I’m not a big Kenny Rogers fan but his megahit single The Gambler from 1978 was an instant classic – fun lyrics and a catchy tune. It tells a story about the options you have with the cards you are dealt – when you need to keep playing or when you need to fold ’em and try again.
Here are a few of the lines:
Every gambler knows, that the secret to survivin’,
Is knowin’ what to throw away, and knowin’ what to keep.
‘Cause every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser.
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em; know when to fold ’em.
Kenny Rogers The Gambler, 1978
You were singing the lyrics, weren’t you? Yes, you were. If you know the song you were singing it. It’s a catchy tune!
Lots of professional courses, programs and degrees about it — and, there is always someone willing to engage in a conversation — especially in fields like bio-ethics or medical-ethics. One might think it shouldn’t be too difficult to describe an ethical leader:
Transparent … are three traits that come to mind
I think most of us actually aspire to these attributes for ourselves. And, when we are discussing leadership around us, we expect our leaders to have these same traits. But, is there something else — something more? When I see a truly great leader there is ‘something‘ that makes them stand out from the rest — that makes them special.
We all categorize things — it’s how we sort our world and make sense of it. Good things over here — bad things over there. Similar things in this box — other things in another box. Even Sesame Street encourages us to sort our world.
We also categorize people. Yes, we do. All of us. Sometimes we assign them a description without knowing enough. And, if you think you don’t do that — you’re wrong.
We read a news article about a person and consciously assign intent or bias
We see someone speeding down the road and label them as dangerous and thoughtless
We dislike someone’s decision so, therefore, that person ‘just doesn’t get it’
We all do it. But, why?
It’s easier to assign intent to others which then justifies our own bias — the other person is either in-line with our own thinking and an ally, or their intent is misguided and they are an adversary.
By assigning intent without inquiring about it, we limit the amount of time we need to put into understanding someone.
Pick a topic, especially one that has a pretty clear line of delineation — global warming, poverty, systemic racism are three that come to mind. All three have some pretty polarizing viewpoints. It’s easier to align oneself with those who are similar to yourself and also assign blame or ignorance to those who are not.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s take a look at social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I wrote a Nov 2020 blog post about how social media platforms have algorithms that use Artificial Intelligence to find persons who are aligned with your way of thinking. Your clicks, swipes and pauses all help shape the opinions you see on these platforms. Social media builds your belief that many others think just like you — it’s a main reason why the platforms are so popular.