The leader can succeed. The leader can also fail.
Between Success and Failure
More often than not, the world celebrates the successful leader and castigates the one who fails. The followers too applaud the leader who succeeds and distance themselves from the one who fails. The paradox of life is that we fail more than we succeed as a leader.
Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” What the wizard of Menlo Park was saying was he failed several times while attempting the electric bulb before he succeeded to give the world the incandescent light bulb.
The difference between success and failure is paper thin. If you conduct a survey of leaders who succeed or fail, a common denominator that separates them is vigilance.
Vigilance is the metaphor for the Ides of March.
The Ides of March
Since the days of Julius Caesar, the Ides of March has come to be identified with leadership, the dangers they face and the need for vigilance.
In their finest moments, leaders at the height of their exploits are humans.
According to Wikipedia, Ides of March was a day on the ancient Roman calendar, and it corresponds to March 15. The Ides of March had become notorious as the date that Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44BC.
As recorded by Plutarch, Julius Caesar was assassinated when he was stabbed to death 23 times at a meeting of the senate by as many as 60 conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius. A Seer named Spurinna had forewarned Caesar that he would be harmed no later than the Ides of March. He shouted to Caesar, “Beware, the Ides of March!”
On his way to the Theater of Pompey where he would be assassinated, Caesar reportedly passed by Spurinna and mocked him that his prophecy did not come to pass. He said, “The Ides of March have come.” Spurinna responded, “Aye, Caesar, but not gone.” Caesar did not live to see the next day. He was brutally assassinated. And, his death resulted in crisis in the Roman Republic which culminated in a civil war.
The Cost of Eternal Vigilance
There are dangerous landmines on the path of leadership. Being a leader is not a joke. You have a sacred duty to yourself, your people and the society to be watchful.
Wendell Phillips said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” We can also add that eternal watchfulness is the price of freedom.
Every leader has a responsibility to “Beware, the Ides of March”.
The Ides of March as a metaphor present diverse temptations and comfort the way of leaders to render them ineffectual in their personal pursuit and service to humanity.
Do Not Give Up
When you are tempted to give up on your dreams, “Beware, the Ides of March”. The thoughts of discouragement will spring up in your heart. The closer you are to your breakthrough the stronger the urge to pack up your tent and quit.
Are you a leader? Never ever give up. That urge to give up is a trap! Do not fail for it. You are just three feet away from gold – your goal.
You remember the story of the man who gave up his quest for gold too soon during the California Gold Rush as told in the book, Think and Grow Rich?
For months, the man went about prospecting for gold in the hills. His gut feelings told him he would hit gold. He would get up early and went to work: digging, and digging using simple tools. He got little gold but not his dream fortune.
Then, he finally gave up digging because he convinced himself that he could not find the fortune he was searching for. So, he sold out to a prospector who heard about his story.
The prospector brought in experts (surveyor, engineer and geologist) and went to work where the man had been digging. The prospector struck huge deposit of gold after just three feet of drilling.
Believe in yourself. Believe in your venture. If it is not working, do not quit. Step back, and find out why things are not working for you instead of quitting. You may be closer to your fortune than you imagine!
Shake Off Complacency
When you are tempted to give in to a life of comfort and complacency, leader, “Beware, the Ides of March.” Growth, progress, technology and change can introduce you to a life of comfort. You can become complacent.
Leadership that will succeed requires mental alertness, stamina, perseverance and courage. You are not in Elysium yet. You are not in Paradise. You are on a journey. Leadership is not a destination.
Do not be lured into become sloppy. Shake off your complacency. You are gradually become careless. You are no longer paying attention to details. Wake up from your slumber.
The competition is tougher now. People are becoming more sophisticated. Your customers are more demanding. The society, more complex. You cannot afford to become comfortable with your success. Wake up, challenge your success.
Jack Welch said, “If you are still doing things now the same way you did them five years ago, you are doing something wrong.”
Manage Conflict in Your Team
When there is infighting within your team, leader, “Beware, the Ides of March.” A tree cannot make a forest. You need your team to work together before you can succeed. The enemy within is that conflict in the team if not properly managed.
Believe in your team. Believe in their diversity. Learn to manage their conflicts. Partisan spirit will polarize and destroy your team, and ultimately your cause.
Leaders, “Beware, the Ides of March.”
Resolve today, March 15, 2015 as a leader: I will not allow anything to destroy my dreams, I am closer to my dreams than when I first started; I will not be complacent, I have to become more competitive than ever; I will not allow poor conflict resolution skills to ruin my team, they are critical to my success as a leader.
Author: Babatunde Fajimi
Article was originally published in The Union Newspaper under CEO Mentorship of Sunday, March 15, 2015.