Posts Tagged ‘narcissism’

Millennials and Quintessential LeadersBefore I even get into the heart of this post, I know that all of these characteristics don’t apply to every single Millennial, and, as with every other generation, there are hybrids (for example, I’m a Thirteener – Gen X – who was raised by older Silent Generation parents, and while I identify strongly with much of what defines the key characteristics of my generation, my core principles and values are very much Silent Generation, which has often and probably will continue to put me out of sync with most of my peers) and there are exceptions to the generalized characteristics of this generation.

I know that. You know that. So no need for flames or trolling if you’re a hybrid or an exception to the general Millennial characteristics. (more…)

In “The Mindset of Unquintessential Leadership and What It Looks Like in Action,” one of the characteristics that I identified as part of that mindset is bullying.

I think it’s fair to say that we’ve all been exposed to bullying at some point during our lives. However, not all of us have been victims of bullying. For a bully to succeed, the person being bullied has to give his or her power to the bully.

Not everyone who gives this power to bullies is inherently weak. Sometimes the surrender simply comes from long-term battle fatigue and being completely worn down over time.

It takes tenacity, an exceptionally-strong will, and a very thick skin sometimes not to give power to someone else, especially with threats that sometimes go as far as the possibility of losing one’s life. (more…)

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed AmericaRising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After unprecedented continuous and heavy rain storms from the summer of 1926 through the spring of 1927 along the Mississippi River, the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 became the worst and most destructive river flood in the history of the United States, with 27,000 square miles along the river overwhelmed and buried by water at depths up to 30 feet.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America doesn’t just document this historic natural disaster. Instead it comprehensively looks at all the factors, many of them more than a century in the making, that coalesced over time to create not only this disaster, but the response to it, and the way it dramatically changed life, especially in the lower Mississippi, from the Mississippi Delta to the swamp country below New Orleans, forever.

This book is gripping and grabs you into the story, not only of the Mississippi River, but of America: its geography, its people, its society, its military, its power enclaves in business, government, life and the deep and fatal flaws of each of those that, ultimately led to this disaster and its aftermath.

For people like me, with a strong scientific bent, the numbers, the physics, the math, the structure, and the detailed solutions for harnessing the destructive power of the river are enthralling, but they are presented in a way that anyone can easily understand, especially when the flaws in thinking because of ignorance and/or laziness crop up along the way.

There are no heroes in this story, only mere limited humans. Some were downright villainous: self-absorbed, narcissistic, mean, hate-filled, murderous, deceitful, and motivated simply by pride, vanity, and greed. Others were products of their environments and experiences, believing they were altruistic, good, and devoted to the greater good, while in fact when push came to shove, the darkness of their hearts revealed itself as well.

Even the one man who knew the Mississippi River better than anyone else (and probably still stands alone in that intimate knowledge of the river) and had the engineering genius to know how to properly harness its power for good and did everything within his power to make that happen, James Eads, had flaws of character that emerged under pressure.

It’s often been said that we will never know how strong we are until we are surrounded by and confronted in every space of our lives with the impossible.

I believe – in fact, I know from experience for certain – that we will never know or understand how truly weak we are – where the hidden deep and destructive flaws of our hearts, our souls, our minds, and, indeed, our very nature and character are – until we are inundated at every turn with the impossible.

It is at this point where we have the opportunity to choose: to fully and humbly commit and endeavor to completely change and replace the very broken, the fatally flawed, and the intrinsic dastardly wrongs that permeate the human heart or to fully and proudly embrace them and feed and grow them to their fullest extent.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, at its core, is about the choices of America, its people as a whole, its society, its government, and, in fact, every single individual in the face of these weaknesses.

The choices disappoint. The weaknesses have continued to grow and to even more deeply become interwoven in the America – its people, its government, its society, and every single individual (including you and including me, if we have the courage and the honesty to admit it) – of 2016.

There is no concern or care for each other anywhere in the fabric of America and its organizations and institutions. Everything is about greed, power, and money. We destroy each other at every turn and in every nook and cranny of our society for our own benefit and for our own profit. We oppress. We steal. We lie. We cheat. We deceive. We hate. We destroy.

And we wrap all up in a pretty paper with a bow and sing our praises and exalt ourselves as we run the victory laps of our destructiveness and proclaim our honor and glory without end, when instead we should be ashamed of ourselves and doing something to wash away our sins.

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America is as current in its indictment of us as a nation, as a government, as a society, and as individuals as the century it covers that culminated in the preventable, but humanly inevitable, Great Mississippi flood of 1927.

The lessons here are instructive if we’re willing to learn them.

For those of us striving to be quintessential leaders, we must learn them and we must change as a result.

Otherwise, we have no claim at all to being quintessential or being leaders. We, instead are just pretenders, merely giving lip service to something that we know nothing about and want nothing to do with because doing it is infinitely harder – and requires so much more, and more than we are willing to give – than simply talking about it.

Are we merely talking a good game or are we doing the hard work?

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self-importance-unquintessential-leadershipSelf-promotion is anything that we do or say about ourselves and our lives that is intended to draw attention to ourselves and to make people believe that we are important. Self-promotion is very much a symptom of narcissism and self-absorption, but it is also a symptom of insecurity and neediness.

Self-promotion is all around us. We are bombarded with it constantly. Technology – cable, satellite, internet, and social media – has not only enabled self-promotion, but also rabidly encourages it. (more…)

How people approach leadership responsibilities mattersHow people in leadership positions approach the responsibilities of leading their teams is just as important as what they should be doing to fulfill those responsibilities.

Whether people in leadership positions are subjective or objective in their approach determines whether they are quintessential leaders or unquintessential leaders.

Let’s talk first about what being subjective and being objective means. (more…)

Technology gives society the false idea that is perfectWe live in a society that has, in large part due to technology, been hoodwinked into the beliefs that each of us knows everything, sees everything, understands everything, and is an expert about everything.

In other words, most of us never give – because we don’t have to – everybody the benefit of the doubt.

More of us have been entrapped by this fallacy than we might believe. Before we jump in – this is one of the signs that we are in the majority of the entrapped – and say, “That doesn’t apply to me!” let’s examine what it not applying to us looks like.

We may be surprised at what we find if we’re willing to listen and are willing to be honest with ourselves. Unfortunately, those traits are very rare anymore because most of us are convinced that we already know all the answers so there’s nothing else that we can learn.

Learning and the change and growth that comes from that, my friends, is at the heart of unquintessential leadership.

However, if we believe we already know everything and there’s nothing else for us to learn, then that is our death kneel to becoming quintessential leaders. We will never become quintessential leaders if this is our mindset and our attitude going in.

It is in this aspect of the societal tendency to not give the benefit of the doubt that quintessential leaders stand out from everybody else.

benefit-of-the-doubt-wordsQuintessential leaders distinguish themselves as being willing to give the benefit of the doubt to other people by what they are and what they understand about themselves and what they don’t do.

Quintessential leaders are humble. They do not elevate themselves in their own minds nor do they try to elevate themselves in others’ minds.

They’re not always clamoring for people to look at them or to be the center of attention. They understand that it’s never “all about me,” but instead quintessential leaders understand it’s “all about others, and in reality, very little in life is actually about me.”

Social media has done a lot to destroy humility in general.

All the selfies and “Hey, look at me!” tweets, instagrams, and status updates have played right into the pride, vanity, and narcissism that seems to be hardwired into human nature. 

To achieve, maintain, and grow in humility, then, in this environment of easy self-centeredness and self-absorption, takes constant, diligent, and honest effort along with persistent self-control.

Quintessential leaders exercise self-control and they are constantly inventorying themselves: their attitudes, their motives, their thoughts, their words, and their actions.

As a result, quintessential leaders know their limitations and they know their strengths and weaknesses and that leads them to give the benefit of the doubt to others.

What does giving the benefit of the doubt to other people look like in quintessential leaders? (The opposite of these are what unquintessential leadership and not giving the benefit of the doubt look like.)

Quintessential leaders recognize we are not omniscient. We can’t read minds. We can’t read hearts. We don’t know The Great Gatsby's symbol for omniscienceeverything about everything.

Quintessential leaders don’t know everybody. We don’t know everything about everybody And while quintessential leaders may be experts in a few areas, we are not experts in everything.

And we are certainly not experts on everybody, because we know we aren’t even experts on ourselves (in other words, there’s a lot about ourselves that we don’t even know).

Therefore, because quintessential leaders know we are not omniscient, we are not always at the ready with answers for everybody about everything with the understood premise that these are the right answers and these are the only answers.

Quintessential leaders know that is the height of vanity and foolishness.

Life and people are way, way more complicated than that and none of us mere mortals is up to the challenge of knowing everything about there is to know about everyone and everything.

Because they listen to hear instead of running roughshod over everybody else to talk more loudly and to make and remake their point because they’re right and it’s so important that Jumping to conclusionseverybody knows it, quintessential leaders don’t jump to conclusions.

Quintessential leaders understand that jumping to conclusions will always lead us down the furthest path from the truth. And it will damage, sometimes irreparably, our relationships with other people because it creates chasms and builds walls, instead of building bridges.

Quintessential leaders understand that there is an unknown backstory behind every human being and that our experiences in life are customized and unique, so they don’t make presumptions and assumptions based on their backstories and their life experiences.

PresumptionSince quintessential leaders aren’t living life from a self-centered and self-absorbed perspective, we don’t inject ourselves and our lives into the lives of other people by being presumptive and making assumptions.

AssumptionBeing presumptive and making assumptions are another sure way to go down a path that is the furthest from the truth. And this damages relationships too. Sometimes beyond repair in this lifetime.

Quintessential leaders are not quick to accuse and are not quick to criticize other people. 

While quintessential leaders evaluate behavior (actions and words) at the highest ethical and moral standards and are responsible for bringing that behavior to light and correcting it by coaching, they are careful not to personally quick to accuseattack the people who have the behavior that needs to be corrected by accusation and criticism.

This is probably the most difficult part of giving the benefit of the doubt. We who are striving to be quintessential leaders fail in this part, hopefully not regularly, more than we should.

Being quick to criticize and being quick to accuse other people quick to accuseshows a lack of mercy and this will also lead quintessential leaders down the furthest path from truth and it will damage – almost certainly beyond the ability to fix in this life – the relationships.

There is an constructive, big-picture method that quintessential leaders use to coach toward correct behavior.

Very few people know and understand this method, nor are more than a small minority adept at it. And, of course, there are always people who just don’t care.

Coaching a wrong, misguided, or negative behavior looks like this:

  • This is wrong (misguided, negative).
  • This is why (concrete facts, not feelings).
  • This is what you replace that with (concrete facts, not feelings).
  • This is the framework of what it looks like, step-by-step, from start to finish (the big picture).
  • I’ll be right here beside you to guide and help you, as you need me, through the process (investment in the process).
  • We’ll succeed (common shared goal).

Unfortunately the “reward” of quick accusation and quickly criticizing other people on a personal, below-the-belt level is much more attractive and much stronger to the majority of people than the reward of actually offering to invest in the process of coaching and helping someone change and correct a behavior.

So the time has come for us to look into our own quintessential leader mirrors to see if we strive all the time to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Don’t look at anybody else. This is about you and your mirror. This is about me and my mirror.

I can’t change anybody else, but I can certainly change me. You can’t change anybody else, but you can certainly change you.

Do we usually give other people the benefit of the doubt?

Do we give the people we like and/or are most like us in personality, temperament, background, and interests the benefit of the doubt, but not the people we don’t like and/or who are unlike us in personality, temperament, background, and interests?

Do we never give anyone the benefit of the doubt?

We need to look in our mirrors closely, honestly, and rigorously to answer these questions. 

Do we have the character, the desire or the courage to look in our mirrors, or will we assume it doesn’t apply to us and on go on doing what we’ve always done.

I have the character. I have the courage. I have the desire.

Do you?