We all admire leadership.
No matter which way we look, we see the glorification of leadership- in art, in politics, in religion, and in literature. And yet only rarely do we witness leadership in person. This is partially because the value of real leadership is recognized most easily in times of crisis. However, there is another problem, which is that people often fail to differentiate leadership from a related skill set- and that is management.
Leadership and management are two very different things. And we make a grave mistake if we use the two terms interchangeably. For when we lead, we go first, and must inspire others to follow; when we merely manage, that inspirational element is pressed into the background- if it continues to exist at all. Managers need not go first; they can safely direct their troops from behind- but that is not leadership; that is something else entirely.
The desire for leadership is deeply imbedded within us. It is a tribal pattern; it is grounded in our shared ancestral environment- one of risk, danger, and scarcity. Leadership was necessary because without it, the tribe would perish. No matter how democratic we become as a global society, those old patterns do not just vanish.
They persist; they drive our behavior still.
Those in positions of authority would do well to remember this because the degree to which they able to embody authentic leadership has a profound effect on hiring, retaining employees, and maximizing efficiency. Leadership affects morale; it affects group cohesion- what in French is referred to as l'esprit de corps. This in turn has an effect on success- both in terms of profit and in terms of production. So we would do well to remember that while managing sometimes feels dehumanizing to those being managed- who sometimes feel that they have been reduced to "a cog in a machine"-, leadership is quintessentially humanizing. Why? Because when we lead, we require others to follow us voluntarily.
The leader goes first; he goes whether he is followed or not- and others in turn must choose whether to follow him or not.
When we lead, we run the risk of going it alone- and the fact that leaders are willing to take that risk is precisely why we admire those willing to take it. And so the only difference between the loner and the leader is that others have chosen to follow the leader; in every other respect, they are nearly identical. But what inspires people to follow? What qualities define leadership, and inspire others to join the loner on his journey- and thus transform him from a loner into a leader?
There are many qualities that are common to leaders, but essentially there are three that are most critical:
We all have our place in the world; not everybody needs to be a leader. But if we choose to lead, we must possess at least the seeds of these elements, and perhaps even more importantly, we must be willing to continually cultivate these qualities within ourselves. Leaders hold themselves to a higher standards than they hold others to; this is what justifies following them in the first place: Not only do they talk the talk; they also walk the walk, and they walk it better than they expect others to walk it. This is inspirational: It inspires others not only to follow the leader, but even more importantly, it inspires others to become better than they are. And so the leader is, in some sense, a kind of image of a higher ideal, which inspires us to become something better.
Leadership is more than a privilege; it is also an enormous burden. Because when we take upon ourselves a position of authority, we take the wellbeing of others in our hands. This should not be taken lightly. Leadership is more than a privilege; it is also an incredible responsibility.
But the world needs leaders, and so it is necessary nonetheless. And in today's egalitarian society, it may be even more important- if only because it is more rare and thus more precious than it has ever been in the past.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
The Five Questions is the fifth section of ZenTactics, but can be used along with the fourth section (the Four Domains) as a simplified protocol in and of itself.
[NOTE: It would be best to be well-acquainted with the Four Domains before moving on to the Five Questions.]
Assuming that we intend on developing ourselves 1. with a clear "why" in mind, and 2. in a balanced fashion- that is, according to the Four Domains-, we must be careful to chart our course with clarity. What that means is to always keep the goal in sight, to not deviate, to not allow ourselves to become distracted by trivialities. After all, most people fail for one of three reasons: Either they do not know what they want (they lack a "why"), or they fail to achieve efficiency (they remain unbalanced), or they fail to formulate a workable strategy (they allow themselves to quit, or to deviate from the path they have chosen). Another possibility, of course, is that they surround themselves with individuals that do not share their worldview- but this will not happen if they are clear on the other three points.
So let us assume we have a "why;" furthermore, let us assume we have a balanced approach, that allows us to maximize our effectiveness in achieving our goals. What now?
The Five Questions can help us to sustain focus and clarity so that we do not become distracted; the Five Questions are as follows:
We will consider each of these in turn, but must remember that our goal should always be to align all the aspects of our lives so that they all serve a singular purpose, which is the flourishing of each of us as individuals. The goal is lifestyle cohesion. Everything in the world today is fragmented; this results in us being torn in various directions simultaneously, which is not only exhausting but also a wildly ineffective environment for achieving success. We must consciously work against this trend in the modern world- towards simplicity and away from complexity.
If we keep the Five Questions in mind, we should be able to remain focused on our objectives, which will result in better and more frequent success.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
The Four Quarters is the fourth section of ZenTactics, but can be used along with the fifth section (the Five Questions) as a simplified protocol in and of itself.
Some background theory may be in order...
Although we tend to think of ourselves as unified individuals, the truth is much more complex than that: We are not a unified identity; we are a collection of somewhat-related sub-routines, which all run quasi-independently under the banner of each individual's identity- his "I." For our purposes, we will consider this "I" to be our sense of unified identity, which is itself an amalgamation of "the id" or "the ego," and what I refer to as "the eidolon," and which is more limited in scope than what we will refer to here as "the true self" (the goal of psychology is not to reveal this true self but rather to create this true self, because its creation is neither easy nor inevitable). Thus, "the I" is something like a mask or persona, which is itself constructed of the aforementioned aspects:
[NOTE: Freud spoke of the id, the ego, and the super-ego. I purposely refer to the eidolon rather than the super-ego in order to be clear that the eidolon represents an ideal, and is not a construction of social convention, as Freud seemed sometimes to imply. Thus, the eidolon is akin to a Jungian archetype; it is neither merely a moral construct nor merely a social construct.]
Now, although each of these has a purpose, still each must be constrained by all others. So the goal is balance; the purpose of the Four Quarters is to ensure this balance. And we accomplish this by cultivating our inner potential in four directions simultaneously: the Tribal, the Personal, the Professional, and the Psycho-spiritual:
When we plan out our lives (plans that will almost certainly have to be adjusted over time, yet we cannot proceed into the unknown with no direction whatsoever), we must take into account all four of these domains. If we do not do this, we become monsters of a particular aspect, and this will inevitably result in the long-term erosion of agency, efficacy, and efficiency. But why? Because each aspect of personality relies on each other aspect of personality.
For example, let us say that we have health problems: If we do not develop our Tribal aspect, we will feel isolated and alienated, and this will destroy our motivation; if we do not develop our Professional aspect, perhaps we will not have either the time or the money to dedicate ourselves to a beneficial program of health; if we do not develop our Psycho-spiritual aspect, whatever benefit we gain from our plans will feel hollow and without meaning.
For another example, let us say that we want to reach the next level in business: If we do not develop our Tribal aspect, it will be difficult to network or to build the connections necessary to succeed; if we do not develop our Personal aspect, perhaps our health will fail, which will result in sub-optimal performance at both the mental level and at the physical level; if we do not develop our Psycho-spiritual aspect, again, whatever benefit we gain from our plans will feel hollow and without meaning.
These are just two examples, but of course any number of examples could be imagined.
What is really critical in personal development- and what the vast majority of personal development systems fail to take into account- is the critical importance of balance to the human being. We are not singular beings; rather, it is almost as though we are many individual beings trying (often ineffectively) to work together as one. Therefore, we must consciously direct this four-fold development. If we do not, the failures of one domain will destroy our sense of balance, and this will wreak havoc on our desire to optimize the other three domains.
~ Joshua van Asakinda
Joshua van Asakinda is a master-level psychological consultant, and the creator of ZenTactics, Heroic Theory, & Zenshida'i Silat-Serak.