The center tent in the camp - the Commander's Tent - is often the largest, most spacious, most well-guarded, and the center of attention.
A lot of people see that, and want it.
They say, "I want the largest tent."
They say, "I want the most spacious tent."
They say, "I want the most security."
They say, "I want to be the center of attention."
But they've got it entirely backwards.
Command - at least, good command - winds up in the center tent after having cultivated the ability to serve their entire side's needs, and thus the commander winds up taking up the burden of command on him. His quarters are the largest to accommodate a variety of messengers, dignitaries, and officers. The high security is because if command is destroyed, the army is likely to collapse and everyone is doomed.
You come into the center of attention by being the most worthy to lead, and leading well. That gets you the center tent.
But -- and here's the damnest thing about it -- command is lonely, a burden few understand, and fewer still would want if they understood it. Most of the greatest leaders in history, if you actually read their private papers and sayings, were grateful for the ability to move the world forwards, but also highlight a certain feeling of burden that few can or would try to understand.
And yet -- the philosophical, action-oriented person who has the ability to lead, often starts leading. People build around them. Their quarters expand to accommodate more visitors, and slowly the camp becomes ordered around command.
Saying -- "Ah! The center! Yes, that looks nice!" misses the point. There's no chance of reaching it, if you think like that. Rather, you begin to serve, and serve well, you train and discipline yourself, you take care of everyone's needs. And then you wind up at the center of things, with all the good and ill that entails.
Perhaps the best leaders lead not because they wish to, but because they must, or because they feel compelled to.
Wow! Great post. Too many people put the cart before the horse. I've recently observed the misguided thinking in myself. Thanks Sebastian!
Great content as usual seb. Something I miss about the old design was the search bar. With blogs I read I'm a fan of archived content and I never remember the name of the post so I usually type in keywords I remember to find it. Something you might want to bring back.
People seem to want a lot of things :)
It always blows my mind when I witness people's perspectives that contain such disconnects between purpose and appearance as you outline here.
I believe the point also runs into the general malaise of people wishing for all the power and none of the associated responsibility and feeling entitled to it and being surprised when it "doesn't work that way".
To take the point even a little further, those with such a mental disconnect may universally be unhappy as they never reach the goal posts of success, and they don't even understand why. TV could be blamed or something...
Great point Seb. I love how you turn the standard view of what a leader is on its head by reminding us that they got there by serving rather than leading.
Good questions from a reader -
There are some questions I want to ask you about the shogun era.
Why didn't the generals around Tokugawa Ieyasu aim for more power?
What were their end game?
"We need to take this, ok?"
The nighttime receptionist didn't know what to say. I had just grabbed the poinsetta plant from her desk and before she could reply we were already halfway to the door.
"Well, I guess..."