Leadership: Philosophies and Theories

Brian Siegel

Smoke, Bubbles, and Smiles

I thought of being creative and writing one sentence or a quote on a napkin on leadership, a letter to myself from the future talking to the me of the past, or a cynical sentence summarizing a synopsis of leadership. Comparing it to living the Christian life, being selfless, communicating (the ever so under valued virtue), listening to your conscience and spirit. Writing or talking about leadership simply can’t be summarized by one sentence, quote, thought, or one perception. It’s a multifaceted, angled, and perceptive spirit that can’t have a works sited page titles “Life, your name”. It’s an involved, self-motivating, realization, spiritual, and challenging area. It’s more than a dualism or pluralism, or simply one’s name. It’s being more than your name, and exceeding others expectations, your own expectations, and being more than the product of your environment. It’s serving you by serving others. That’s the service, service to others = service to yourself. You’re as good as you help others become.

From birth we’re given a name, social security number, or some other form of label. We’re then categorized by last names in homerooms, or stereotyped by height and weight. Is this why I get along better with Leos, people with the last names that start with “S”, and who are taller? I don’t think size or height measures ones heart. Did I just write that?! That sounds cuter than a baby with a teddy bear and a puppy next to it. Simple, but true. Once we learn to surpass and transcend our bodies that are merely vehicles of transportation for this world, we can tap into our spirit. Our true being! If we’re not even knocking or tapping, we drift aimlessly, and will resort back to being the dust and air we came from. Search and listen to what your spirit is saying and searching for. Align that with your vehicle, and materialize it with your voice, and relay your beauty to the world. If we all did this, our unique and diverse dreams would be released to our universe. How does one do that? When climbing that wall, and the point at which the people below you stop pushing, the people at the top stop pulling, and the spotters stop spotting, what happens? There is an empty space of silence and energy waiting to be captured. Do you harness it, or do you deny it? What if there were no spotters, no one on top, bottom, or the sides? Just you, a wall, and your spirit? Trust, of others and yourself. Knowing when to let go and when to get support. Right time, right place, right words, right thoughts, right listening, right speaking, right this, and right that. Seems like a lot of rights for a left-hander! What do I do?! Ha!

Merging your spirit to this world, while exhibiting truth and respect, sound so easy. Why isn’t it? Distractions, obstacles, and temptation seem to find the holes in our hearts, and turn our heads without effort. Maybe instead of chasing money, we should have money chase us? Maybe this type of outlook seems like using the Jedi mind trick, using mind over matter, but isn’t that better than matter over mind?

Smoke and Bubble Theory

If I were to categorize people and put them in a couple bubbles, I could sort them out in a couple of different ways. One would be to make two sides, and one would have people on one side that challenges, and the other that supports. Another would be ones that shift blame, and the other side that makes change. My final population separation would consist of one side that had the “litter bugs”, and the other the “clean up crew”. Seems tyrannical, but I am merely proposing a view, not a truth or plan of action. Perception is as diverse as people in a room. How people move, hold their glass, body language, and carry themselves can say a lot. Some go to the room, others bring the room to them. Some are just present, others are a present. Some voice opinions, others stand in silent chaos. Put people in a bubble, put them in room, categorize, stereotype, and you’ll be safe in your own world. Release your spirit, challenge and support others spirit, and put a door in that room, a skylight, and pop that bubble, and you can go down a glorious path helping yourself and others realize yours and others spirit. Leadership.

So, is leadership opening a door, and bringing a pin to pop bubbles of perceptions? I don’t thing there are enough pins to pop all the bubbles in this world, let alone people who want to take the initiative to do that or even reach all the bubbles. Some bubbles may be floating so high and reinforced by steel. How could one reach that? Smoke, smoke is the answer! Every object has small holes or ways to reach through. You just have to find it! String theory, small molecules, if you go small enough, everything is free floating strings, some closer than others. I view our spirit being like smoke. It’s not an appendage like an arm or leg, so where is it? It’s immeasurable, and uncontainable. The closest thing I could think of it being to is smoke, that doesn’t go, but moves, dances, and transforms. Smoke can be seen, and sometimes not seen. Sometimes measured, sometimes missed. Yet, it’s there. It transforms, changes, adjusts, gets diverted, sits still with entropy, or moves. If it is near an object, what does it do? It moves around it, engulfs it, becomes part of it, rises, and if there is a “hole in a bubble”, it rises/floats inside and around it. It cannot be contained. It finds a way. Within that reinforced steel bubble, there are little atoms/strings, with a space somewhere, and that smoke, rises and finds a way to make it through.

The space between, and the silence between notes are like the jump from the ground to over the wall. That brief moment, of heroics or despair, a flash or blink of an eye, so fast, but more meaningful that the walk or jump. Harness and capture your space and silence between the notes, and you can control your destiny and dreams. You’re better than the bottom; you’re better than the top. Where do you fit then? Finding your place, your place finding you, and you being open to it. Being more than your name on a homeroom roster or your tax returns. Better than being alphabetized, a bonus, stereotyped, ignored, or forgotten. You’re only forgotten when you forget yourself. Better than the institution that attempts to institutionalize you, and telling you that you’re as free as we let you be. Change your name, it doesn’t matter! Move your bubble, pop your bubble, move your smoke, just move! We’re all part of something bigger than ourselves, and it’s called the universe (and God). Move your feet, follow your feet, lead your feet, and listen to your feet.

The Maybe (and “It Depends”) Hypothesis

Does the smoke learn on the rise and approach, the evaporation, transition, movement, or shift? The answer is a resounding, “Yes”. Does the bubble stay solid and in tact forever, or does the stress, pressure, and interior components cause it to inevitably burst? Another resounding, “Yes”. The smoke is in all different sized, shapes, colors, weights, and heights. The bubbles made of many substances are different shapes, material, size, consistency, and burst at different levels, power, and impact. Like a stew or recipe, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as is the taste. We’re not really smoke, we’re not bubbles, but these things are an anecdote of cynicism for a skeptical world. There are those that believe they can change it, and those that don’t. Those that believe they’re here to change it, and others that believe they’re not. Some change it and don’t try; others try, and never succeed. Why? Nature, destiny, goals, vision, support, no support, path, journey, luck, charisma, motivation, communication, or any other power word to sum up human virtues? A resounding maybe, but those are all missing one ingredient that all stew or recipe should have. That component, mentioned right in their very foot movement, reasons, intentions, smoke, and bubbles. That part can’t be picked up at your local grocery store. You can ask the stock person, cashier, manager, or bagger where it is, but you’ll get a baffled look or response. Is it next to the fruits, the beer and wine, dairy, or the meat? You can look and look, but when you stop looking, and start listening, taking action, and tapping into your spirit, you’ll find it. It’s like most things you need, want, desire, and didn’t pray for, but God gives you. Best of all, it’s FREE! What is it, the secret, and the key? It’s buried right (and left, top, down, and on the sides) in the very sentences, thoughts, words, and previous idea mentioned. It’s belief. To BELIEVE! With ethics, morals, respect, and the supporting virtues/power words. “So a man thinketh, so is he” ~ Jesus. Simple, yet significant. Is there a class on belief? A class on soul? How to be successful and glorious?

Who’s to define glory and success? Institutions, companies, money, TV? No, you do. That’s why you see CEO’s years later speaking more of their regrets and things they wish they’d known, rather than how happy they are because they lived each moment with belief, soul, and love. “Oh what a tangled web we weave”. How true. We can be our spirit, and allow our soul to meet our personality, or we can live with the attachments of the lingering silk from the spider webs we attempted to crash through set up by society, and other obstacles of temptation. Believe, walk your walk, talk your talk, walk your talk, talk your walk.

How do we lead a path of positive and spiritual growth? Not using excuses of where you’re from, or what tools you don’t have. Not having skewed perceptions or your perceptions skewed. Being selfless, rather than selfish. Realizing that not all sources of problems and diseases are the route to solve problems, and creativity may be needed. Being there, just be there. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Like smoke, it’s many forms, many movements, and sometimes not any movement. Like some bubbles, they’re large and steel reinforced, and others are busted by wind. Curiosity and initiative only killed that cat that didn’t pursue with relentless fervor combined with spirit, soul, ethics, morals, and belief! “Loose ships, sink ships” because of the language, wording, or how it’s being challenged, not “what’s” being challenged. I say, “pop” the balloons, sink the ships, shake hands, stir the pot, send smoke, bust bubbles, and do it with loud, silent, or any means necessary grace. I challenge you, to challenge. With strength, silently forcing yours and others spirits to be challenged to make choice and decide, all with grace.

The Garden, dig, plant, water, and honest hypothesis

Happiness. Who’s to say who’s happy, besides you, unless you’re lying to yourself? Boils back to leadership. Being honest with not only other, but also yourself. Not limiting yourself to being happy because your boss let you take a half day and didn’t charge you for it, because your benefits out weigh your compensation, because the institution you’re a part of is more flexible than the one next door. Happy because your company appears on the list of fortune 500 companies, and your making a little more than “just getting by”. For some, that’s happiness, and you can’t judge that bubble, but can put your smoke on it, or around it. Does that make you happy? Or do you want to make change, leave a legend, change the drumbeat, and move the marcher. Engage, serve, be, let be, become, clarify, notice, listen, and ask what you’re thinking, exploit yours and others gifts, energize, and break the viscous cycle of human nature. Break the hard clay and soil, plant the seed, allow the sun to shine it’s light in, and the water to feed/absorb. Let your light shine! Grow! “Not everything that can be counted counts, or that counts can be counted” ~Einstein. Get in your “garden”, break up the old ground, clay and soil, take care of your legitimate need of thirst for water, let the sun shine on you to grow, and then let your light shine!

Make “smoke and bubbles” your plan of actions, turn them into action. You don’t have to make them action plans, agendas, a line item on the balance sheet, or power point slides. “Failing to prepare, is preparation for failure” ~Lincoln. Lincoln didn’t mean that preparation totally consisted of meetings, emails, text messages, black berries, or conference calls. He meant living with spirit, belief, and utilizing “smoke and bubbles” examples and leadership. How can you prepare for everything? You can blanket life from business, self, to family by tapping into your soul, and letting yours and others “light shine”. I think that’s what Lincoln meant. Not sitting around in a boardroom preparing, but like most things, it’s the wording. Preparation sounds like work, maybe he could’ve said, “failing to lead, is leading to failure”?! (Note all these Brian Siegel quotes now, I want copyright!). Connecting is serving. Serving is connecting. A beautiful matrix, isn’t it?! It’s about transcending the institutions and rules set up for comfort and safety to exceed expectation and create hope. But the few bad apples spoil the patch, and we may need the organization and rules to live in synch with peoples whose bubbles are of dark tint and rusty steel.

The thirst (buckets, legitimate needs, security, and status) theory

We all have needs that are necessary, and legitimate to daily living. Security, water, food, air, sleep, and love. If we’re in an environment where these basic necessities aren’t being met, then emerging as a leader or obtaining dreams become a bit more difficult. If we are safe, we have the ability to focus our time more on things other than providing the basic necessities. This time opens up our thirst beyond necessity. We can discover more about ourselves, focus more on hobbies and freethinking, and invest in things other than our legitimate needs that allow us to exist. We have so much time and space to fill our lives. We have our friends, family, hobbies, work, self, and many other areas or “buckets” of life that we try to fill. Attempting to top off all of these buckets can lead to exhaustion and stress. Prioritizing and focusing on your vision and goals can allow for your bucket and time to be maximized efficiently. If we take care of ourselves, and provide an atmosphere where we are safe and our legitimate needs are met, we can then fill other buckets. To expand and exploit all our resources and energy, we must have the basic needs met, then cross the lines and barriers to other areas of life to achieve our dreams (if you do dream to create change and become involved in things other than the basics)! We exist in our skin/vehicles with these souls/spirit, building up our “bubbles”, learning how to exploit, utilize, and maximize our “smoke” / soul to fulfill our dreams and desires.
We have our basic thirst for basic needs, but most desire to fill other buckets and thirst for more. Achieving mediocre thirst just isn’t enough, and the basic needs are taken care of, then leadership takes over to achieve the ‘thirst for more’. Leadership is the dedication to taking care of yours, close ones around you, and people who have difficulty providing basic needs, striving / thirsting for more, then taking the courage to achieve those dreams. Some are alright with achieving basic needs, and benchmark leadership to status. You can see this in every culture and groups in different cultures. If you’re in school it may be who has the coolest designer shoes, if you’re in an urban area it may be who has the coolest rims on their car, if you’re in a rural area it may be who has the nicest homemade jewelry or hut, if you’re in business it may be who has the nicest title, suit, car, house, or golf clubs. People define leadership and success by how much one accumulates or has in material goods. This is a misnomer. Leadership is the path you took to fill your buckets, and provided legitimate needs to achieve your thirst for spinning rims, shark tooth necklaces, or designer shoes/suits. If your dream is to have high-end goods, or if it’s to be a minimalist, your success depends on if you achieve your dreams. If you achieve the status you aim for in an ethical and positive manner, then you have achieved successful leadership. No matter your dream or goal, how small or large, they are timeless and ageless, as well as important all the same. Define your thirst, and take initiative. We try to define this through literature, poems, songs, speeches, and books. An example comes to mind with “Who Moved My Cheese” . You have sniff, snuff, scat, and scurry. Metaphors are made through their names. You can sit and wait, or take action. But, they all had their dreams, goals, vision, choice, and action. They somewhat worked together, but that’s a part of the lessons we learn. Teamwork, and how crucial it is in our world to fill our buckets. Not letting fear take over and steer. Working together, believing, making intelligent choices, and going after dreams. Sometimes it can be about knowledge and perception, and we need to step aside to see the bigger picture. George Gordon, professor of HR at XU said in class one day, “There were two brick layers, and one was asked what he was doing and replied; laying bricks. The other was asked and replied; building a cathedral”! Leadership can be stepping aside, and seeing the bigger picture, and being part of something bigger than your own self, desires, or “bubbles”.

Beats and rhythms: Ants marching with individual Utopias

I asked Peter Block if his theory came true, and his methods of breaking institutions molds became the Utopia, what would the next step be? He said, “Are you a religious man”?, and I responded with a yes, and then he said, “We’d go back to our spirit”. I took that as us transcending our physical being and material desires and temptations, going back to a pure happiness in a garden of juicy apples and seedless watermelons. A place where smog would be unknown, water wasn’t contaminated and we didn’t need purification devices, diseases were prevalent and not everyone needed Prozac or Ritalin to make it through 24 hrs. A place where your kids could ride bikes and laugh instead of sitting in front of a TV learning about life on a joy stick with a parent who takes every opportunity to stay later at work to avoid confronting their spirit and “bubble”. A place where there were no bosses that played “I got ya” games, heck, and a place with no bosses. It could happen if as the Beatles said, we “Let it be”. Maybe even U2, when they sang triumphantly, “One love, one life”. We can hear it in a Jazz number, where there is no structure at some parts, yet organized, just the flowing of heart from fingers to strings. Maybe you can hear it when a blues guitarist or singer takes that space between being lifted and pulled up, capturing their raw, true, honest energy, and taking the risk to bellow out through voice or strings, their heart, spirit, and emotions. When the spirit is materialized and meets personality. The timing, rhythm, sound, strength, or silence. One could even take the guitar and smash it, take the microphone and toss it into the stands, turn their back to the audience, whatever their or your spirit felt. To live in that moment, and domino to the next. Smoke covering and bursting bubbles. Whatever limits you release from you. What notes and how you play them, making you a “want to be” or being. Perfecting your own beat. Being your beat. Everyone has a beat, everyone expresses it differently. It’s like we’re all ants, marching along, with our own individual views of what Utopia, perfection, and happiness consists of.

The Smile theory

I heard that “the best way to improve your looks, is to smile”. Facing yourself, difficult situations, people, yourself, or anything, just smile. Businesses say, “While you’re on the phone, smile, the listener can hear it”. Do you believe? Does the world need a big smile? Not a yellow smile like Wal Marts logo, smiling as pricing goes down, profit goes up, and so does the stock price. I mean a real smile, a smile of belief. When your boss criticizes your actions, smile. When you’re playing basketball and someone fouls you a little harder than they should, burst their bubble, tell them, “Thank you”, with a smile. Sometimes it’s hard to smile. You lose a loved one, or that special someone dumps you without hesitation. Can you smile then? Certainly not! But, you do limit your smile, and when you lose it, it’s your job to crusade out, get a search and rescue team, and get out of the bunker and FIND IT! Seek, search, tap into, dig, and you and your smile will meet once again. You can make yourself more well-rounded, well, ½ rounded, by a smile! Let your light shine; just make sure you brushed your teeth! Smile. Watch as people look at you with an odd sense of unknowing, yet gain a comfort from your smile.

Leadership is chameleon like, meaning it changes from situation to situation, but has similar root and fundamental qualities. Respect, communication, virtue, ethics, strength, and meaning. It can be in the matrix, but also cross the lines in the matrix. “Break the rules, not the law”. One can emerge as a leader from a prison cell, to an organization. They follow the laws, but break the rules. Their leadership and influence surpasses the walls that contain them. They creatively burst bubbles from within the prison walls that the universe attempts to put them in, physically or mentally. For example, how could Nelson Mandela have more power in prison than someone who’s roaming free about the world? Seems almost insane? He transcended normal human nature and cycle, walked the talk, talked the walk, and utilized his soul, captured his spirit, and merged with the essence of energy that it took to shift change in a world that reacts to change like the same sides of a magnet. When there’s a north or south, maybe go to the east or west. Whatever it takes, however it takes. The same went for Martin Luther King. He didn’t abandon his ideals when cages were put around him. He embraced it, with a smile. He knew when to speak, when to listen, and served his cause by serving the people. Being “more” for the “less”. A voice for the voice” less”, and a father to the father” less”. All the heroes, champions, and legends exemplify this. Francis of Assisi, breaking away from what was comfortable, making himself uncomfortable, and transcending normal understanding, for the better. Mother Theresa, using her actions as a representation, “following the advice she gave to others” ~ Proverb. Dreams and spirit are as ageless and timeless as you make them.

Strings, hot air, and baskets hypothesis

We can move through the holes and spaces between, and the obstacles in front, on the side, or behind them, and escape the tiniest strings, and the biggest bubbles. Strings can be in other forms, even in ones that people or institutions attempt to put on our major joints to move us, and make us dance for them. It’s not a big secret how to be a leader, just a tough road to break through and walk on. Once you’re on that road, it’s easy street. You’re at one with yourself and the universe. Maybe if you took all the articles, papers, books, and philosophies on how to be a great leader, turn it into a gumball, chewed on it, maybe that would work? Trouble is, it’s hard to swallow, and most people don’t swallow gumballs. They use it when it’s convenient, or for the taste. You have to chew it, eat it, swallow it, breathe it, and be it. Not the gum, but leadership! Ha! It may depend on what your intentions are. If they’re selfless, or selfish. If you’re selfish, the glory and money will follow. Lead the money, and it will follow. Follow the money, and it will lead you. We don’t need reasons to lead; we shouldn’t, merely for the peace and spirit it develops. Human nature dictates we need a reason for everything. Once you learn that you don’t, not having a reason, is the reason. A simple concept like forgiveness versus understanding. People need to have a reason or back up on understanding their rival, but forgiveness can exist without a reason, other than forgiveness itself. Leadership is having the strength to forgive, and having the courage to face difficult situations. Leadership is more than buzz words (Innovate, Create, Adapt, Change, Develop, Change, …). You have to cross manage and lead your time, ideas, heart, and capture the essence of your spirit by allowing yourself to be open to letting these entities merge. More than words, more towards living!

Maybe this is all just a bunch of hot air, enough to fill a hot air balloon, you may be half right. The other half is this, when all that air fills up your balloon, it’ll keep going, and the smoke will clear, and the balloon will burst. If you don’t see and believe after that, maybe you will on the way down to the ground in the basket. Maybe I’ll be next to you falling, maybe we’ll float in the air, maybe we’ll end up 6 ft under, and we’ll be pushing daisies, breaking hard clay, maybe the smoke will clear and we’ll have parachutes, or maybe you’ll be looking at me, oddly, while I stand there, smiling.

To be continuous… I think I’ll go to the store and buy a thing of bubbles, and as they float away and burst, and simply smile.

If you are a naysayer, all I have to say is, as the wise “Larry, curly, and Moe (don't forget Shemp)” said, “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk, with laughter, and a smile.

…To be continued (and continuous)…

Smoke and Bubble Theory
Maybe and it Depends Hypothesis
The Garden, dig, plant, water, and honest hypothesis
The thirst, buckets, legitimate needs, security, and status theory
Beats and rhythms: Ants marching with individual Utopias
The Smile Theory
Smoke, strings, bubbles and basket hypothesis

Brian Siegel

~Dedicated to those who have the courage to challenge themselves and our world respectfully, and be an instrument of peace and God.


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