I discovered a few years ago that I have a special provenance. I’ve always known that I was born to Donald and Valorie Bear in the early morning hours of August 20th, in the year 1974 at Jamestown Hospital in North Dakota. I was just shy of 6 pounds, and was delivered by the same doctor that delivered my mom and my dad and two of my three siblings. Already sounds pretty special, but not so much in rural ND - Dr. Lucy delivered nearly all the babies around there for 50 years! No, the special provenance I’m referencing was discovered only in 2016 when I learned that 1974 is the year of the Tiger in the Chinese Calendar. So...my August 20th birthday makes me a Leo, and because my family name is Bear, I am...wait for it...Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My!
It’s true. I am lions and tigers and bears, oh my. What could this say about me? What could this signify for my future?!
I Googled the Leo characteristics -
Oh, shit...this hits pretty close to home. But I guess I like most of what I’m reading here.
So I moved on to the Tiger characteristics (thanks Google) :
A strong start, and fairly accurate I guess...but later I didn’t like what I was seeing as much. Talkative, well, yeah, but...I’ve got so many things to say. Stubborn, Aggressive, Self-ego...well, I...well, I guess kinda. Active, Decisive, Leadership - now that’s more like it! Liver Disease, Congestion, Depression - well, I drank too much for a few years there, and I am kinda stuffy most mornings, and well, when I was eating humble pie nearly every day for a few years there I was pretty depressed, but I am much better now.
So, I moved on to the Bear, and found Advice From a Bear.
Some highlights were:
So, less specific and perhaps not relevant at all - fun though, and I do love my Honey Bear!
Where I’m going with all this is that I’m a mix of many things as a person and as a leader, some good, and some not as good. We all have a mix of gifts and shortcomings, whether determined by horoscope astrology or the Chinese New Year, or more truly by our own genetics and formative environment, and bended and molded by our experiences and interactions with others during adulthood. Having an accurate view of oneself is difficult - we only really define ourselves in the context of others and can often see ourselves most clearly through other’s eyes.
My lead-in referenced the August leader, in light of the season, and though it’s a familiar term I didn’t really know what it meant (True Confession: I just wanted to use the word August in the lead-in title for our August Newsletter!). So, again to the Google - to learn that august refers to being marked by majestic dignity or grandeur. Other definitions referenced consecrated or venerated, respected and impressive. Think Augustus Caesar.
It’s difficult these days to find the august leader. The impressive, consecrated and majestic leader. Our news stories (depending on which of the slanted perspective(s) you choose from) are filled with praise and criticism of nearly every political leader - one person’s patron saint is another’s pariah. Our business leaders are often fearful of showing their true selves and sharing their opinions - fearing boycotts and walkouts or the dreaded twitterstorm!
So, too many leaders at all levels remain silent or shallow, lest they risk the terrible backlash of being outspoken. Worse still, is the absence of new ideas due to the fear of being wrong - a poison pill for a government or political career. So the big ideas are shelved before they are even opened up, and many are scared to say what they think.
The thing is, great leaders know that the path to success is paved with a mix of failures and successes, and that big ideas and new ventures sometimes fail - but we learn. The truth is, the best leaders I know don’t consider themselves to be an august leader - venerated, full of grandeur, impressive - the person with all the answers. The best leaders I know are humble and modest; open to feedback and other’s perspectives and even to being wrong. They are kind and empathetic and connect with the people around them at their level. They are servants, not monarchs. We might welcome the demise, then, of the august leader, and celebrate the accession of the servant leader. Because all men and women are fallible, and when great leaders look at themselves they don’t see someone with all the answers.
At the same time - though our business and political leaders are not full of grandeur, and sometimes not all that impressive - I would restore a call that they be respected. Leadership can be a lonely role, full of fears and insecurities and unfounded criticisms. Those who lift that cup deserve our appreciation and due respect even if not our veneration.
- Curt Bear
Founder, LoCo Think Tank