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In all Sincerity


The Las Vegas Strip on a calm, Autumn morning

“The need to be right may be covering something wrong.”

Leadership is not the only thing which makes a community, nation, or even a business great. In last week’s article, (click here to read it) the duties and responsibilities of those being led were also considered. One person, no matter how great that leader is, cannot account for the success of the whole without inspiring the group to act.

Determination can be a huge factor in the success of a leader and that resolve will often  permeate throughout the group. Is it possible, however, for a leader to be so resolute towards an idea that it ultimately becomes divisive and corrodes some of its original intentions?

There are times when we believe in something so strongly that it would make sense for everyone else to feel almost the same. Nothing, in that belief, is self-serving and because its sole purpose is for good, logic would dictate that anyone who feels otherwise would be wrong. Allow me to explain with a personal example.

Many of you know I wrote a book about how I discovered my own shame controlled my thoughts and actions without my complete understanding. The book chronicled how I was able to overcome it and begin to heal. The result was a spiritual journey far greater than I could have ever imagined and now dedicate my life to helping others have a similar experience.

What I also learned was that no matter how miraculous that transformation was, I cannot expect that all others experience theirs in a similar way. At times, my zeal only chased some away. It confounded me at first. There was no question it was how my healing began and I figured others needed to experience it in a similar way. It was right for me and since there was nothing self-serving about discovering my own faults, it ought to be true for everyone else.

I’ve termed this style of reasoning as “benevolent ignorance”: when someone is certain he or she has only the best of intentions with no personal gain, that it develops into a resolve where everyone else must think that same way and those thinking differently are simply flat wrong.

We can often find examples by examining our own recent pasts. Frequently, we expect others to reason and think as we do although that is the quickest way to destroy a relationship. We haven’t walked in their shoes, traveled their same paths, and cannot always understand how those experiences formed their own opinions. Assuming or expecting them to come to our same conclusions is ignorant, no matter how benevolent we believe ours to be.

That is not to say being resolute or certain is wrong. Clearly we must trust in our beliefs but requiring and demanding others do the same will often produce contrary outcomes. All of us have the right to our own opinions but only a dictator can force theirs on those who are being led.

Thanks as always and I look forward to your comments.

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