The Elusive Nature of Leadership: Understanding the need for an entirely different approach

I know I write a lot about the failure of our education system, and need for Donald Trump as president.  While those subjects may become laborious to the everyday reader, there are so many angles to discuss that only voluminous examination from every trajectory of consideration is appropriate to the difficulties of our day.  Sometimes I run across a video clip that really exhibits the reason, and such an example came to me while I was watching a Donald Trump interview with Chris Cuomo on CNN.  I was so astonished by some of the things Chris said that it took me several days to get my thoughts right about it.  Watch the video below.  The specific part of the interview that I found so astonishing was the part that Cuomo uttered in question form, “how do you know you’re right if so many people disagree with you. “  Boy did he say a mouthful right there.

Leadership is the most elusive element of modern culture.  Even with all our science and physiological understanding of thought processes—academics do not understand it.  Very few people understand real leadership.  I actually deal with this kind of stupidity all the time.  I understand leadership extremely well; it’s always been a very natural thing for me.  When I read books like Trump’s Art of the Deal, and Sun Tzu’s Art of War, I understand the author’s point of view instinctively as opposed to the novice student hearing some of the elements of those books for the first time.  A lot of that comes from my education background and life experiences which looked to people on the outside to be extremely reckless.  I have always known the right thing to do even when nobody else could see it, in every aspect of my life—so it’s easy for me to look at Chris Cuomo and wonder if he’s from some other planet.  I’ve heard that baffling contemplation so many times that it doesn’t surprise me.  But for the sake of dramatic writing, I’ll fester along the line of thought to make the point more interesting.  Leadership does not come from focus groups or consensus of any kind.  It comes from raw individualized leadership only—meaning other voices are pointless.  It is good to utilize other people’s opinions for the sake of “team building.”  But a “team” approach is not the same as “leadership.”  It’s just a means of getting large numbers of people to do what you want them to do.  A team approach is fine so long as that team listens to their head coach.  Without a strong leader, a “team” will be ineffective.

When I talk about things like that to people who think they are the smartest people in the room, I get hokey references to all my mysterious books as if somewhere in them was a famous recipe for leadership that they can figure out if they just put together the right mix of a “team” working toward consensus.   As I write this the new Star Wars films are getting ready to release and there is a lot of excitement about them.  There really may never be such an event on planet earth again, where the entire world is so ripe with anticipation.  While I think the movies might be pretty good, I have serious doubts that they will be as good as the movies George Lucas made when he ran Lucasfilm from a leadership position as a sole proprietor.   The new films are certainly made by “committee” and I think that will show up in what comes across in the movie theater.  The message of the old movies was individualism versus the state because that was something that George Lucas believed in during that part of his life.  The new movies are about decentralized authority and consensus building.  For kids going to the movies today, the films will be the best thing they’ll have seen, but in the long lens of history, these new movies will lack the punch of the originals because of the method for which they were made—just like any company that tries to make a product after a strong leader has either left them, or they’ve tried a more inclusive approach—a rule by committee.   That is exactly the problem the Apple Company is suffering through right now.  They still make a good product, but they lack the innovation and spirit they had when Steve Jobs was in charge.   They can hold their own for a while, but are slipping a bit each year under weak leadership.

Trump would be a good president because of what Cuomo asked him.  Trump instinctively knows what’s right to do.  A good leader can make a decision even if nobody else understands the nature of the problem yet. The reason why is because of Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality.  CLICK HERE FOR REVIEW.  Leaders are simply at the front of the metaphorical train instead of the back.  It doesn’t matter if you are talking about Jim Harbaugh leaving the San Francisco 49ers  to become coach of the Michigan Wolverines in college or George Patton, strong leadership is immediately noticed the moment its gone.   Good leadership is noticed on a restaurant drive through—good leadership keeps the food moving, bad leadership drives down the food quality and window times.  The moment that Jim Harbaugh left San Francisco for Michigan, that professional football team went into decline but the college team was on the uptake.  Good leaders never listen to the world around them except for intelligence gathering.  Good leaders always act from the inner voice that only they understand at the front of the train of thought—on the cutting edge of decision-making.  It’s not a mystery to those who naturally possess the trait.

However, our education system teaches kids like Chris Cuomo that answers to life come from collective consensus, and is a very unfortunate misunderstanding.  I won’t say that it’s a deliberate lie, just an improper understanding of where to put specific emphasis on personal value.  The schools have lied to these poor kids and taught them all the wrong things for all the wrong social reasons.  Everyone can’t be a leader, because most of the time they lack the courage to be.  It takes a lot of strength and courage to be a leader, and some people just don’t have it in them.  It can be taught to some extent, but only in small degrees.  It actually makes me sad to visit a hospital and see people having babies because most children have indications of the leadership trait available to them as infants–after all they had just survived nine months inside a womb and overcame the immense psychological trauma of child-birth.  If treated correctly, many of those children could be nurtured into the kind of mind that producers good leaders, and if America really wanted to solve some problems, it would focus on strengthening its children right out of the womb, not through some government confiscation program but by empowering the parents to promote self-reliance in infants as soon as possible, learning to walk, learning to play by themselves—not with other children—and developing a strong imagination with stimulation of many aspects of thought as soon as the neurons in their brains have connected to allow such thinking.  But what happens to most of those children is they are coddled too long next to their mothers, and their fathers take orders from society at large falling in behind some authority figure that is probably incompetent by default.  Children directly mimic everything they see from their parents so if the parents are social messes, the children will struggle with those aspects for the rest of their lives.  For many children their limits in life are pressed into them before they are even six months old, and it just saddens me every time I see it.

What’s unique about Trump is that he’s always been way in front of the cutting edge—his whole life.  He’d be a great president because he wouldn’t listen to the opinions of other people—that’s the point!  He doesn’t need consultants, he doesn’t need focus groups.  He needs information, but he doesn’t need anybody to tell him what to do with it.  It would be my hope that under a Trump presidency that he’d cause a renaissance in American leadership just because his methods would be on full display around the world and people would want to copy him.  That might bring out a few more babies per year who have the potential to be strong leaders in the future.  Trump often compares himself to George Patton, and it’s not because of the militaristic nature of both of them, it’s because they both possess similar beliefs in themselves—even when the rest of the world thinks they are crazy—they can see clearly what to do and when to do it.  To those without that skill, they are baffled as to how Trump and Patton could possible know what to do without some support from their peers.  But leadership is a lonely enterprise.  Leaders are alone in the troubles of their minds and they are alone in the successes—they are alone most of the time, even when they are with people who love them.  Being a strong leader is much about being alone—even in a crowd, because nobody understands.   American culture needs to at least embrace its leaders and if such a thing became fashionable through major changes in our education system and a populist president who would make bold front page news every day of his time in office, then maybe some of those children born under freedom might develop in them the natural inclination of leadership.  But before that can happen someone like Trump would need to be able to sell it to the masses.  Only then would the qualities of leadership become more widely acceptable—and understood.  But it will take a generation to get there.  There is nothing easy about leadership.  It is the most important element of a free republic.  Consensus building is absolutely the wrong approach.  It doesn’t work, and it never will.  It can produce moderate results, but spectacular ambitions will always reside among the few who embrace the cutting edge and by their very nature—who always see most clearly and act most decisively.  Trump is one of those rare few who do it so fluidly so this is a rare opportunity for the United States, and I’m excited about it.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman