Great leaders are revered. Some of them have legacies which live on for thousands of years after their death. This kind of leadership doesn't come to the faint of heart. No, this level of authority is reserved for the conquerors. Those who, with great strength and unwavering vision, break down walls and unify ideas, people and nations.
You think you want to be a leader? First, spend some time learning how to conquer from four of the greats.
- Start with Confucius, conquering your own mind.
- Then, smash through your perceived limitations with Bruce Lee.
- Third, add strategy to your strength as you prepare for battle with Sun Tzu.
- Finally, learn from Genghis Khan that while the front lines may require brutality, the home front demands peace and happiness.
The Quote: Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.
Who Said It: Confucius
Who Are They: A professional thinker, Confucius is the father of Confucianism, the way of life considered to be a primary component of the social code and value system of the Chinese. Even 2,000 years later, his teachings continue to be a source of inspiration for those seeking an all-encompassing way of life, showing respect to tradition while also encouraging new and inquisitive thought.
Our Perspective: Setting aside the fact that he found a way to combine three words into one (seriously, wheresoever, are you allowed to do that?), Confucius packs a punch with this short statement. Notice his duplication of the word "Go," and his obvious exclusion of specific direction. He speaks instead to the manner in which you go. When it comes to your brand, it's not a fixed point on a map. It's an ever moving target, which ebbs and flows along with the evolution of your company. You will reach your destination not by blindly setting a GPS, but by always staying true to the heart of your brand, the big why. Your purpose will be found in your passion.
The Quote: As you think, so shall you become.
Who Said It: Bruce Lee
Who Are They: Standing a mere 5’8’’ tall, Bruce Lee didn’t have the benefit of relying on physical stature to win his battles.Yet he’s known for being a wall breaker, both literally and culturally. Time magazine described Lee this way, "With nothing but his hands, feet and a lot of attitude, he turned the little guy into a tough guy." Although he died prematurely at the young age of 32, his films and philosophy catapulted Chinese martial arts into U.S. mainstream popularity (i.e. he saved us from another decade of country westerns).
Our Perspective: Bruce Lee graduated from the University of Washington after studying drama and philosophy. He believed holistic training (mind, body, soul) was one of the most neglected aspects of athletics, "Too much time is given to the development of skill and too little to the development of the individual for participation." His quote reminds us that the mind is a battlefield. Whether we're talking about brand awareness, customer reputation, future goals or the unifying mission of the organization, there's power in our thoughts.
The Quote: Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
Who Said It: Sun Tzu
Who Are They: Widely accepted as the primary author of "The Art of War," his book has been required reading for leaders who understand there is no victory without strategy. These writings cover the battlefield, but also public administration, planning, diplomacy and the importance of building strong relationships with other nations. Sun Tzu's teachings give credence to the notion that brains and brawn can coexist successfully, and one without the other brings a dangerous imbalance.
Our Perspective: Have everyone scoot over a bit to make room, and give your brand framework a seat at the boardroom table. It should be your strategic backdrop and the unifying anchor for your tactics. Branding is not simply an exercise in thinking, nor is it all about execution. The best brands blend the two seamlessly and maintain this balance, even in the most dire of circumstances.
The Quote: A leader can never be happy until his people are happy.
Who Said It: Genghis Khan
Who Are They: Considered by many to be one of the most fearsome rulers in history, Khan dedicated his life to growing and unifying the Mongol empire. His war tactics of genocide and brutality were balanced by a strong belief in meritocracy and his progressive views on religious tolerance. Shortly after he died in 1227, the Mongol Empire became the largest in the world, containing over 25% of the world's population.
Our Perspective: A strange quote coming from a leader known for his brutality, yet Genghis understood that conquering required a much different philosophy than leading. Even the strongest vision cannot survive the attrition which comes from constant infighting, unrest and discontent. Building a happy and unified internal culture must factor into your brand plans if you wish to have any chance at long-term domination.
Continue reading: Branding Definitions #37-40: The Comedians
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