Perversity, Cooking, and Leadership – Let’s Just Order In

I love perversity. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be in touch with reality very often. The rationality that we try to impose on the world doesn’t often work. The assumptions through which we observe the world more often then not, “spin” what we see out of shape.

For example, people have lost interest in food preparation at home. Or maybe they are just increasingly incompetent to do so. Or maybe (if yo’ve got the wherewithal) it’s just easier to go out or order in. All we can know for sure is that there has been a steep decline in home cooking. At the same time, there has been an increasing number of cookbooks published, and the number of cooking shows on television have increased significantly too. Seems a bit perverse, doesn’t it?

But where I want to go with these cultural perversities is this: As people have become less and less capable of leading themselves – for whatever reason – there has been a huge increase in the number of books published about leadership, as well as a surfeit of seminars on that subject. In other words, the spate of books about leadership might be interpreted as a loss of the capacity for providing it, coupled with an increase in simply reading about it (see the parallel with home cooking and cookbooks in the previous paragraph). People who have no intention of equipping themselves to prepare to be leaders are enchanted by the notion of reading about it. Most leadership books either offer pages and pages about the obvious, or emulate the writers of science-fiction (or of soap operas).

All this might suggest that what today’s so-called leaders do best is try to apply the latest ideas about leadership (there are none) without understanding how to create an idea or make any real contact with the reality in which they attempt to apply those fads. People who can’t think for themselves are fair game for the predators who want to peddle ready-made recipes. People who can’t cook buy cookbooks that promise to make it “easy” – that is, that require no thinking on their part. The popularity of the “Dummie” books” makes the point.

About all such matters, we live in a cookie-cutter world. More and more would-be leaders fake their way along –  not by being the cutter, but by being the cookie.