It happens from time to time that my inner cynic works its way out and is usually capped with a phrase I like to use in moments like these, “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit.”
Despite being positive and embracing enlightened discussion, there are occasions where no matter what you do, no matter how well-intentioned you are, you can be overwhelmed by the short-sighted. Call it a failure to appreciate the venom behind those served by the status quo, give the numbers of idiots a certain amount of wiggle-room, and you can be sure that they will find a way to hurt you. People who sincerely want the situation to remain the same and will do anything to keep it that way, will use character assassination, marginalization, threats, and on occasion, harm, to keep real leaders from instituting change.
According to Chongyam Trungpa Rimpoche, “Rishi is a Sanskrit word which refers to the person who constantly leads a straightforward life. The Tibetan word for “rishi” is trangsong, which means “direct” and “upright.” So this term refers to someone who leads a direct and upright life by not introducing new complications into their life situation.” When a leader who exhibits these traits comes into our lives, we need to embrace them. However, more often than not, our leaders have flaws, just as we do. Unfortunately, these flaws are often used by the contrarians to gain a foothold and steer those on the borders to their own side. If the weak-minded are unwilling to look at what is best for the mission and unable to side with those on the side of right, there isn’t likely any saving them anyway.
There are situations where the individuals involved simply deserve themselves and until a leader can rise to the position and have the necessary backing, there will be no improvement in the condition. It is at these times when things will continue to be so bad that it will require things to get even worse before someone is given the power to make things right. In those cases, a total recalculation of culture is required, which won’t happen without a major offensive with enough firepower to establish an indisputable beachhead. At this level of failure, however, it often requires people to die first.
There are situations in life where the smart thing to save your self, your sanity, or everything you worked for, is to walk away. There are situations where trying to save a completely dysfunctional organization is like trying to use a hand-pump to stop the Titanic from going under. If you find yourself in a situation like this, it requires a serious gut check, and a realization that you can’t fix the unfixable.
There are a few things that you should raise the stakes for, like your faith, your family, and your country. But when faced with an unwinnable scenario and a lack of resources to fix the problem, sometimes it is best to save what you can save and live to fight on another day. As a leader, strive to become rishi and when you are met with your failings, try to resolve them through truth and acceptance. In this you will make yourself less assailable. But ultimately, even the rockiest and most imposing shore can be destroyed through the constant battering of the waves. Be resolute, but not to the point of total loss.