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The Two Sides Of The Soul

On December 01, 2010, in Leadership Plus, by Neculai Fantanaru

Shape your soul carefully by polishing the good side of you and not letting the dark to intervene.

In the famous book "Secrets of Success" the writer Dale Carnegie tells a story about Abraham Lincoln's life.

On the night of July 4, 1763, during the Battle of Gettysburg, General Lee and his defeated army began withdrawing to the south under a torrential rain. Once they were stuck in the Potomac River because that came out of bed and could not be crossed. Lee was caught in the trap.

Abraham Lincoln understood perfectly. This was the great and unique opportunity that he had waited so long, to capture Lee's army and to end the war. Hopefully, he ordered General George Gordon Meade, the man of his hope, to attack Lee immediately. However, Meade did exactly the opposite: he was reluctant, postponed, refused to attack Lee, finding all sorts of excuses, and finally the waters receded, and Lee, with the rest of his army managed to cross the Potomac.

Ablaze with anger, very disappointed because Meade had not the courage to apply the coup de grace to Lee, to finally defeat him, although he had in hand, Lincoln wrote this letter to Meade:

"I do not think that you are aware of the disaster's consequences of Lee's escape. We had him in hands and his capture, coupled with our recent victories, would have ended the war. In terms of the present the conflict will be extended for an indefinite term. If you have not been able to attack Lee last Monday, when you were not exposed to risks, how could you do this trick in the south of the river where you cannot carry only a small part - no more than two thirds - of the forces that you disposed then? It would not be wise to pretend, and I will not pretend that you will have success this time. You have wasted your opportunity, and this failure strongly marked me."

Leadership: Can you direct your thoughts to the feelings you experience in moments of hardship, so as to attract the events you will experience in a context of the type "character landmark"?

The great Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once said a great truth: "What we say is not always like us." General Meade had never seen this letter because apparently Lincoln never sent it. The letter was found among his papers after death.

Perhaps, before sending the letter, Lincoln looked in the mirror, placed face to face with himself, what he really was, with his own feelings and values, and had thought carefully if it is good or not to say everything he had on his mind.

Putting himself for a moment in the place of General Meade, watching the things from his perspective – of a shy man who had been through so many battles, and that had seen so much death before his eyes, whose eardrums had been pierced by screams and bellows of the wounded and dying – and truly listening to his heart, Lincoln finally decided not to relieve his anger, keeping the letter in his office.

For a moment Lincoln had seen the two hidden sides of his soul: good and bad. He could harshly judge Meade after his exploits, and admonish him, wounding his feelings - which would oblige him to leave the army. Even so, Lincoln being gifted with a great empathetic power, he took into account more the good part of his soul, considering the feelings of his General.

Lincoln managed to reveal his angels and demons in the mirror - the good side and dark side of his soul. However, he did not allow his negative side to affect the proper functioning of his leadership. There is an interval between stimulus and response, and the key to an effective leadership is how we use that time, and if we opt for the right decision.

Leadership: Do you have the courage to give up on any attempt to defeat your impulses without distorting the image of clarity with which you perceive your mistakes in the hostile space of regrets?

Do you devote yourself strongly to remedy the defects of your character that does not let people to evolve towards being new models to follow?

If you are a very good leader, then you commit wholeheartedly to remedy the defects of your character. Just as a sculptor self-possessed with a strong passion shape his creative figure with subtle gestures, calculated, highly possessed, and stops finishing every detail, so you have to shape your own soul carefully listening to your inner voice, with great patience, "polishing" the good side of you and not letting it interfere with the dark one. Never let negative emotions to gain ground in front of your own consciousness.

You think you know everything about people? You are wrong if you think so. In fact, you may not know anything about them. Moreover, if you want with all your heart, and if you have enough patience, you will be able to look the things from their perspective. And this is the first thing you must do for your leadership to work better: to change your attitude and thinking, analyzing any situation through the prism of others.

There will be a permanent state of lurking between you and the people around you. And if you are like those harsh leaders who, with a sort of mischievous satisfaction, discharge their anger on each person who fails to execute their orders with holiness, you will be put in a pretty bad light. Open your heart before you judge people by their deeds, before jolting their confidence. There must be a trace of kindness and empathy in you, is not it?

In leadership, we discover an unpredictable abundance of situations in which the deformation or oversimplification of a fragment of man’s character that challenges the backbone of the obligation to be the main witness to the drama of his own isolation or alienation.

The two sides of the soul are, in essence, related to your inner aspect, invisible to others, but at a moment comes to light. They are the coordinates that define you as a person, respectively as a leader that describe your character, your beautiful and dark features, and contribute to your success in the medium and long term. However, the two sides of your soul will always fight; one will struggle to understand other people's feelings, the other one to ignore them. Your dominant traits will be those that will influence the decisions that you will make.

Conclusion: It is said that all we are made from a Ying and a Yang component which should always be in balance. Even so, there are times when one of them is dominant. If we let ourselves dominated by one of them, we risk failing in our decisions.

Permanently make the effort to know the two parts of your soul, especially those related to negative aspects to correct them because they can sometimes lead to catastrophic decisions. Remember that the best leaders are wholeheartedly committed to remedy the defects related to their character.

* Note: Dale Carnegie - Secretele Succesului, Editura Curtea Veche, 2002.


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