Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Eagle Butte

Leadership and morality go hand-in-hand

Benjamin Franklin writes about a list of virtues that he created when he was twenty years old. He wanted to achieve moral perfection.

To do this, he made a plan that he thought would hold him accountable.  He created a chart, and he determined he would mark in that chart each day when he failed to practice the virtue he set out to master.

His log is much like the logs that people make to watch their calorie intake or document their workout routines.

I have employed logs and journals to keep track of my own progress in various areas, but keeping them after a week or two is not always easy to do, and a person must have the drive to keep oneself accountable or an interest in assessing oneself if he or she is going to be able to maintain the accountability system employed.

So, at the heart of any change, or self-assessment is drive. One must be driven to do something without the help of others or the threat of authority hanging over them. When left to our own devices, and without a motivating external or internal force, people tend to fall far short of their lofty goals.

There are many questions that come to mind when I think of these motivators. There are leaders that are driven entirely by external forces – fear of consequences, desire for money.  These are external because the thing that causes the fear or the desire comes from outside the person.

There are others who are driven only by internal forces. They get up early in the morning and clean because they want to, they work as a lawyer because they enjoy defending people in court, or prosecuting criminals.

One might argue that even these examples are driven by external motivators, because the actions have results that satisfy a person’s desire or sense of accomplishment.

Franklin wanted to achieve moral perfection, so he devised a method to assess his progress and keep himself focused. No one made him do it – he just did – so his motivator was internal.

Recently I had a conversation with someone about how some people are motivated to do well in school, at their jobs, and anything else they do, even if they are not made to do these things by anyone else, and then there are other people who will not go from point A to point B without being told to do so, or having specific directions about how to do so.

I wonder if this difference in people is the key difference between leaders and followers.  I think leadership skills can be taught, and people without that internal drive can be leaders of a sort, but I think the leaders who do things out of an internal motivation to make a difference in their own lives and others are they ones who truly rule the world.

My next question is on what moral compass are these internally drive leaders operating?

For example, Donald J. Trump I think is internally motivated. He has a desire for power and attention. He does not seem bothered about how he gets it, and he will say what he thinks others want to hear, or what he wants to hear, in order to get the attention and obtain the power for which he hungers.

Clearly, my conclusions are based on what I have seen and heard from our current president, and I could be wrong, but I have not been presented with any evidence to show that I am wrong.

While I see Trump as a leader, I think he is a dangerous one, guided not by a true drive to make this world better for everyone, but by a drive to make this world better for him.

To me, that type of compass lacks morality. As we seek people to represent us in our country, I think we need to consider what drives the people who run for office.

I am not concerned about what religion a person practices, or where their moral virtues come from. I am concerned with whether or not their drive comes from a desire to make the world work for us all. If not, then we should keep looking, because we need leaders that believe in seeking the truth, who base their conclusions on verifiable evidence, who think before speaking, who have varied experiences and know how to collaborate with diverse people.