We find ourselves, in the middle of 2019, living in a completely unfiltered world. It was, until recently, a world reserved for people who had neurological impairments caused by dementia, mental illness, tumors and cancer, or neurosurgery that was imposed in the dark ages of neuroscience (frontal lobotomies) or that went wrong (even the best neurosurgeons make mistakes).

Now, however, almost everyone, regardless neurological function and cognitive abilities, has  taken up residence in this world. 

How did we get here? What happened? What does it look like? And how do quintessential leaders behave amid this sea of unfilteredness?

For those of us born before 1980, we know what a filtered world looks like. It’s where we grew up. We were taught that not everything that comes to mind or pops into your head is something you should do or say (or write). In fact, most of us were even taught that you really shouldn’t even indulge a lot of unfiltered thinking, because it eventually leads to unfiltered behavior.

For those of us pre-1980 kids, we probably all remember a friend or two who were the exception to the rule and were completely unfiltered. It, once upon a time, could be quite shocking.

About nine years ago, as my own mom was increasingly showing signs of cognitive impairment related to dementia and her filters were beginning to be compromised, I remember telling a friend of mine who had no filter that I couldn’t imagine how much worse she was going to be if she ever developed dementia or that maybe no one would be able to tell the difference.

We both laughed, not knowing that in a few short years, most people, including many people born before 1980, would happily and willingly ditch their neurological filters and jump headlong into a world that before no one wanted to live in.

It can be quite amazing to discover how gullible the human race is and easily we just follow the crowd, not necessarily realizing that a major shift has occurred, into new “normals.” Social media has been and is the  one of the Pied Pipers who has led so many of us here.

I’m an IT person and I know the potential value of social media if it’s used constructively and productively, so I’m not dissing technology. Instead, my issue is with what we’ve done with technology and how it has changed what we do and what we say.

A general lack of self-discipline is the other Pied Piper responsible for this societal shift. For those of us who were taught better and know better, we have chosen to abandon our foundation. And, for the rest, they were never taught self-discipline, so they don’t know any better.

Therefore, as people, in general, have either dismissed or are completely ignorant of a modicum of civility and respect toward other – all other – people, they have embraced lies, hate, rudeness, cursing, and violence.

Take a moment to read through your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feeds. Look for civility and respect toward all members of the human race.

You didn’t find it, did you? That’s because we’ve removed all the filters and we say and do whatever comes to mind or, more importantly, we express the darkness that exists in our human hearts.

We all have darkness in our hearts. That includes those of us who are striving to become quintessential leaders.

But here’s what quintessential leaders do that is totally out of step with an unfiltered world. First, we are aware of our hearts of darkness. We actively search for those dark areas and examine them regularly. Then, we strive to remove them and replace them with light.

 Unfiltered words and actions are directly tied to emotional impulses. We all have emotional reactions to things. Some of those are good, but some are not. The difference between an unfiltered world and a filtered word is the inability or ability to step back from our emotions and take the time to engage logic, which is objective knowledge and understanding.

This is the heart of a lack of wisdom or abundant wisdom. Quintessential leaders strive for abundant wisdom, because we understand that the things we say and do impact other people and we have a responsibility to do what’s best for them, regardless of how we feel or what our rights may be.

We fail sometimes and the fall is great. But in the fall, we determine to get back up, figure out what we did wrong, correct it, and try again.

Recently, someone left a comment here that said, “Whoever wrote this is a nut case.” Yes, it annoyed me initially. But, as a writer, that’s part of what you have have to deal when you’re dealing in the public arena in an unfiltered world. I could have ripped the person to shreds, but that would have been the wrong response. Instead, I said nothing and simply chose not to approve the comment for publication.

Quintessential leaders have an obligation to step back. We are examples, whether we are leading a team of one or a team of 500, whether it’s at home, at work, at social activities, or at religious assemblies.

Somebody is watching us We may not even know that they are. And they’re learning from us and emulating our behavior. 

What are they learning?

What are they emulating?

How are we doing?

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