Trust me.

Author:Frost, Calvin
Position:LETTERS FROM the Earth

I love this: "All statements are true in some sense, false in some sense, meaningless in some sense, true and false in some sense, true and meaningless in some sense, false and meaningless in some sense and true and false and meaningless in some sense." I mean, I actually read this twice! It was written by Malaclypse the Younger, the pen name for Gregory Hill, co-author of Principia Discordia, the absurdist cult classic, published in 1965. I found a basic message if you can cut through the hyperbole, of who and how do you "trust"? Do we get the entire story? Do we get the whole truth or are we just getting bits and pieces? Does the label tell the whole story? Do we "green" the truth? When we talk about electric cars, one of our latest environmental hypes, do we consider how and where the electricity to power the car is generated? By what kind of energy? Isn't the whole truth not just the electric car but the source of energy that powers the car? Isn't this what Lester Brown is talking about, the entire truth of the "total" costs of smoking, not just the cost of the cigarette but the cost of the health care associated with an illness caused by the cigarette? Isn't that the whole truth? His point is that the "real" cost of the cigarette should include the cost of health care that will occur when the smoker gets lung cancer. Perhaps the cigarette manufacturer gets 25% of the revenue of the sale but the balance, 75%, goes into health care. I'm drifting, I know, but my point is the need for truth, not falsehood and meaningless statements. The cynic in me struggles at times to sort through it all. I find it very difficult to replace cynicism with humanism and compassion, which I have always believed are innate characteristics for leadership. You can't teach this although we try.

I know there are great leaders out there, but how many? And, I honestly don't think you can study to be a leader. I think you either have it or you don't. For sure you can improve, but deep down you either have that fire in the belly or you don't. Integrity and trust are implicit in good leadership. This has nothing to do with management or management style. One immediately senses that leaders engage their workforce with integrity and it is really what differentiates the successful company from the others.

William Deresiewicz gave a lecture to the plebe class of the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009. His title was "Solitude and Leadership: If...

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