the door into the world. Successful people are the ones who are good at this.

~ Seth Godin

slip:4a672.

Excellence

Most see excellences as some grand aspiration. Wrong. Dead wrong. My two cents: Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all. It’s the quality of your next five-minute conversation. It’s the quality of, yes, your next email. Forget the long term. Make the next five minutes rock!

~ Tom Peters

slip:4a670.

Leadership

And in the end, cynicism is a lousy strategy. Hope without a strategy doesn’t generate leadership. Leadership comes when your hope and your optimism are matched with a concrete vision of the future and a way to get there. People won’t follow you if they don’t believe you can get to where you say you’re going.

~ Seth Godin

slip:4a667.

On leadership

Conflicting opinions. Confusing data. Unexpected developments. Interpersonal conflict. We sometimes miss the bliss of the vision and despair. I’m not sure I can do this. You respond immediately, “It seems an impossible thing. Of course it’s hard, but we are going to do this together and I’ll explain how.”

~ Rands from, https://randsinrepose.com/archives/the-way-i-heard-it-was/

There’s an array of skills that a leader has to master to be a good leader. Explaining things is one of those skills. Everyone who knows me even slightly, knows I’m great at explaining things. But as I try to lead more, I’m realizing that no, actually I’m a mediocre—possibly even a poor—explainer. I’ve recently realized that vastly too much of my explanations are about attempting to control other people’s reactions, (or their opinions,) to what I’m suggesting.

“Take this jacket. It’s lightweight, water proof and will keep you dry if we encounter rain. And rain is likely on the mountain we’re setting out to climb. I once went without such a jacket, and I wound up wet and miserable. The color also happens to be one you normally like, and it looks good. It’s got lots of pockets, which are all taped and the design of the flaps keeps water out.” (Alas, a decade ago, that explanation would have also unpacked what “taped” means, and why it’s a desirable feature.)

But that’s way too much information, all intended to convince the listener. It’s a sign of attempted consensus building. It’s all hedging. It’s all me sharing the reasons why you too would make the same decision—to bring this jacket—if you too had all the information and perspective that I have.

A real leader would say, “This is the correct jacket to take, considering the weather we are going to face when we climb that mountain.” Because then, if it turns out it is in fact not the correct jacket, then I’m on the hook for that error. Which is exactly where—on the hook that is—a true leader should be.

ɕ

Prudence

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.

~ Niccolò Machiavelli

slip:4a660.

Leadership

People think that leadership is something that just happens. One is anointed a leader. One is promoted to leadership. One is born into leadership. And of course, this is not the case.

~ Ryan Holiday from, https://ryanholiday.net/18-things-i-stole-from-some-of-historys-greatest-leaders/

Holiday is most famous for his work raising awareness of the ancient, but still very apropos today, philosophy of Stoicism. (Not to be confused with the very different english word, “stoic.”) But this article is all about leadership. It’s a wonderful survey of guide stars. I’m particularly fond of the idea that a leader doesn’t make things worse.

My bias towards taking action… my urge to make a change to make things better… far too often I make things worse. If my life had an omniscient narrator, there’d be a lot of scenes that start with, “Here Craig forgot a hard won lesson. Despite not having a clear idea how to help, he still put his two cents in.” (Cue slow-motion footage of car crash unfolding. Cut to black. Roll end credits.)

ɕ