'You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run.'
- The Gambler, Kenny Rogers
President Obama is disappointed in me.
In you. In all of us.
He's trying to lead the World.
And our inertia is frustrating him.
St Benedict reluctantly abandoned his sixth century hermit life after monks pleaded with him to become the Abbot of their monastery.
He set doing what he'd been asked to do - lead the monks.
They rebelled and tried to kill him.
Benedict defied the hero leader model.
He shrugged his shoulders and walked out.
As Gregory the Great explains in his Dialogues on the life of the Saint, if he hadn't done so, Benedict risked 'losing himself' and 'not found them.' If you 'perceive [your] labour to be fruitless in one place....remove straight to another, where more good may be done.'
Benedict went on to found twelve more monasteries, perform many miracles, and most importantly for us, write his Rule of St Benedict, containing everything he'd learned about how to live in community under the authority of an Abbot. His Rule influenced the secular rule of law in Western Europe and beyond. All because he abandoned his leadership post.
One of the many myths in Leadership Lore is that leaders don't quit.
Giving up is the antithesis of mythical leadership.
So leaders persist beyond when they should have followed Benedict and 'removed' themselves.
If you're a leader and no-one is following - hand in your badge.
Even the well-meaning leaders keep standing at our cell door they've opened for us, frustrated that we won't budge. (I'm looking at you, President Obama.)
The bad ones rely on positional power and our need for currency and calories.
Both losing themselves and everyone who suffers them.
If the President of the United States can feel that we've let him down, so can you.
Leader or worker:
If your labour is fruitless
If you're out of aces.
Go and give reforming Western Europe a go. It might be easier.
Or stay and do your job.
But whatever you do -
Don't quit and stay.