Our eye’s lie. They only take in what’s on the surface.
Our limited experience with people, plays tricks with our emotions.
But the hairs turning up, on the back of our necks… like tails on a quarter… never fails.
I’m learning about a true lion coalition named, The Mapogos, who in recent history have EMERGED as legends. The last remaining one having being heard of, around the beginning of 2013. He had lived a more than average life; was between 14 – 16 years old… well over the average life span, of an average male lion.
The group consisted of 6 lions; 5 brothers; and 1 older loner, possibly a half-brother, who was able to join the original pride when they were all a bit younger.
He was allowed in, for some reason, but was treated like an outsider the few years before he and the brothers were old enough to challenge for dominance.
When the 6 were ready to make their challenge, unlike most other coalitions, that break up into 2’s and 3’s, these bad boys all stayed together, creating a rather rare 6 lion coalition.
Their original pride was called… The Sparta Pride.
And much like the Spartan Warriors of old, The Mapogos of Sabi Sand, lived by the law of “No retreat, No surrender,” and being the most powerful coalition of lions any researcher could remember, they added an addendum to Spartan Law… “No Retreat, No Surrender… and No Mercy.”
They were physically bigger starting out; and only got bigger and stronger as time went on, due to the abundance of large prey animals in their area; which they focused on, having devised hunting strategies that utilized their sheer size and power, to take down Buffalo, Giraffe, Hippo, and baby rhinos… on a regular basis.
Then they literally went on a tear!
Over time killing upwards of 100 other lions, as close as the researchers could tell, and not just rival males.
They cleared out any lion who stood in their way. Males, females, cubs… even cubs of their own coalition members at one point.
And who was in charge of all this carnage?
The loner, the outsider… the largest one of them all.
His name… Makulu. Which in Zulu means… “BIG” or “THE BIG ONE.”
Having joined the Sparta pride as a sub adult, and allowed to stay, by the then ruling males, he was older and bigger than the 5 brothers.
But even as adults, he was bigger than the rest. Older than the rest. And maybe, as far as the animal kingdom goes… a bit wiser than the rest.
The only lion he worried about… was one of his own, in his own coalition.
In my 32 years of being out in the work force, and having been an avid reader for all my life, I’m struck by this story, and it’s obvious, worldly picture of… leadership.
For instance, if you, me, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson walk into a bar… who do you think the bartender would assume who is in charge?
“How can you tell?”
Just look at him.
Our eyes lie; our limited experience with people is, well, limited… but the hairs on the back of our neck never fail to get our attention.
Reading self-improvement books; management books; leadership books; and success books by self proclaimed CEO’s, Business Experts, and Positivity Gurus has led me to believe that a… healthy; growth oriented; and yes, positive team coalition atmosphere, is somewhat of a Pegasus.
A mythical, beautiful, soaring… idea.
And instead of a bigger than average physical frame; lacking a large dark and flowing mane; leaders in the work place rely on their “title” to do their roaring for them.
I’m still kinda new at my new “day job” so, no ugly heads have reared themselves as of yet.
But since I was eighteen, every supervisor I’ve had, at some point has felt the need to “put me in my place,” using their title and perceived authority to “roar” as best they could… all because they couldn’t say… “I can’t answer your question, because I don’t know. So please, stop asking me that.”
I’m always fine with an answer.
When I had an opportunity to be a manager I made a rookie mistake, with a rookie worker, a young man who felt it was more important to play online games than to do his job… and so after giving him enough rope to do with as he pleased… the meeting had to be called.
The lack of any attempt to take responsibility for his use of time; or to engage in the responsibilities of his job, was too much for me.
And I roared.
As soon as I did I knew I had lost my cool.
But it had no affect. He just didn’t care. Didn’t care about his job. Didn’t care how the other men, “the lions of his work coalition” were viewing him. Didn’t care I just yelled at him. He didn’t correct me, didn’t say, “Don’t talk to me like that!”
After that I tried to implement those ideas found in all of those books I had read.
The rest of the “lions” in that work coalition were older, well seasoned “lions.” I thought it would be easier to garner team work; positivity; and growth… if I relaxed and let them be the experienced lions that they were.
The thing I learned was this… the teams I had been on since I was eighteen, all complained about managers micro-managing. But when given some freedom to “be your own lion,” they shrunk back… as if facing Makulu themselves, all alone.
I believe I learned… even though they didn’t like being micro managed… they needed to be micro managed.
They never really learned how to manage themselves.
One definition of freedom is… being absolutely responsible for yourself… AND how you interact within your personal; work; and social coalitions.
The hairs on the back of your neck rising up tell you about…
- “Real” danger… like the kind you find in a dark alley, at night, in a strange city; or when finding yourself in the ring with “The Rock;” or if finding yourself on the trip of a lifetime to the African Plains, and having a real lion like Makulu, charge your open aired Land-Rover, while you fumble with your phone.
- Those hairs, in my experience, also tell you.. when you are in the presence of an immature leader who uses fear; intimidation; withholding of all the information you need to do your job, and on and on. Why do we work for guys like that?
I’m coming to learn that leadership happens within yourself.
If you are comfortable leading yourself… then… when you are “a part” of a team, you are comfortable with whatever type of “leadership structure” is in place.
Generally, we are not the “visual” leader, generally we are the “informal” leaders within our coalition. That’s where the teamwork is supposed to come in.
I’ve learned also that… work teams; WWE Champions; and rare, 6 lion, coalition reigns… all come to an end.
Who leads then?
Who leads you?
When is the last time you truly lead yourself, and had a positive outcome?
In the case of Makulu, the biggest, oldest, wisest?… he also lasted the longest, out living the five brothers, and in the end he was a leader of “one,” himself. His legend has been cemented, because even though odds are he was destroyed by other, younger lions, there is no evidence of that… instead last being seen dragging a Cape Buffalo kill.
Sheer size of an individual is a rather poor piece of information for us to base a persons character off of.
The Bible mentions that.
Today’s personal interactions, are literally spaced… fewer, and farther between. (Thanks COVID)
But the hairs on the back of our neck are hard wired in, like a car antenna, taking in weather alert signals… but you are driving the car… you need to lead you… you make your choices… you are responsible for the twists and turns that you take…
And when you put it in the ditch, be ready to get out and start pushing… because all good leaders do.