A Recovering Wannabe

That’s me. It’s good to finally say it publicly. I assume that’s one of the steps.

I used to be what Umair Haque refers to as a “wannabe.” Umair Haque is a guy who talks a lot about leadership and how, in general, leadership as it is commonly thought of around the world today, is shit.

He wrote a very inspiring post over on HBR recently about the difference between real leaders and wannabes. Read it. Go.

Generally, wannabes:

  • want authority over others,
  • want fancy titles,
  • want the money commensurate with fancy titles (notice I/he didn’t say their performance?),
  • and DON’T want the consequences of “real” leadership.

Yep. That pretty well describes me when I figured out what I thought I wanted to do with my life somewhere around my junior year in college (business degree, of course). I wanted to be a MANAGER.

And I set out on that path straight out of school, at a major wireless carrier. Surprisingly, I wasn’t happy in that job. Or the next one. Or the next. Or the next. Each job change, I was slowly understanding why I kept moving on to something else. Those jobs were missing something.

Here’s what I was figuring out, put into much better words by Mr. Haque:

Leaders — true leaders, those worthy of the word — do the very opposite: they lead us to truth, worth, nobility, wonder, imagination, joy, heartbreak, challenge, rebellion, meaning. Through love, they lead us to lives that matter. Wannabes impoverish us. Leaders enrich us.

You should read his post. Did you? Go read it.

I came to the same conclusion Haque does: it’s all about “Love.”

love — or Love. Many of us, it’s true, choose jobs we “love” over those we don’t, readily sacrificing a few bucks here and there in the process. But this isn’t love as much as it is enjoyment. Love — true love, the real thing, big-L Love — is every bit as much painful as it is pleasant. It transforms us. …

People say you can’t run business on Love. That’s bullshit. It’s old-world, status-quo, but-the-rules-say-so nonsense. In my view, what people mean when they say that, is that you don’t have a chance at making the kind of fuck-you money that all of us are supposed to care about in a business run on Love. So, maybe in that way, they’re right? I don’t know. Don’t care. Those rules are only there for those who wish to follow them.

So, these days, I’m trying to recover from my youthful naiveté. It’s hard. But I think I am. I try to act in Love everyday to not only everyone I work with, but everyone I come across. Remember, this isn’t about being a Manager at a Company™. This is about being someone who wants others to be their better selves. It’s hard, I’m not always good at it, but I try every day.

I really encourage you to go read that post. I want us all to be real leaders, and there’s no reason we can’t be.

Share this: Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Reddit

Eric Zanol

Eric does some front-end webbing and some operations stuff at &yet. He's got an awesome wife, a two great little boys. Some of his favorite pastimes include watching the Seahawks, drooling over fancy cars, and "gadgets."

Liked this post? Follow this blog to get more.