"Once you learn to fake sincerity, the rest is easy" — an old, cynical joke that contains an element of great truth. It speaks to many realms:

  • "Leaders" who pretend to have courage and confidence in their decisionmaking instincts, their abilities to read people, and their magical vision;
  • "Celebrities" who hide their insecurities, shamelessly self-promote (or hire toadies to do it for them), flaunt artificially-enhanced physical charms, and deliver witticisms written by others as if they were original;
  • "Authorities" who exaggerate their certainty and expertise, boast of successes, conveniently forget mistakes, and thrust themselves forward to provide sound bites and shallow aphorisms.

True (no quote-marks!) leaders, celebrities, and authorities do exist. They differ from their fake "kin" in that real ones are recognized by others, not annointed by themselves. Good leadership is chosen by its followers, based not on platitudes but on deeds, honesty, and mutual respect. Worthy celebrities shine by their modesty, charity, and the substance of their work. Genuine authorities are sought out for their advice — which rarely comes neatly packaged as bumper sticker slogans. Honest counsel is framed with caveats and disclaimers. Real expertise, in all domains, recognizes its own limitations.

Monday, December 27, 1999 at 05:48:36 (EST) = 1999-12-27

TopicSociety - TopicOrganizations

(correlates: PowerAsPerception, WhateverYouWant, Twitter Poetry, ...)