Sunday, October 31, 2004

Fascination with leadership

It's the INFP thing about making the world a better place. It's seeking teamwork and a community focused and aligned by shared purpose. It's my experiences making things happen using my own models in broke-down, ate-up situations, and my doubts, failures and successes in those experiences. It's the bowling team, the Army, USMAPS and West Point, and then 9/11 at Columbia. It's my inheritance from my father. It's wondering at emerging patterns, my seemingly natural, even selected, role as the 2nd in command, the staff NCO, the assistant team captain, VP, the Plt Sgt, even as the natural Little John in pre-school playing 2nd to the natural Robin Hood in class. Of my own initiatives, success in the short-term, but rarely (any?) achievements lasting with longevity. Well-liked and respected, but never popular. It's all of that.

I know I can be an organizer, an activist, a facilitator and enabler, a coach and advisor, and with some messiness, even an operator. But a leader? I don't know that. How do they do it? What sets them apart from me? Is it just a matter of will and character, that I lack? Is it charisma, personal appeal? A better work ethic? Stronger convictions, higher self-confidence? Better salesmanship? Are they just smarter, savvier? More practical, more calculating? Better organized? More principled? Better focused? What do the natural and effective leaders have that I lack? Why do some people effortlessly carry leadership appeal like my Beast roommate while I'm just a background player until I assert myself?

Add it up, and I have a strong fascination with the nature, the science and the art of leadership. Changing the world. Making things happen. Guiding collective action. Translating the one into a greater whole and a higher purpose. The things I want to achieve in my life, even if I only know them essentially yet formlessly at this point, require leadership.

I wonder if there's a major that encompasses the study of leadership at Columbia U, and how otherwise I can pursue that interest? Where do I begin?

UPDATE 12/06/04: An opinion piece I wrote on leadership, Leaders and Lanes, for the Columbia Spectator. Enjoy.

- Eric

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