A 22-second course in leadership
“I know what everybody in the world is looking for,” says Peter D. Kaufman.
The answer to this question is also a “22-second course in leadership,” suggests Peter, who is the editor of Poor Charlie’s Almanack, the Wit and Wisdom of Charlie Munger.
Peter doesn’t shy away from big statements. So far this week, we’ve looked at his answers to two big questions:
Is there a simple two-word description that accurately describes how everything in the world works?
Answer: Mirrored reciprocation.
What’s the most powerful force that we as human beings, both as individuals and groups, can potentially harness towards achieving our ends in life?
Answer: Compound interest which Peter defines as the “dogged incremental constant progress over a very long time frame.”
So, what is everyone in the world looking for?
We are all on a “quest, an odyssey, a search for that individual that [we] can 100 percent absolutely and completely trust. But who’s not just trustworthy, but principled, and courageous, and competent, and kind, and loyal, and understanding, and forgiving, and unselfish,” Peter states.
“If you ever think you may have encountered this person, you are going to probe and probe and test and test to make sure that they are real, that you’re not being fooled. And the paradox is that it looks like you’re probing for weakness, but you’re not. You’re probing for strength,” says Peter.
“And the worst day of your life is if instead of strength, you get back weakness. And now you feel betrayed. You know why? You’ve got to start your search all over again. It’s the worst thing in the whole world, isn’t it?”
What does this have to do with leadership?
Everything, Peter tells us.
“Here’s your twenty-two-second course in leadership…
“All you have to do is take that list,” Peter tells us: “Trustworthy, principled, courageous, competent, loyal, kind, understanding, forgiving, unselfish – and in every single one of your interactions with others, be the list!”
Remember how the puppy in our story yesterday went all in?
“You do this with the other human beings you encounter in life. They’re all going all in, and not because it’s your idea,” Peter observes.
“That’s all it takes. You don’t have to go to business school. You don’t need books. You don’t need guest speakers.”
He asks: How many of you want to be paid attention to? How many of you want to be listened to? How many of you want to be respected? How many of you want meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment in your life in the sense that you matter? How many of you want to be loved?”
Everybody’s exactly the same.
So, what gets in our way?
“Most people spend all day long trying to get other people to like them. They do it wrong,” Peter discerns.
“You do this list, you won’t be able to keep the people away. Everybody’s going to want to attach to you. And be willing to do what? Just like the puppy, they’d be willing to die for you. Because you are what they’ve been looking for their whole lives.”
“This is pretty profound, isn’t it?” Peter observes.
Reflection: Who is the best leader you’ve ever worked for or with? What traits made them stand out?
Action: Be that person. Today.