Inspirational Leadership is… all the Rage?

By Tom Kersten (adapted from a blog article August 14, 2016)

Rage is a fascinating subject, especially if you have the opportunity to see it up close. Like a Rube Goldberg machine… It is complex, difficult to understand, entirely self-perpetuating and the smallest of actions can set off catastrophic results. I live inside just such a system, balanced precariously like a three-legged stool between the words… Wife, Daughters and Responsibility… coated in a thick veneer of constantly cycling hormones, with my only defense being a toxic biochemical cloud of perspiration and fear trailing behind me, as a type of warning to others… It’s too late for me but you can still save yourself. Think I’m exaggerating? Being too hard on the women-folk, am I? Recently, my wife brought home a book about raising children, not all that unusual as she works in a library, but the title gave me pause – “People I Want to Punch in the Throat” – I’m not going to lie, one some level I had grave concerns for my personal safety, reflexively rubbing my neck and adjusting my shirt collar in a very Rodney Dangerfield kind of way. My wife simply nodded slowly, like Geena Davis in The Fly, as if to say… Be afraid, be VERY afraid… And I was. If she had an evil laugh, this is where she would have used it.

This video link is the world’s funniest EVIL laugh… And the thought that they spent weeks or even months teaching this trick, only to have it become incredibly annoying… Is even funnier.

Considering this daily exposure to the psychologically delicate, emotionally driven rage that permeates my household, one would think I might have built up a near immunity to outbursts of all types… A wooden and callused shell of a man, emotionally bereft and completely oblivious to the violent displays of rage that frequently appear during tense moments on any baseball field. Our team has taken to calling these types of temper tantrums… “Hulk Smash” moments. These are the little ball-gasms of man-child emotions, bordering on masochistic delight, that leaves people speechless… And much like any prolonged session of aggressive masturbation, leaves everyone involved feeling unfulfilled, slightly ashamed and socially isolated. But as I’ve explained to my children on multiple occasions, this is why crazy trumps tough every day of the week.  If people think you are tough, someone will eventually want to find out how tough… but if people think you are crazy, no one ever wants to find out how crazy.

This photo sums up so many things about our past players… Ean’s anger at the poker table, Andrey’s disappointment at the performance of his bats, Ean’s dislike of Kasey’s base-running, Tony’s philosophy of helmet care, Ean’s preoccupation with my counting skills, Chad’s feelings regarding curveballs, Ean’s thoughts on personal responsiBILLity… Does it seem to anyone else that Ean might have too many of these issues?

Not the dangerous kind of crazy, not the you’re about to be hog-tied by your fellow passengers on an airplane crazy with a big “C”… Just crazy with a small “c”, like boarding a full elevator and refusing to turn around to watch the floor numbers click by, but rather breaking social convention and starring uncomfortably at everyone as if to say, I could go postal on you at any moment or break into tears body-rocking on the floor… I have no idea what’s coming next… SO DON’T!!!… Just don’t. Suddenly, you are given a wide berth by default, as if the neighborhood’s old ladies got together and warned everyone, “just let him do what he wants, Marge’s boy is special”. It’s freedom from within society’s constraints and it will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I have strategically employed this tactic with frequent success and that deep down inside I am filled with an anger and rage equal to the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns…  or I could just be more than slightly sarcastic… or as Jeff Bridges says to John Goodman in The Big Lebowski, “You’re not wrong Walter… You’re just an asshole!”

Far too often though, society defers to these individuals who stand out from the crowd and attempts to make them “leaders”. While the qualities on display may be greatly beneficial in certain circumstances, true leadership consists of much more than a cult of personality. Aristotle once warned us that, “He who cannot first be a good follower, cannot be a good leader”… of course, Aristotle also thought women were “disfigured” men and that they played little to no role in reproduction… so consider your sources. But the fact remains, no one wants to follow someone who’s nuttier than a fruitcake or a silverback mountain gorilla. Unpredictable, self-absorbed, power hungry and prone to violence… These are the requirements of a Mafia hitman, not a leader. A true leader moves the entire group in a positive direction, cultivating relationships that challenge and reward, but most of all… A true leader makes it all about the “us” and not about the “me”.

This video link deftly explains the power of a movement… No, not the kind you drop in the crapper. This is about how leaders relate to their first followers and why failing to learn this lesson as a manager or business owner will leave you cradling your “lone nuts”.

Ultimately, leaders inspire others to join the worthy cause, to find the breath that motivates people to push passed the difficulty of the now and beyond the pain of the present… To grasp the elusiveness of possibility and put forth the effort needed to help the movement press forward to reach the vaunted goal. All too often however, history praises the leader above the act of leadership itself, above the goal… George Washington at Valley Forge, Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Mahatma Gandhi at Dandi, Martain Luther King, Jr. at Selma… Great leaders and great leadership forces, even demands that the focus be put back on the “us”… The service to others and to the cause… And never on the praise of the individual person. This is where actual leadership… and true inspiration really reside. 

Finally, on the recommendation of one of my closest poker table “advisors”, I will be ending all my blog articles with the same tagline… To honor one of our friends who, despite being asked multiple times to read these posts, still refuses to do so. This passive aggressive behavior will continue to be repeated with almost Tourette’s like consistency until he notices his mistake and takes the appropriate action to apologize for his lack of emotional support… PONTY IS A DICK!!!

This video caught my attention with the comment regarding success vs. sleep… See if you can pick it out, I’ll be busy mainlining Skittles and Mt. Dew to keep me awake.