Ever find yourself bemused or hurt because you thought you had a trusted person or group figured out—whether because of promises or agreements made, favors done, works consumed, actions witnessed, or how “way back” you go—only to be completely caught off guard? Outfoxed?
Truth is, human behavior should never surprise you. Whether it's a seemingly level-headed celebrity suddenly committing suicide, or actions of followers or fellow leaders and colleagues, failure to study human nature exposes the naïve to well-executed tactics and subterfuge, with lasting consequences.
There's never been a better time to upgrade your leadership IQ by studying both conventional and unconventional leadership, and conventional and unconventional strategy execution, — which I've argued is the ultimate IQ. For without that, leaders who are unable or unwilling to adapt are doomed to fail. Indeed those who doubted me in the waning years of the Obama Presidency until most recently, the Trump-Kim (Singapore) Summit, now get it. These are radical times. And:Whatever your lofty ideals, a certain mindset is required for survival. From leadership and business to geopolitics and China's long game or Boxing (click above), to Putin's Game of Death and successful de facto annexation of the United States. And it is ignorance of that mindset plus the laws shared here that guarantees inevitable painful failure, — with recovery, tragically for many, often impossible.
Yet avoiding all that, I presume, is precisely why you're here. So if your answer to the opening question (in paragraph 1) was “Yes” and you have perhaps one too many anecdotes to share, or if you simply aspire to be an astute leader who's always steps ahead, stick around, bookmark this page, study it for as long as necessary, share liberally, and follow me. Because realism, and inoculation against naïveté will save you, your loved ones, or any organization you're entrusted to lead.
If by chance, you're either a U.S. government employee or hold leadership office in any such capacity, The Economist recently bolstered arguments I've already made in previous writings, links referenced herein, vis-à-vis national security/national interest focus, the urgent need for constitutional reforms, and strategic costs of not adapting to our new world order by starting with the latter.
That is, in the interest of being a functional, as opposed to dysfunctional superpower that is as vulnerable to deception and subterfuge like the failed governments, civilizations and leaders studied in the feature audiobook. Simply click the image to read. But quick housekeeping first, for those new to my blog:
If you're not using an up-to-date Chrome browser/clone, then the feature audio, Robert Greene's acclaimed book (above) should already be playing by now. If you are, specifically as of May 2018, then manually click or tap above to begin whenever you're ready. And while you're at it, for your aesthetic convenience, hover and X out the annoying “Comment & Subscribe WIN PRIZES” note!
Almost wherever you find yourself—even in churches, temples and mosques—you'll find there's a game going on. One much older than you and I are. It loves suckers. And if you don't want to be old too soon, smart too late, or a day late and a dollar short, as the sayings go, this update to my Leadership Manifesto, and relevant tweets will significantly raise your IQ. Because reality doesn't care whether or not you “hate politics” or want to “stick to” pigeonholes trolls foist upon you or your brand.One of the best lessons I learned over a period of more than a decade living in China that no book could ever teach the smug cynic remains: Practically everyone you meet often has an angle. You find agreements, commitments, and words don't matter. And like new SIM cards, one's allegiances change overnight. Which is why mastering survival, self-defense, and problem sensitivity (below) is critical.
Like his predecessor, Donald Trump (images hyperlinked) will learn perhaps too late there's a difference between deception and self-deception. Indeed mindful of the cost, socially and strategically astute individuals, like superior leaders, are always mindful of striking the right balance between hope balanced against realism. Pragmatism, over hypersensitive emotions or blind trust.
In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping assured President Obama during a Washington State visit that: “China does not intend to pursue militarization.” It was around the same time the since violated Obama-Xi Cyber Theft Agreement was agreed. Moreover, we now know the PLA State-sponsored Winnti Umbrella cyber espionage collective was before that Agreement, and since, been active. Even as China landed nuclear strike-capable H-6K bomber on its illegally annexed, internationally disputed albeit fast-developing South China Sea military bases just last week.From China's long game which again I cover extensively in drips as news and breaking news overwhelm researchers and journalists alike, to Putin's Game of Death, to whatever may be happening in your career, personal life, or community—provided you're smart enough to notice, file it in the backburner of your mind and move on—evidence of the realism needed to confirm that none of the content in the “48 Laws” is esoteric or academic, is often all around to warn us.
It's often happening in some way or form around you. To your loved ones; your organization; your country. Whatever the power play or malicious activity. And the only question is to what extent you're ethically shaping your development and choosing to live outside a filter bubble. Drowning in self-inflicted, if not hyper partisan or hyper nationalistic indoctrination. And quick to take sides, always refuse to objectively investigate what you know nothing about.
Advanced Personal Leadership is seeking out, earnestly taming one's cognitive biases, and as a consequence, being in the best intellectual and emotional state to effectively lead themselves and others.One of the quickest ways to spot a fool is through the above law. The rest of which you can study below.
In a world of spineless cowards in leadership positions exploiting leadership to make career moves, get ahead, or use leadership hashtags on Social Media to promote their brands or themselves as (fake) leaders only to conveniently remain silent on matters of injustice and controversy, in the interest of protecting their brand, your lack of conviction ultimately weakens you. Even if, in the short term, it appears you're protecting your interests, à la this book.
Whatever the psychopath or sociopath's derived value addressed here, good leadership has nothing to do with rallies, TV ratings, abusing people online, or greedy bottom lines and metrics. In an age of Dutertes, Kim Jong-Uns, Trumps, Putins and Xis, the overwhelming, time-tested evidence supported by Robert Greene's book is something like this: The world has seen it all before.
Whether in business, politics or other spheres, true leaders build legacies that outlast them as they adapt to disruptive events. Indeed to be a true leader with conviction and consistency is to embody the Advanced Personal Leadership Principles taught here, comprising my leadership manifesto:
A leader is a stable, tenacious, strategically oriented and highly accountable and disciplined executor, servant and enabler of vision, great ideas, great potential, quality, people and service in a way that ensures sustainability and continued success. (Click for clearer image).
To understand this definition, see in its entirety, the 2012 documentary Jaglavak, Prince of Insects, free on Hulu.
A person is a leader because they readily seize initiative and resourcefully tackle complicated challenges, intimidating, and commonly avoided problems while remaining courageous and wise enough to strategically “quit”, scale down or abort projects & missions.
A person is a leader because as a strategically oriented visionary and lifelong learner who is humble and pragmatic, they bring agility, context, risk management, critical and creative thinking, active listening, excellent communication, networking, human relations and negotiation skills; problem sensitivity, observational skills and an eclectic array of problem-solving skills that include the self-discipline to resist micro-managing and delegate tasks to those more capable.
A person is a leader because they are realists who hone, possess, hire or seek collaboration with those with a preternatural ability to sense and effectively neutralize deception in any power play. Know the laws.
A person is a leader because they absolutely believe in, and consistently demonstrate Respect and Dignity for ALL individuals in the organization or those under their command without Fear, Favoritism, Amnesia, Prejudice, Trickery/Sabotage, Gimmickry/Cowardice and other Manipulative Malice. A person is a leader because their ethical compass, the linchpin of which is fair-mindedness, is crystal clear whatever the context, and importantly, non-negotiable. And therefore, free of corrupt influence. A good leader therefore hires not only for skill but also for attitude so as to maintain an a*shole-free and hence, productive work culture that is more than a breath of fresh air, as is the culture of Google. A person is a leader because whether they are formally in a position of power or not, they foster, advance and passionately execute with good foresight strong ideas that serve the public good, solidify organizational success and cohesion and enhance individual effectiveness in a way that motivates, and is worthy of emulation. And they never feel threatened by another's rise.
A person is a leader because they appreciate that the exemplification of good judgment begins with the courage and self-discipline to do what is right and ethical no matter how unpopular; to protect and serve by refraining from illicit pleasures that involve dehumanizing (e.g., celebrating, encouraging, applauding or tolerating the tearing down of some/one, for the benefit of) others. Indeed, a good leader understands that failure in this regard, diminishes them. A person is a leader because they view their existence as a calling: to serve, deliver and over-deliver value while enabling others (in the tribe, group, team, organization, country or those under their command) to be as great as they humanly can.
A person is a leader because they are so driven by productivity, efficient use of time and resources and powerful results that they are “close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate”. And it is for this reason that whatever the context, a good leader is unconcerned with, influenced, or intimidated by the status quo, popularity, so-called “superiors”, survivalism, careerism, political correctness, or a FoMO (fear of missing out) syndrome.
A person is a leader because as a fearless, highly accountable and disciplined disruptor, trendsetter or trailblazer, they DO NOT subscribe to mediocrity because as a fearless, highly accountable and disciplined disruptor, trendsetter or trailblazer, they DO NOT subscribe to mediocrity. Their façade-free, 'just the facts, ma'am' disposition wins and builds trust, itself a rare and hard currency in the marketplace of Machiavellian (office) politics and business competition. As such, they tirelessly endeavor to get the balance between Management and Leadership right by getting Emotional and Social Intelligence right. A person is a leader because he/she is a tireless embodiment of true excellence, tenacity and accountability. And in order to be the change agent they are, they must be prepared to deal with C.R.A.P. This is what makes a leader dare greatly, whatever the odds. And finally...
A person is a leader because their readily verifiable actions, body of work and character speak louder than the biased commendation of friend, self proclamations, or bitter accusation of foes. And they thrive on sacrifice and patience that is rare in an age of inattention, knowing that “inventing and pioneering require the willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time”.
So the question then, is, will you be a Leader/Builder? Or a cynic, interfering with others' self-determination and potential, as Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos asks? Continue where other change agents hang out. Proceed below. Or for leadership consultation, contact me here, or here.
○ ○ ○The Art of Deception in Leadership II: How To Survive Strategic Deception The Leadership Series | Breakthrough Ideas for May 2018 (2 of 2)