The Most Dangerous Leadership Weakness

An amazing analysis of capability and how it ties into ego. Ego itself is the biggest destroyer I have seen in my experience. NO wonder Al Pacino says “vanity is my favorite sin”


The Prince, The Joker & The Thief

The Joker reminisced to the Thief.

“Back in the eighties when my master, the King, swung his masterful whip over this place, I had a great time. Everyone came to me. They recognized that I could approach the throne. Things went well. I was able to set up connections and have you seen the factories and businesses that exist today. It was hard work and my net worth today is well over a billion dollars. Then it all changed”.

There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief;
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth;
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth…

“Today businessmen they drink at my table, partake of my paye’ and yet none of them know what any of it is worth. Things are not the same.

I have taken such hits”, complained the Joker to the Thief.

They say that I have hardly paid any taxes. How can I pay taxes, when I do not make enough to sustain myself? There is no King to work with, and to be truthful, I am not good at playing the King. Things go awry. Witness my attempt 15 years ago. They kicked me out and even distributed sweets in my hometown on my departure. Taken years for me to turn it around”.

No reason to get excited, the thief he kindly spoke
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.

The Thief, he smiled a broad smile, adjusted his spectacle  and spoke kindly to the Joker.

“Now, now! Nothing to be sad about. No reason to get excited. Let’s not talk falsely now. We have done well over 25 years, you and I. You in your own way, I in mine. We have been brought up to grab opportunities and that is our way. And we can live together. My art has been thievery and I do it well. Infact, if I say so myself I am quite a master at it.”

He continued…

“My move was to steal the heart of a Princess. That was a really profitable venture. Ended up yielding billions. Lots of factories, business and palaces. Yes not to forget the palaces and chateau! Things went well and then the Princess started objecting. She had grandiose notions about herself and how she would change things. But then luck played its part once more. I notice it does in my case. The Princess was killed and they were looking for someone to take the role of the Princess, Lady luck smiled and here I am.

Now you and I know this game of opportunities. We can work this together, advised the Thief. We just need to cooperate and be patient. We have enough money and if we take turns, we could be in the driving seat for at least another decade. By then we will have collected our dues and can go off in old age to live somewhere else and retire. You to your paye, me to my indulgences.”

“But what to do about the Prince and barefoot servants?” cried the Joker. “The Prince is dangerous and the barefoot servants are not behaving like their usual self. The Prince has been doing things all his life. He has made us known worldwide. Leading us, he won that great competition, then has set up a hospital and universities and then he was trusted with the floods rehabilitation, while no one trusted us. Even I have to agree that he is honest and sincere. Suppose he gets hold of real power?”

“There are many here among us, who think life is but a joke”, laughed the Thief. “Otherwise who would trust us? But see the barefoot servants are odd. They have some well read people who oppose the Prince. They have a foreign liberal point of view. All their lives they have been educated in a different school and have forgotten what they really are. The rest are uneducated. So we use the liberal ones to break the rest and what ever resistance is left, we use our money to buy it out. Will work like magic. Ten years later when nothing is left, they will wake up too late. We will be gone by then”.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

Unbeknownst to all the characters in the place, outside in the distance, two riders were approaching and the wind began to howl. The riders were at war with status quo, battle dancing on their faces. One was Extreme Religion and the other was Anarchy. They were coming nearer and none of the incumbents were even aware of this approaching calamity.

Inspired by Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” written in 1966. Any resemblance to present day situation or characters is absolutely coincidental. There is no such thing as barefoot servants- no one can be that foolish in real life.

Ah, look at all the lonely people!

Ah, look at all the lonely people!

An alien looking down from outer space will definitely give the place a second look. He will see this green patch in the midst of a concrete jungle, with two concentric circles running at the outer limit of the patch. The alien would probably focus down and come to the conclusion that the place is some sort of holy ground. For, he would see scores of people, running or walking in these concentric circles. Curiouser and curiouser, the ones in the inner circle would be going in counter clockwise direction, while the outer travel clockwise. Clearly the inner ones are more venerable and deserve a higher status in this religious ritual.


The alien of course is wrong. This is just a neighborhood park, where hundreds walk and jog on the tracks, to try and achieve some sort of health nirvana. The hope being that the longer you walk, the more fit you are and the longer one shall live. Some like me come to work off a couple of decades of excesses, as I traveled much, exercised little and ate all sorts of hotel food at ungodly hours. A balance in the scale of comfort is achieved over the course of a lifetime. If you do not look after your body, then it means more pain later in life -whether though illness or hard exercise is a toss-up.


Even in this park there come some, who are there for a fringe benefit rather than health itself. They come looking for diversion, company and to connect to a world, which seems to have forgotten and passed them by. These are the ones who are lonely in their homes, offices and life’s daily ritual…for they are facing a test which humanity is grappling with more and more, as life becomes urban, commercial and the span increases.


As I walk and jog in my daily effort, one of my pastimes and distractions is to notice these people and build stories around their life. It is an insightful way to while away the minutes, as one day soon, I too will face this battle and it is better to come prepared. 


“Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door, who is it for? All the lonely people


She walks around in a determined style, and the grace is still there. Flowing and let free behind her is her white hair. Along with the fine lines, still visible on her face, and her purposeful stride, she gives the image of a Shakespearean dramatic character.  Need I say more? Lo! you catch her eye she will look away and deliberately ignores one. This beauty of yester years is tired of the world and wants to have nothing to do with it. Each day she gets up, puts on her face and goes out to face the world. A world old and jaded and she has little left to say, her enthusiasm long dissipated. What tragedies and pains have brought her to this pass; she could have a bevy of young grandchildren surrounding her, pampering and caring for her every need. It is indeed sad to note. 


Father Mckenzie writing the words of a sermon, that no one will hear! no one comes near


I come across another person. He used to be the CEO of a large organization just 15 years ago. People hung on to his lead and words. They came to listen and follow his orders. Some smiled when he looked at them. Others lowered their eyes. Now he looks around as he trundles in the park. His walk is a slouch of old age and he knows his time has gone. His eyes beg askance for someone to talk to him, just someone, to give him a little bit of time and notice. Alas all, including myself want to avoid him, as his pace is slow and conversation out of date. He has much to tell of his experience and knowledge.


Father Mckenzie wiping the dirt from his hand, as he walks from grave, no one was saved


Then the huge, fat man; I remember he was a private equity guy and invested money at hard returns to people. He drove his bargains and had his pound of flesh. But he never reckoned with a global recession and being side lined. So he tramps like a giant with a cigar in his mouth. He does not care about what the world is doing to him, he has long made peace with himself and reconciled to living alone and indifferent. The fat man is different from the other two…he has lost, but is defiant. He has washed his hands off people. Only people do know he has lost and when he is gone they snigger behind his back.


But in all this gloom there is a family I see. Man, wife and a teenager. Holding hands, laughing, walking together; Soft! The son is mentally challenged and the parents hold his hand lovingly. They have made a life out of their tragedy. There laughter and life fills the park and makes one feel that even the lonely desperate people have a place. Most of all they give hope to all of us, that this is a life worth making and living. Bless them!

*Based on the song Eleanor Rigby, by Beatles and several walks in the park.


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