Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Raising failed leaders

People need leaders, and raising a leader is very much a shot in the dark. It is a shared universal trait mothers have to instinctively want to raise a leader. Parents are ecstatic towards a 2 year old who can calculate arithmetic, boast with pride when a 6 year old wins a public speech competition for juniors, yelling their lungs out at pre-school ice hockey match. Parents (almost) never worry a child hovers high above the norm. That explains why children are raised to go to scouts camp (training them to fit in the norm) though secretly parents wish nothing else than the many merit badges their child might get at the end of the summer. The child, having mastered the art of making fire out of two dried sticks, becomes an entertaining ice breaker when it comes to boast about a child’s trophies to thy neighbors and relatives. It isn’t just the parents who are egocentric or puerile or project all their pent up frustration for having failed, turning their kid into super stars. For even the most conscientious parent, a survival instinct to assure the future will provide leaders.

But I think we taking this abnormally far.

How can I explain parents praising their super smart kids, annoyed at their average kid averaging on average, and giving up on those trailing behind? (Except for when genetic instinct kicks in.) How can I explain parents’ urge to rear a winner while as teenagers they admired the losers (cool) kids, and later as a working people, came to despise the smart ones getting all the attention (and promotion—and kissing ass, how else?), alienating those who might think outside the box, using degrading small talk and ill-intended gossip?

Why would average parents wish for their child a future of alienation and loneliness? Perhaps simply because rearing leaders is more desirable than the well being of a child. The natural instinct supersedes common sense. (My exploration goes on about natural instinct i.e. my clock is ticking all I can smell is my future cafe au lait baby’s skin...)

Almost everybody is being raised to become a leader. Almost everybody fails. The failed leaders fall back into average society with sometimes a head start on life, and sometimes a slight gap to bridge to reach the norm. Failed leaders become team players in various layers of authority, insuring plenty of “vice” managers, and project leaders. In the order of things, failed leaders also have their role to play.

I think now though, we are training too many leaders, having way too many failed leaders in the game. I think we're training the failed leaders too long, thwarting the natural order of things (the failed leaders normally drop out of the leader race in due course). We tie the failed leaders to the back of a jeep and trail them against their best interest on a one way track removing them from the normal average, only to drop them back in the mass, without any skills preparing them for it. Failed leaders who took the long ride back home are maladapted socialites. They have been trained to stand out as the best. Not to stick out for each other.
What we are creating now, with over-educated people* is a race of dissocialized humans.

Having discussed earlier that humans need order to live on, I admit gloom when a compound of order-seeking humans breed sharp competitors, poor collaborators, advocate “nothing is done for free”, swear under contracts , integrity going out of fashion. Envy replaces companionship. Failed leaders coming out of the race with an ego in check might end up as loners, feeling at loss for a purpose, having no clue how to socialize let alone endure a healthy amorous relationship.

I assume it never was a piece of cake raising a child. I wonder if outperforming has always been the norm. It isn’t healthy judging by the number of burned out citizens out there. It isn’t normal. Education ambassadors need to look at the Frankensteins they create, and wonder if they couldn’t come up with more “girl next door”.

On the paradox of the norm vs the norm, my exploration goes on.

*note: the author values education and educators. There also is a lot going on with knowledge, wisdom, peace and serenity, and culture. These issues are not taught in educational institution, on average.

(My new apartment, my wine, my food, my music, my bed, my dog next to me, my bed sheets....24 Sept. 07, Beijing)