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Leadership: Collaboration or Debate?

March 19th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Potpourri

This entry has been stewing for quite a while. Almost three decades, I would almost-but-not-quite argue.

I don’t debate. I have considered joining debate teams and clubs in the past, but something always kept me from doing so. It has taken me years to figure out what that something was, and now I have it: certainty.

I am certain that I don’t posses the conscious skill of manipulation necessary to purposely win a staged argument with another intelligent person.

I am also certain that I am too needy to risk losing the respect of people (hint: it’s almost everyone) I care about by embarking on a crusade to convince them that the way they think is wrong.

Lastly (but not finally), I am certain that the few talents I do possess are much better areas in which to focus my time than squaring off against other opinionated and certain human beings.

My favorite leaders in fantasy all exhibit this certainty to varying degrees. In no purposely particular order, Spock, Bones, Kirk, and Picard, though not immune to the attraction of a good argument now and then, ultimately rely on the collaboration of their trusted company above the outcome of carefully scored debate. If you can spot the possible exception among the four — the one of these things that ain’t like the other — then you’ve probably figured out why he’s my favorite character of the bunch, and I’ll fix you up a mint julep as a reward, you green-blooded son of a bitch.

I know I may have lost some of you there. Some people just aren’t wired to absorb the real-world inspiration I and so many other nerds glean from that admittedly cheesy and unbelievable future conceived by Roddenberry, complicated (not altogether negatively) by Berman & Pals, and supported by so many other big-name nobodies. I get that. Even take comfort in it. An obsession adopted universally is virtually indistinguishable from religious fundamentalism, and in my world that dog might hunt, but I won’t truck with it.

Regardless of whether you think Star Trek has made our world a better place, I’m the captain. I’ll admit that my ship usually has a complement of one, but I am certain that one is enough to make good things happen. This is not at odds with the idea that the good of the many outweighs the needs of the few. Or the one.

This all sounds a bit too egocentric, even to me, so I’m going to give it a rest for a while. However, I propose that moderate egocentricity is not intrinsically sinful. Nor is it a synonym for narcissism. Put your thesaurus away; it will lie to you if you trust it above your friends. The best advances in art and science came about because an egocentric person or group decided to stop being a starving, self-defensive genius and release at least a little bit of that ego upon the world in an effectively selfless manner. Be good to others without losing the ability to be good to yourself. Losing ground on either side of that has all kinds of possible outcomes that are decidedly bad for all. Remain conscious of the possibility of such unnecessary outcomes as cobainism, hensonism, godwinism, or possibly even the aforementioned fundamentalism. Take care of yourself and yours, support others when you can, and just tolerate the rest.

Don’t hate: actuate!

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