Follow the leader

It seems that life is just one big game of “follow the leader” for most people. While it seems that our culture idealizes the aggressive “leader” (I put leader in quotes because aggressiveness can often be antithetical to leadership), we also are absolutely terrible at playing that role. How many of us are actual leaders who know what to do, how to direct people, and how to encourage people to grow and become better?

I am moderately frustrated if only because I find it perplexing that so often we are so desperate for a leader that we conjure one up. We follow our idols and our friends, who often are just as lost as we are. I have a theory that the human mind seeks most fervently the concept of stability. Much like the body’s tendency to reach homeostasis (equilibrium between functions), I think the brain seeks predictability and malleability of our situations. Sometimes the only way to reach any sort of stability is to substitute useful, thoughtful leadership with the stumbling around of the average person.

I do not write this to imply that if one is not a natural leader that one is worthless. On the contrary, what is the purpose of having a leader without having any followers? If we were all leaders, what would happen if we all disagreed with each other as consistently as we do? It would be a hopelessly unproductive system. Leaders need followers.

One of my biggest gripes about the educational system is how one-size-fits-all it is. Leaders need a radically different sort of education than followers do. A leader needs to be taught a different set of skills. (The same goes for people with different learning styles and so on, as has been pointed out by many people over the years.) I think we need to do a better job of weeding out the leaders and grooming them more for leadership. Every small improvement is an improvement nonetheless, and I think such a policy would help us as a species quite a bit.

Lastly, I find that it is extremely dangerous to have so many people following blindly, yet being taught the lie that they are just as capable as the next person of making a proper decision. I’m going to be very blunt. Some people are better at being right than others. There are a lot of people who are more right than me more often. I’m not offended by that – it’s a fact. We need to stop teaching people that everyone’s thoughts are equally valid. It is not thoughts that are valid, but facts. Not everyone has equal access to facts, and it’s time we realized that. It’s time we stop pandering to each other to make everyone feel like they’re intelligent. Fact is, 2.1% of the population has an IQ over 130. Of those in that group, only a fraction of them are fit to be leaders. Let’s be smart about this. Let’s make progress instead of lying to ourselves for once.

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Follow the leader

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