You Gotta Bleed to Lead

I write this blog post in response to Alexis Collado’s blog post found at this link: http://acstudios.asia/2013/08/21/to-be-a-leader/

 


Reading about student leadership from a Lourdesian perspective compelled me to look back on how I yearned to grow as a person and as a leader.  Nostalgia is such a bittersweet pill to take during this time when I just finished my college degree… yet it feels that high school is just weeks away.

What Alexis wrote in his blog brought my psyche back to my high school times, but this time I am armed by experience and wisdom.  To give structure to this blog post, I’d like to dwell on Alexis’s “3 Types of Student Leaders”.

Onto the first point!

I’d like to believe that I am an introverted leader.

After reading Susan Cain’s “Quiet”, I came to appreciate the gifts of being an introvert.  Funny thing is, most people would think that “leadership” and “introvert” should never be joined in a sentence.  Who would blame them for thinking that way?

When we speak of leaders, we think of the charismatic communicators, the politicians, the debaters.  “The Extrovert Ideal”, as Susan Cain expounded.

But as we know, dogs who bark the loudest do not automatically mean they bite the strongest.

No disrespect to the natural, charismatic, and inspiring extroverts but the glorification of having to be greatly great at public speaking led to the proliferation of know-it-alls eager to show the world how they’re better than anyone.  How their confidence and way with words can lead to “wingin’ it” and still managing to impress.

As MarkProfers would harshly say to those know-it-alls, especially during group case studies wherein only a select few will be chosen among the team, “Know when to speak up and know when to shut up.

That elated the introvert in me, once I heard my MarkProf seniors say those! I was happy that somehow, amidst the glorification of the “Extrovert Ideal”, there are people who recognize sugarcoated nonsense versus flavorful delivery of authentic content.

As a student leader then, especially back in high school, I admit that I thought I lacked the guts to always speak up and be the ruthless autocrat.  Then I realized, I just preferred to let my actions do the talking.

My most memorable high school leadership moments were revolved on I being the captain ball of our basketball varsity team, once leading the juniors, and the other time leading the seniors.

Leading a basketball team is hard, because pressure is on the leader to deliver.  To make things worse, I am not as athletic as my teammates and was really not the best player on the team.  I felt inadequate for the role, and I attempted to give up the position.  I talked to my coach.  After some days, he talked to me again and said that I am doing just fine, and thus he would not allow me to give up the position.

I was confused then.  What am I supposed to do?  As an introvert, I did not want to be the “bossy” kind of captain or the disciplinarian. Then I realized, all along, the answer was there.  No need for facades or masks.  Just work hard.  Or work harder than anyone.  I knew that I am in no way the best player in my team, but as the captain, I should be the last one to give up or disobey the coach’s instructions.

Lead the conditioning everyday, lead the stretching, surpass my limits, but most importantly, let my teammates, who I knew were better than me, shine.  I need not score, we had plenty of slashers and scorers in the group.  Focus on the little things, dying for the loose ball, not backing down, and most of all, just trying to live and speak through examples.

Onto the next point!

Alexis mentions cocky leadership in his blog post, while I reframe it as “inner hubris”.

There were select unfortunate times, wherein I felt I was better doing things alone than in the group, especially if the group I belonged with were full of the dreaded free-loaders. But hubris is such a powerful negative trait to have, even if I did not dare display such arrogance.  It was a double-edged sword: I had the belief that as long as I poured my effort and focus on something, I did not need to have teammates at all.

But God is such a good God.  He made me realize that in college, everything’s a whole new level.  Standards are much higher, and workloads are much heavier.  In the vernacular, binatukan Niya ako.  I said hellos to accounting and quantitative subjects I almost failed, if not for the mercy of teachers or the miracles of God.

Since then, I knew I gotta recognize my limits.  Since then, the “inner hubris” transformed into a prayer.  Asking God, or if possible forcing God to smack me in the head and pull me back hard to the ground the moment I think that I’m greater than anyone.  Because at the end of the day, the most sincere way to lead is to recognize that one is a flawed being needing the help of others as well – granting them permissions to shine so as to create a culture of interdependence pushing each other up instead of pulling each other down.

And it all boils down to the last point, knowing one’s self; being at peace with one’s self.

There’s no such as thing as the absolutely perfect leader; there’s only the relatively perfect leader.  Contexts change, and times change.  I realized that introverts can lead in their own way, and need not force one’s self to become the overly-glorified “extrovert ideal”.

We are in the eternal journey towards perfection, each representing a particular fragment of image and likeness of God.  We traverse different roads, yet leading to the same destination.

One must bleed to lead, bathe in his own blood and discover one’s own leadership style.  Masks and cookie-cutter prescriptions are supposed to be just guides, not to be dogmas to be forced to anyone’s throat.

Blood, sweat, and tears are the prices one pay to truly experience the essence of servant leadership.  We will all have our own versions, our own stories, our own hero’s journeys.   We will be followers, we will be leaders.

But we gotta bleed often, and instead of cursing God for the pain, thank Him instead.

Bleeding while leading is a sign that we’re following the footsteps of the true leaders who literally died for our sake.

History’s ink in writing our legacies will be the blood we offer in pursuit of true, authentic, servant leadership.

Dreamlist – The Gifts of a Quarter-life Crisis

Courtesy of Dreamlist.ph

This was the article I have written for Dreamlist.ph.  You can also access the article here.

 


Away from the sound of the partying bass, the tipsiness from the booze, and the good side of the typical college rollercoaster ride comes the inevitable hangover.  Suddenly, after living it up while chanting YOLO one realizes that yes, we all live once, but a lifetime is a one long period to live.   This realization creeps in a metaphorical hangover that leads asking basic, but hard questions to answer.

What am I to do with my life?  What is my niche in this society, or this world even?  How will my love life be in the future? Will I continue to depend on my family for me to live?  Will I get my dream job or dream career?  Welcome to the quarter-life crisis.

Most people, when hearing the word crisis, think how it seems to be a big, scary word that no rational person would want to take part of.  Contrary to intuition, a quarter-life crisis at the soonest possible time is one of the greatest blessings in disguise we can have.  Here are gifts we can personally receive as we tackle our personal crises.

 

The gift of clarity and vision

It can make us continuously re-question where we want to be decades from now, and consider our desires to leave legacies.  In my case, I envisioned a world where business persons and entrepreneurs become stewards not just of economic prosperity, but creating social value through innovation.  However, to get there, I decided that ditching the traditional corporate track and aspiring career involvements in education, research, and eventually social entrepreneurship is the fit for my personal agendas.

 

The gift of defining priorities

I do not want to give up precious time with family, friends, and loved ones.  Yes, I definitely want to be rich, but not at the expense of society and my family.  This gift forces us to stay true to what prices we are willing to pay for the visions we want to achieve.  We should never give up the greatest yet priceless commodities we have – values.

 

The gift of mission, purpose, and advocacies

We all want money, fame, glory and power.  I do not see anything wrong about that as long it doesn’t harm anyone.  What makes life worth living is doing something for a personal mission.  Nothing beats doing concrete things to make the world a better place.

 

The gift of “innovative idealism” with the guts to take a leap of faith

The greatest disservice one can do to one’s self is to forsake realizing dreams for financial security.  However, forsaking financial security for the pursuit of dreams is just as unfair.  Tackling a quarter-life crisis forces one to stay true to ideals and personal missions, while recognizing the need for money and material things.  It takes guts to innovate, take a leap of faith, and pursue both material wealth and creating good for society.  This is hard, but not impossible.  The sweet spot between being practical and ideal is being innovative.

I firmly believe that those who will embrace this crisis will find the freedom to fulfill one’s biggest dreams and goals.  Because running away just leads to settling and leading a life filled with regret; while resolving personal crises lead to the path of guts and eventually, glory.

Embrace your personal quarter-life crisis and receive its gifts worth treasuring forever. The fulfillment of dreams is only reserved for those who have the guts to pursue them.

 

At the Convergence of Dualistic Natures

Courtesy of Google Images

This blog post is directly lifted from one of my reflections on a paper I have read.

Perhaps the insight that struck me the most is that managers, whether under business, academe, public, or any organizations, have complex motivations, goals, and objectives.  After all, managers are human beings with different wants and needs.

Stripping down the titles and labels, human beings at their core already have complex and conflicting desires.  When at their lowest and the need for survival is imminent, we recognize the mentality of the needy called “kapit sa patalim”, wherein they will do almost, if not, everything for themselves and the betterment of their family, even at the expense of others.  Ironically, when people are at their highest and as you quoted in your paper, people with power tend to be corrupted.  Maybe these people’s characteristics revolve more on self-preservation at all costs.

There are also human beings, such as genuine public servants and social entrepreneurs who truly practice the Christian “servant leadership”.  Perhaps these people value selflessness more and giving value to society.

I have always pondered on the complexity of human behavior, particularly on the dualistic natures that exist in us.  To cite a few examples, idealism vs pragmatism, helping society vs making profits, subjective vs objective.  The easy way for these things is to isolate a half, and use them as exclusive lenses in viewing the world.  We create assumptions that disregard the other half of the “dualistic nature”.  This has advantages and disadvantages, but I’d like to focus on the disadvantages.

By constricting ourselves too much within one frame of mind or assumption, we commit the error of disregarding the whole truth – dualistic natures need NOT be mutually exclusive; there are plenty of overlaps.  I remember my Unilever internship wherein my supervisor told us in the culminating presentation that ethics IS black and white; but until now I respectfully disagree.  There are always gray areas, and there will always be because human beings are innately relative, innately subjective.

Tying all of these thoughts to your paper, I can sense multiple hats in you that compelled you to do action – both as a “rational” and “irrational” manager, and as a compassionate human being.

Rational, in the sense that a manager or chair must do what is best to reach the bottom-line (in this case, to serve students at the least cost possible), compelled you to act perhaps due to the fact that the inefficiencies of the predicament of secretaries affected faculty workflow and serving the needs of the students.  If I may rightfully borrow economics thinking, solving this problem is the logical thing to do to smoothen out inefficiencies and help the department “serve its customers better”.  You eliminated the “cost” of inefficiencies by acting on this manner.  Moreover, this stayed true to the dept’s thrust of “Bridging Faith and Management Practice”.

However, in an “irrational” perspective, if I may again take the liberty to use these terms, the ff insights may surface.  It is “irrational” to “waste” time solving this problem when you could have stay put and focused on doing research and preparing lesson plans.  It is “irrational” to hire secretaries as full-time vs contractual as they add cost, in a purely economic perspective.  But still, you acted “irrationally” and had the initiative to care for your fellow even though it will cost you precious time and energy.

To conclude my reflections and synthesizing what I have realized in your example, managers and human beings are better moved to do things that are mutually beneficial for themselves and others when placed in the gray areas, where dualistic natures converge.  Perhaps there must be motivations from both an “idealistic” and “pragmatic” side that are compelling enough to move beyond the boundaries of rational thinking, beyond the boundaries of our preset defaults.

Glorifying the Lifestyle of Kings

Courtesy of Google Images

At the wake of the very controversial pork barrel scam, there have been a flood of reactions and exposes that can be found in different websites and blogs (I’m taking the liberty to direct you to a blog that is filled with very engaging comments about this issue.  Click here).

On a somewhat different note away from the activism being thrown all around, I was left thinking about this issue: how can people stomach practicing downright avarice, greed, and lust for money amidst the existence of world’s pressing social problems?  Is the concept of conscience dead already?

One thought that keeps on reoccurring in my mind is the glorification of a king’s lifestyle, from way back the time when monarchy and slavery were the dominant system of this planet.

Looking at this vantage view, who would not want to be kings and queens?  Who would not want living an extravagant life?  Who would not want to live in a world where you’re the protagonist and all the other persons’ sole purpose is to make your life greater at their expense?

This can be seen by the continuous patronage of media to the lifestyle of stars, “living the life”, as they would show.  At this point, I am not anymore certain whether it is the fault of the viewers for wanting to view programs featuring lavish lifestyles; or the fault of media for continuously feeding this to the masses.

Perhaps, our society has been glorifying the lavish lifestyle of kings too much.

But is it not time to rethink our purpose?

Should we imitate and emulate a lifestyle of kings, why not trying to live the life of the Christian King?  No, I am not talking about living a life of religious hypocrisy; I am talking about what the Christian faith stands for in essence – servant leadership.

Maybe all these are happening so that people may begin to go back to what is really more important.  Yes, money is power.  Yes, money can almost buy every material thing in life.

But money can never be an enough price to pay for fulfilling a benevolent dream capable of self-actualization.

Money alone cannot realize our Personal Legends.

And most of all, the kings we remember are not the ones who were the richest in money.  We remember those who made our lives richer through lessons and leadership by example.

Please, let us stop glorifying the lavish lifestyle of Kings of the Material.  What we should glorify is the humble lifestyle of the King who made a positive, memorable difference to our world.