From the book “One Hundred Years of Solitude”
One night, Army General Aureliano asked Colonel Gerineldo Marquez:
“Tell me something, old friend: why are you fighting?”
“What other reason could there be, old friend?” Colonel Gerineldo Marquez answered. “For the great Liberal Party.”
“You’re lucky you know,” he answered. “As far as I’m concerned, I’ve only just realized that I am fighting out of pride.”
How many times has it happened with you that you took up a project or a challenge because you believed in a cause but ended up just fighting for your pride?
Be it a college election where you start out with a dream to improve faculty-student relations but you end up fighting with the focus that you don’t want to be a loser.
Or you may start a venture now because you believe that your idea can impact the world in a positive way but you end up dragging it along because you don’t want to accept defeat.
Or you may take up an assignment in your company because it will make your product better. But as you struggle with the inertia of other teams, you take it onto your pride to see the assignment through.
Examples are plenty, the net result is one. You start something because you believe in the cause and you just end up fighting out of your pride.
Why? Because as a leader, you struggle with several opposing forces. As an agent of change, you’ll face resistance, offense, and insult. People will come and praise you which will bloat your ego. People will also come and offend you which will hurt your ego. At times, you’ll try to move things and they’ll move, bloating your ego. And at other times, you’ll try to move things and they’ll _not_move, leaving you frustrated.
When things oscillate between appeasing your ego to hurting your ego, you develop a sense of higher self-esteem as well as a strong urge to protect it at all costs. Well, there you go. You started with the goal of making the world a better place and ended up with a self-centered life.
But fighting for your pride will not take you far. People will not support you. People don’t support leaders. People support a cause, a belief, a dream.
People didn’t support Mahatama Gandhi, they supported movement for independence; they supported method of non-violence. Imagine Gandhi fasting for several days not because he believed atrocities on the poor must be stopped; but because he was up against the district magistrate and wanted to teach him a lesson. Would he have got the support from people the way he did? No. People wouldn’t have even noticed him. Or would’ve laughed at him.
What made the difference for Gandhi? The fact that he was just fighting for the cause and not for his pride.
So, as a leader, stay focused on the cause. If you stop believing in it, just quit and walk away. There is no point in fighting for the pride. You’ll fail anyways…