Posts Tagged ‘discernment’

An example of ubiquity and mass appeal in Facebook's French flag app after the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacksAfter the terrorist attack in Paris on November 13, 2015, Facebook immediately came out with an app that let its users superimpose the French flag over their profile pictures to ostensibly show solidarity with France and Paris. (more…)

Quintessential leaders continue to learn and educate themselves all their livesThe day a human being – other than teenagers, who don’t know any better – decides they know it all and there is nothing else to learn or no reason to continue educating themselves is the day they die from the inside out.

When people in leadership positions do this, they become foolish, ignorant, and irrelevant, fit for nothing more than to go live as a hermit in a cave somewhere.

Because when people in leadership positions stop learning and stop educating themselves, they become useless.

We live in a world where ego breeds ignorance in people in leadership positions. Increasingly, this triumph of ego over knowledge (I’ve discussed this before) is applauded, embraced, and endorsed.

When this egotism and ignorance is in people in leadership positions, two things happen.

Ignorance starts when learning and education stopsFor the majority of people impacted by them, an increase in gullibility (engendered by each of these people’s failure to continue to learn and educate themselves, preferring instead to let media and technology appeal to their baser – and ignorant – natures and give them neatly-packaged, but erroneous, talking points they can parrot) leads the majority just to accept whatever they hear as being true. Ignorance, then, perpetuates itself throughout society.

For the minority of people who are continuing to learn and educate themselves, these people in leadership positions lose their respect and their trust. And they lose this minority of people who either internally, first, and physically, eventually, walk away from them for good.

I’ll give a real-life example of this kind of ignorance because I hear and have heard statements about this over and over.

Not long ago, a person in a leadership position was talking to a group of people, which I was among. The person told the group that President George W. Bush didn’t know anything about the threat of attacks on 9/11/01 just like President Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t know anything about the threat of attack on Pearl Harbor.

I sat there in disbelief because because both statements were totally false and if this person who is in a leadership position had continued learning and educating themselves, they would have never made those statements.

History has revealed that both presidents were well aware that the respective attacks were not only probable, but imminent. They chose to ignore that information because the attacks would give them the go-ahead to do what they would not be able to do any other way.

President RooseveltIn President Roosevelt’s case, the only way the United States could get into World War II officially (it had already been unofficially involved since the late 1930’s) with the support of the American people was if America was attacked. Therefore, the attack on Pearl Harbor was his (and his advisors’) ticket into the global conflict.

In President Bush’s case, one of his objectives was to finish the job in Iraq – killing Saddam Hussein – that had been unfinished when the Gulf War (August 1990 – February 1991) ended.

President BushHe couldn’t just go attack, so he had to find a way to be in the Middle East. Al Qaeda’s uptick in activity and increased direct threats to the United States gave President Bush (and his advisors) the promise of an open door to complete his ultimate objective. When the attack came, the door opened.

Perhaps it’s hard to believe that a country would let its own people die in order the meet other objectives.

However, anyone who is continuing to learn and continuing their education – which includes history – will know that’s been the story of humanity.

Ignorance of the truth of our story as a species leads to more ignorance about our story in all its organizational contexts and ignorance about our story as individuals. The net effect is that we have no clue about the big picture and we believe lies and perpetuate them.

Because quintessential leaders keep the big picture in mind all the time, they know they don’t know everything about everything, and they know that ignorance breeds lies (quintessential leaders value and ensure, to the best of their abilities, truth in everything), quintessential leaders never stop learning and they never stop educating themselves. 


As anybody whose been through both the K-12 and higher educational systems in the United States knows very little learning and education happens in the process.

Much of what is taught are the propagated lies and sheer memorization of them (there are exceptions to this and I was fortunate enough to have a handful of educators along the way who were exceptions, just as I was fortunate enough to have parents who put a high premium on lifelong learning and education).

We come out of these systems with necessary pieces of paper, but, in most cases, very little real education and knowledge.

And that is when quintessential leaders embark on their lifelong quest for learning and education.

Quintessential leaders read widely. They read the classics (quality fiction), but mostly they read non-fiction on a wide variety of topics of substance.

Quintessential leaders know how to test and prove or disprove what they read. The more a person reads (and I’m talking about spending quiet and focused hours, not skimming something on Reading widely and substantively leads to a lifetime of learning and educationthe internet and saying you read it) the better they become at discernment and at being able to determine what is true and what is not.

Quintessential leaders know how to think about and apply what they read because what they’ve learned stays with them and becomes a part of their collective reserve of information and their behavior.

Because quintessential leaders are well-read, they are very attuned to verbal inconsistencies and outright verbal ignorance.

Without that learning and educational process continuing, quintessential leaders would be susceptible to believing everything they hear (or read), because discernment, understanding, and knowledge is absent.

As always, we must, as quintessential leaders, look at our own lives to see whether we are on a journey of lifelong learning and education.

Therefore, we need to ask ourselves some questions:

  • Do we read?
  • If we’re not reading, why not?
  • If we read, do we read widely and substantively, or do we read “easy reads” and “fluff?”
  • If we read, can we compare what we’re reading with other things we’ve heard or read and know which is true or whether some or none is true?
  • If we read, does it change our lives because we learn something we didn’t know or we gain a different understanding of something we thought we knew?

If we are not committed to and actively pursuing a lifelong commitment to learning and educating ourselves, then we are not quintessential leaders.

How are we doing?



U.S. Bill of Rights 1st Amendment to the Constitution“But it’s my right!”

“I can say whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want, to whomever I want and nobody can stop me. I have rights!”

“I’m entitled to my opinion and if you don’t like it, then you just need to get over it!”

Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, then you must be accessing this post from a desert island where you’ve been cut off from the rest of civilization for the last 50 years.

Welcome to The Quintessential Leader blog, to the year 2015, and to present reality.

This post will discuss not only what freedom of speech looks like in quintessential leaders, but it will show how quintessential leaders decide what to say or write and what not to say or write.

This is a relevant and important topic especially because it seems where we are most able to determine whether we are quintessential leaders or not today is to look at our speech in cyberspace: emails, texts, social media, and blogs.

We can all talk a good game, but it’s often here where the truth behind all that talk is revealed. 

Quintessential leaders understand, first and foremost, that every word they speak or write is a reflection of who and what they are from the inside out.

In other words, how quintessential leaders exercise their freedom of speech reflects their character.

Therefore, quintessential leaders are very thoughtful before they commit words to speech or in writing.

While quintessential leaders may technically have the right to say or write anything, anywhere, anytime, they always ask the first right question – “Should I?” – right off the bat.

That eliminates a lot of speech and writing before any other analysis needs to be done.

If, however, further analysis needs to be done, quintessential leaders use the overarching principles of building trust and being trustworthy – forged through experience and wisdom – to identify the criteria that their words must be filtered through and determined against before they are said or written.

Quintessential leaders discern the intent of the words they are considering speaking or writingOne of those criteria that quintessential leaders use to determine whether to say or write something is intent.

Is it demeaning or denigrating to other people? Does it contain words like idiotmoronstupidretard?

Those are the most common demeaning and denigrating words used, but there are many others.

If it contains any of these kinds of words, quintessential leaders will reject them from what they speak or what they write or share or endorse.

Is it argumentative? For those of us who have used the internet since it became available to the masses, we remember the term flame wars to describe speech that was intended to be argumentative.

Flame wars were – and still are – started by someone who wants a speech melee and often consists of speech that is so outrageous and offensive that an all-out war ensues. And, once the war starts, nothing is out of bounds, and all the speech goes downhill from there.

Quintessential leaders reject argumentative speech. They will not initiate it, nor will they engage in it. 

Is it inciting? There are many things that divide humanity today and because we, as a species, are all up in arms about “our rights,” there’s an ample supply of inciting topics to speak or write about.

Inciting is the same thing as baiting. It’s a come-hither designed to provoke a strong emotional reaction that will lead to a response in terms of action (usually negative).

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015 was the result of inciting cartoons the publication repeatedly and intentionally created (and I am in no way defending or sanctioning retribution of this sort or any other: quintessential leaders don’t pay back or get even because that would be inconsistent with their character; instead, they forgive and move away from and move beyond the offenders), knowing what the impact would be.

But look anywhere in the world of technology – emails, texts, social media, and blogs – all over the globe and it abounds everywhere. Look at your newsfeed on Facebook today – July 22, 2015 – and look at all the posts about “rights” that are intentionally inciting that fill your page.

Quintessential leaders reject all speech, written or spoken, that is inciting. It has no place in what they write or say or share or endorse.

Quintessential leaders determine the appropriateness of the words they speak and writeAnother criteria that quintessential leaders use to evaluate the words they speak and write is appropriateness.

There are several aspects of appropriateness that get overlooked in the speech that we write and we speak.

Is it vulgarsuggestive, or profanity-laden? If it is, then quintessential leaders will reject it outright from the words they write and the words they speak.

But here’s a nuance of this that a lot of people simply don’t filter and this really makes quintessential leaders stand out as exceptions. 

While the content itself is not vulgar, suggestive, or profanity-laden, in the case of sharing or endorsing on social media, the site it’s being shared from is. It never ceases to amaze me how much of this happens on a regular basis.

Quintessential leaders look at everything and if there is anything anywhere that is inappropriate, they reject it completely as acceptable speech.

Quintessential leaders analyze the impact of the words they speak and writeA final criteria that quintessential leaders use regarding speech is its impact.

Is it disrespectful? Disrespect is commonplace in our society. Although at times its impact is supposed to be diminished by characterizing disrespect as a joke, in the end it is still disrespect.

There are many ways to disrespect others, but speech that impugns motives not in evidence, that points out personal and private flaws and issues, that condemns obliquely (the person/people being condemned is/are unnamed), and that viciously attacks people who are unable to defend themselves (this is bullying, by the way, and adults do it just as much, if not more than, as kids do) are the most common forms of disrespect.

While quintessential leaders may address big-picture issues and things they find legitimate fault with and/or disagree with in the speech they use in writing and speaking, they are always careful to show respect in these areas. When we stop being decent human beings to each other, then we cannot claim to be quintessential leaders.

Is it libelous? Speech that directly attacks another human being by name – quintessential leaders don’t do this because the reality is that none of us can really be inside the head, the heart, the soul of another person and it’s always wise to give the benefit of doubt – is never a good idea.

For a lot of reasons.

First, even if there’s no legal action taken, we’re all on shaky ground with things we cannot definitively prove through firsthand knowledge or by factual evidence.

Second, many reputations have been ruined by these kinds of attacks which were based on innuendo and rumor. When the facts later negated the attack, it was too late for the person attacked to recover.

Third, put yourself in the person’s shoes that you want to attack and smear by name. Would you want someone to do that to you? I don’t think any of us would, but this is one of the many things that quintessential leaders consider in the speech they choose to write and speak.

Does it give a negative and/or false impression about us? I don’t think many of us really consider what our speech says about us. I think if we did – and quintessential leaders always do – we would be much more circumspect about what we say and write or share and endorse (social media).

Now is the point where each of us, striving to be quintessential leaders, need, not to look at everyone else, but to look at ourselves in how we use the freedom of speech in what we say and what we write.

What is the intent of the words we speak and write and share and endorese (social media)?

Is the speech that we use to say and write and share and endorse (social media) things appropriate?

What impact does the speech that we speak with, write with, and share and endorse (social media) have?

How are we doing?