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Abracadabra, Who Are You?

On June 19, 2010, in Leadership Impact, by Neculai Fantanaru

In order to know the reality, a leader must also master the art of dissimulation – a fearful weapon, but efficient in most situations.

In a previous article, "By all the rules of the art", I told you about the young prince Hamlet, who, wanting to avenge his father's death, took the strange decision of pretending to be completely out of his mind. With an unequaled ingenuity, Hamlet played his role perfectly, making everybody at the court, and especially King Claudius, his uncle, whom he suspected of his father's homicide, to believe that the real cause of his madness was the love for his lover, Ofelia.

Completely absorbed by the words of his father's ghost, who had told him in the smallest detail how the crime was committed, and driven by the instinct that only people who want vengeance have, Hamlet initiated an immediate attitude change, adopting an intimidating behavior for absolutely everybody, except his best friend, Horatio. Moreover, being a creative and enterprising nature, he succeeded not only in catching attention, but even to provoke anxiety for the entire imperial court.

The French moralist François de la Rochefoucauld made a short definition by which he emphasized a great truth: "The highest art of skillful man is to know how to hide his skills".

Hamlet could not prove the guilt of his uncle Claudius, if he had not adopted a very good strategy, although risky from many points of view. For only by subtlety he could defeat his enemy. Very skillful and clever, he prepared everything with special care, finding an intelligent and efficient way of hiding his vulnerabilities. Furthermore, taking that false mask of a madman, and playing his role with the skillfulness of an exceptional actor, he managed to cast away all doubts.

The supreme ability of keeping under control the minds of people consists in knowing very well the human psychology. The mask that Hamlet took, helped him reach his goal without giving rise to any suspicion. However, he had to enter his role both physically, as well as mentally, thus making to disappear the most visible trace of his true face, of his true intentions, which naturally accompanied his preparations for the unmasking of his father's killer.

Leadership: Can you represent your conception of your own self in a situation of conflict with the intentions you are considering, in an attempt to take control of a dangerous or uncertain situation?

A mask of appearances. To put on a mask in order to surprise your enemy's secrets, to gain his confidence and nothing else to do than to take her off in order to bring his doom. This is, in short, Hamlet's vengeance plan. Acting under this mask of appearances, behaving just his role told him to – by gestures and attitudes, lying with his body, just as others lie with their mouths, combining the truth with the falsehood– in the limit of plausibility, he handled skillfully and confidently the art of dissimulation.

You are never better disguised, more capable of distorting reality and diverting the attention of people than when you hide under a new look. Under his mask, of the weak and defeated man, with no character, of the man not prepared for the life of a leader, however, was hiding a tough character, unyielding, unforgiving with his enemies. Maybe this was the cause for which Hamlet managed to impose himself so well in front of everybody. Everything depended on the way he behaved – in such a way that he showed that the reality he lived in was completely different from other people's reality.

The self you want to project to the world, in order to recover the causal relationship between the act and the reward involved in a moment that is favorable to you in terms of interpersonal relationships, in an abundance of linear curves, accompanied and intersected by landslides and uncertainties, is a reversal of your morale and traits, not what others see when they look at you.

This self forces false feelings that make you feel better, but they will lie to you in order to satisfy their own desire, to see you defeated. As you well know, Hamlet gets close to madness, simulating madness and embodying the denial of reason.

Leadership: Can you become a reflection of truth through your intentions in handling a reality that denies human comprehension?

Hamlet had the ability to choose his play and role. His great contribution consisted in that he conceived the play and played the main character. The play he created must train, move and please the audience, and so it happened. However, for the play to be well individualized, and in order to turn into a full success, he had to take into account permanently the plausibility of the presented happenings. In other words, everything had to look as real, and as natural as possible.

In his case, truth was nothing but a dissimulated servitude, which he used in order to subdue others. Arousing feelings of pity and compassion by his theatrical play, he strongly engraved in the minds of his spectators the reality he wanted, to his feast and use. His fake behavior that he adopted helped him reach the aim he proposed for himself. The manipulation of reality was the manner that he obtained results.

A reality that denies human comprehension is a catalyst for the potential for action at the level of deed, thought, and feeling that is manifested by the association of a depressed state.

The categorical reconstruction of such a reality is sanctioned by a fall into the abyss of a wholly unfulfilled desire that causes slow spiritual death, that is, separation from God and the transition to a state of irrationality of sin.

Abracadabra, who are you? Represents the mystery you need to unravel when you turn into someone else, into an individual who seems to have no connection with one before.

Leaders, just like most people, adopt attitudes and behaviors adequate to usual situations. However, in unusual situations, when instinct shows them that something is not as it seems, the cleverest ones seek to know pure reality by adopting a mask behind which, however, vigilance is awake and the ability of analysis is deeper than ever.

I refer here to the situations when a leader feels that someone hiders him, that he is being sabotaged either from inside the team, either from outside it. In consequence, in order to know the reality, a leader must also master the art of dissimulation – a fearful weapon, but efficient in most situations.


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