Leadership Lessons From The Great Books

The Tragedy of King Lear by William Shakespeare w/Libby Unger
  • Welcome & Introduction - 0:01:35
  • CEOs Building Stronger Companies with Common Touch Leadership
  • Lessons from Shakespeare's King Lear for Modern Leaders
  • Never Forget Your Roots: Lessons in Humility and Servant Leadership
  • Challenge Assumptions 
  • Cultivate Servant Leadership
  • Build What Good Looks Like
  • Leadership Lessons from the Great Books
  • The Importance of Truth Tellers
  • Lessons from the Decline of Empires
  • Morality and Leadership from King Lear
  • Taking Ruthless Inventory
  • Self-Awareness Can Transform Your Leadership
  • Rhetoric, Positions, and Principles 
  • Seek Truth, Act Locally
  • False Promises in Leadership Don't Deliver
  • The Power and Elite
  • Insights into an Insular Leadership Structure
  • Saying "No" 
  • Staying on the Path 

Creators & Guests

Jesan Sorrells
CEO of HSCT Publishing, home of Leadership ToolBox and LeadingKeys
Leadership Toolbox
The home of Leadership ToolBox, LeaderBuzz, and LeadingKeys. Leadership Lessons From The Great Books podcast link here: https://t.co/3VmtjgqTUz

What is Leadership Lessons From The Great Books?

Because understanding great literature is better than trying to read and understand (yet) another business book, Leadership Lessons From The Great Books leverages insights from the GREAT BOOKS of the Western canon to explain, dissect, and analyze leadership best practices for the post-modern leader.

Hello. My name is Jesan Sorrells and this

is the Leadership Lessons from the Great Books podcast,

episode number 56 with our

play today, the basis for multiple films

and plays and adaptations focused on leadership,

revenge, deception, cold-blooded murder.

Corruption and power, including my personal favorite

adaptation, the 1985 film Ran

by the late, great Akira Kurosawa.

William Shakespeare's The Tragedy

of King Lear. Now, today we're

going to be reading the Folger, Shakespeare Library edition,

which I would encourage you to go ahead and pick up. And we are going

to be joined today on the podcast by our returning

guest co-host from episode number 43, where we

broke down the reality of human leadership through the lens of

politics and economics by reading The Road to Serfdom

by F.A. Hayek. I would encourage you to go back and listen to that episode.

And I'd like to welcome back to the podcast today Libby Unger.

How are you doing? Libby I am doing terrific.

I'm really excited for King Lear.

Now, Shakespeare, we've been doing a month of Shakespeare.

We've covered Hamlet, we've covered Taming of the Shrew,

and now we're getting into King Lear. Othello is upcoming,

very excited to cover that one as well.

Shakespeare, of course. Shakespeare's plays,

of course, lay at the root of all human behavior and all human understanding

and have influenced the West, as I said on the episode where we

discussed Hamlet, have influenced

human nature, have influenced our western understanding,

of human nature and quite frankly, our Western understanding of everything that comes out

of human nature, including leadership for gosh

the last 400 years. And so

with that, I would like to open from

once again the Folger Library edition of King Lear.

We're going to start off with act One, scene One,

and we're going to begin with Lear's comments.

As Cornwall, Albany, Gonereil,

his daughter, Regan, his other daughter, Cordelia, his other daughter and

some attendants enter the throne room.

Lear attend the lords of France and Burgundy.

Gloucester. Gloucester I shall, my lord. He exits.

Lear meantime, we shall express our darker purpose.

Give me that map. Here he's handed a map. Know that

we have divided in our three kingdoms and TISS our fast intent to shake

all cares and business from our age conferring them on

younger strengths while we unburdened crawl toward death.

Our sons of Cornwall and you, our no less loving

son of Albany we have this hour a constant will to publish

our daughters several dowers that future strife may be prevented.

Now the two great princes, France and Burgundy,

great rivals in our youngest daughters love long in our court,

have made their amorous sorjorn. And here are

to be answered. Tell me, my daughters, since we will now divest

us both of rule, interest of territory, cares of state,

which of you, shall we say, doth love us most that we

our largest bounty may extend where nature doth with merit

challenge gonerill. Our eldest born speak first.

Gonearill. Sir, I love you more than word can wield

the matter dearer than eyesight, space, and liberty beyond

what can be valued, rich or rare no less than

life with grace, health, beauty, honor as much as a child error loved or father

found. A love that makes breath poor and speech unable.

Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

Cordelia aside. What shall? Cordelia speak?

Love and be silent.

Lear pointing at the map of all these bounds, even from this line to

this with shadowy forests and with champagnes

rich with plentous rivers and wide skirted needs we

make thee lady. To thine and Albany issue be this perpetual.

What says our second daughter, our dearest Reagan, wife of

Cornwall? Speak, Reagan.

I am made of that self metal as my

sister and prize me at her worth. In my true heart I

find she names my very deed of love. Only she comes too short that

I profess myself ran enemy to all other joys which

the most precious square of sense possesses and find I

am alone felicitate in your dear highness's

love. Cordelia aside, then.

Poor Cordelia. And yet not so since, I am sure my love's

more ponderous than my tongue. Lear to

thee and thine heredity ever remain this ample third of

our fair kingdom no less in space, validity, and pleasure than

that conferred on Gonorrhill. Now our joy, although our last

and least to whose young love the vines of France and milk

of Burgundy strive to be interest. What can you say to

draw a third more opulent than your sisters?

Speak. Cordelia nothing,

my lord. Lear nothing?

Cordelia nothing? Lear nothing will come of

nothing. Speak again.

Cordelia unhappy that I am, I cannot leave my heart into my

mouth. I love your majesty according to my bond, no more and

no less. Lear how, how.

Cordelia mend your speech a little, lest you may mar

your fortunes. Cordelia good my lord,

you have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return those duties back

as are right fit, obey you, love you, and most honor

you. Why, of my sister's husbands, if they say they love you all

happily, when I say I shall wed that lord whose hand must take my

plight shall carry half my love with him half my care and duty.

Sure I shall never marry, like my sisters, to love my father all.

Lear but goes thy heart with this?

Cordelia my good lord? Lear so young and

so untender? Cordelia so young, my lord,

and true. Lear let it be so.

Thy truth then be thy dower. For by the

sacred radiance of the sun, the mysteries of hechatate and

the night by all the operations of the orbs from whom we do exist

and cease to be here I disclaim all my paternal care

propicity and property of blood, and as a stranger

to my heart and me hold thee from this forever. The barbarous

scythian, or he that makes his generation messes to gorge

his appetite shall to my bosom be as well neighbored,

pitied and relieved as thou my sometime daughter.

Kent. Good my liege, lee your peace. Kent, come now

not between the dragon and his wrath. I love her most and thought

to set my rest on her king nursery to cordelia

hence and avoid my sight. So be my grave my

peace here as I give her father's heart from her.

Call France. Who stirs, call Burgundy. An attendant exits Cornwall in

Albany. When my two daughters dowers digest the third,

let pride, which she calls plainness, marry her. I do invest you jointly

with my power, preeminence and all the large effects. The troop with majesty,

our self, by monthly course, with reservations of 100 knights,

by you be sustained, shall our abode make with you by due turn only

we shall retain thy name and all the addition to a king, the sway,

revenue, execution of the rest beloved sons be yours,

which to confirm this coronet part

between you.

There's a lot there and I just sort of

ran through folks, we've been doing a month of Shakespeare.

This is how it goes. I put the Shakespeare voice on. You got to throw

it out there a little bit. You got to do the sort of Orson Wells,

English actor, Patrick Stewart comes to mind. You got to sort of do that kind

of thing. You got to give it a little flourish, because Shakespeare

cannot be read in merely a plain voice.

But after all of the flourishes, after all the exaggeration,

I know why teenagers struggle with

King Lear. There's a lot of complicated things

going on here and quite frankly, flattery, and this

is maybe the first thing that we get from King Lear.

Flattery will apparently get you everywhere in business, just as

it will in royalty.

Leaders to get what you want, engage in flattery, right?

Turns out the narcissism is not a modern psychological state. It's just

moved from being a private act tinned with shame,

tinned with tinned with shame, to being a shameless

public act, right? We're not shameless in our narcissism.

We put it out there. We want it to be publicly applauded.

Gonerill and Reagan at least had the good grace to

keep it private. The other thing that we get from

that big opening act where Lear is trying to divide

up his kingdom is this concept. And we toyed with it a

little bit in Hamlet, and we're going to toy with it a little bit more

in Othello. And of course, it pops up in Julius Caesar.

But Shakespeare was very much concerned, as should leaders,

about this idea of beguiling or deceiving

another person. Reagan and Gonerill

and their husbands in particular,

cornwall, he's going to prove to be a problem later on

they engage in acts of deception,

they engage in acts of beguiling. King Lear. Now, you could

say, of course, the King Lear deserved to be beguiled. He wasn't

going to listen to honest feedback from Cordelia when she said

she had nothing for him other than her mere honor

and her love and her truth to give him and

beguiling a person in power to attain the power that they have. Which is what

Gondrial and Reagan are involved in in this little clip here, right at

the beginning, the opening of King Lear. If you do

that, it's a robust short term tactic, but it's a poor

long term strategy. Unless, of course, your fundamental

philosophy is establishing a tyranny with you

the top of the hierarchy. And this

is where we open. This is where Shakespeare starts us off in

the journey in through five acts, as usual,

of King Lear, a man who is going to find out exactly

what it's like to fall off the top of a mountain.

And how many people do you meet going all the way

back down?

As I said before, we have Libby Younger here, and we were talking about

the road to Serfdom, as I mentioned previously, in episode number 43, and King

Lear ties weirdly into the road to

Serfdom. I think Hayek would appreciate us reading

this because it's not necessarily about the economics of power,

although that does sort of come into it, particularly in this first part

here with the division of property.

But there's also an element here of human nature which

Hayek touches on extensively in Serfdom, particularly in

his chapter about why the worst always get to the top.

And so let's start off with Libby here as

we open with King Lear. I guess my

first question is, Libby, why doesn't anyone read Shakespeare anymore?

I've been asking almost everybody that since

we started this little trot this month on the podcast

through the works of Shakespeare, and we'll revisit Shakespeare again. There's just

too much good stuff inside of all of his work to miss.

But why does anyone read Shakespeare anymore?

That is a very good question. I think

it simply comes down to the language is


It really is like a foreign language that you need

to be introduced to through guidance

and with teachers and education.

It's like French. I'm not going

to learn French on my I may, but it'd be a lot easier to

learn French with guidance and instruction.

The story and the lessons of King Lear have been

modernized, so we haven't necessarily lost the

lessons. You spoke of ran,

but I was thinking more even more recently of succession.

We brought up succession. Interestingly enough, we brought up succession in our

episode on Hamlet with Todd Libby.

I think Hamlet skews more towards

something like Sons of Anarchy. That's more like Hamlet but with a biker

gang, right? Which I also said on the podcast. But, yeah, you're right. King lear.

King Lear is interesting because it is succession.

And I don't think the father and I've never watched succession

on HBO. I've just seen clips and I've seen trailers floating around. I got

the general gist of kind of what the show is about, but it

is this idea of building an empire and then how

the hell do you divide it up? Because you're not

going to live forever, and at a certain point, you have

to give it away, like you have to divest yourself of your property.

And this is a real problem.

Yeah. Well, let's step back and more.

You've got the lessons of succession is teaching the

lessons of King Lear and the human nature.

The builder creates a huge fief dumb.

He wants it to continue and to thrive. And his successors

are well positioned to do that, although they didn't learn the

tricks of the trade and how to build,

and they're overconfident in their capabilities and competencies.

And what becomes of them? They let their greed

start to dictate their actions,

and ultimately they lie and cheat

in order to retain power or to hold on to the last

grasp of it. But you've got succession,

but you've got Dallas and you've got Dynasty.

Dallas in the 1980s. Right? Same thing. Same thing.

Yeah. But what's so beautiful about Shakespeare and the classics and

what you're trying to do through these podcasts is it

really demonstrates that human nature is a constant.

Right? So the same tendencies that

the powerful have had back in the 16 hundreds

are the same ones that we're having in the Tooth in 2020.

Why is it that Orwell and Anne Ran

could so accurately predict where we would

be landing as a society 80 to 100 years from

when they were living? Okay, then let me ask you this follow up question,

because this is the key crux question.

Yeah. Okay.

I am old enough and and you are old enough to

remember an analog time before all this digital nonsense,

right? We're both in that weird sort of middle ground generation,

right, analog than digital. And now we got to adapt, right?

And there's

a fundamental hubris that's built into digital, and we're seeing this right now

with large language models being called artificial intelligence.

And the fundamental hubris is a is a lack of being.

Not even a lack of being. It's the desire now

for every individual to never be forgotten. One of the things

that I tell folks is, and I do have this written into my

will, I want to be erased from the Internet when I'm gone.

I want to be eliminated. I don't want to show up in some deep fake

video 100 years from now.

And I think I may have said this on the podcast, but like selling Nestle,

because Nestle's pushed everything out to the edges and now they've

got to grab regular people and I'm in the background of a crowd somewhere.

Or because my voice is around everywhere. This is brought to you by

any of that right? Erase me, move me from the Internet. But the fundamental

hubris of our time is that technology has allowed us to believe

that we are King

Lear, right? That we're at the top of our own little pile,

and now we can sort of do these things. And it used to be

when we were more tragically focused

or maybe not tragically focused, we were more acknowledging of the tragic nature

of humanity, that we were like, no, there has to be boundaries

like that's for those people over there, and we still do have a lot of

that. But for us over here, there's something

different, and we can look at it. Right. Like, I think

of this is now the second

time these people have made it on the podcast, but okay, Harry and Megan,

the Markle twins over there, those two people.

And, yeah, if you all find me, you ran, come sue me.

It's fine, whatever. Good luck.

But the dynamic there of,

oh, well, that's those people over there doing that thing, but I'm living over

here doing this thing, has sort of become wrapped up with this narcissistic

hubris. That's why I opened up with narcissism, this narcissistic hubris, because of technology.

Like, if I can build my own reality on Facebook, then why

shouldn't I be King Lear? The digital age I've

shared this with a lot of folks over the years is

that it's distance perception from reality.

So we have the perception that we're more important

than we are, either good or bad.

There's this perception that we're

bigger and more powerful than we are. And Oprah

used to talk about this, which is whenever

you're trying to analyze someone's behavior, recognize that we

all just want to be seen. And the digital feat,

it used to be that we were seen in our local communities,

right? Yeah, exactly. At grade school, in the schoolyard,

or at church or in girl

scouts or cub Scouts. And we got rapid feedback,

but it was real and untinged. So it wasn't

this narcissistic like like, that was ephemeral.

You could feel it in your soul. You could feel it viscerally,

and you knew the person, so you actually would have to face them day

in and day out. On the digital world, the feedback we're getting is from anonymous

folks. And if you say something negative,

there's no consequences for your action, because you don't have to be with them

or be with them or interact with them

in a real human way anymore. But there's this perception that if I

say something true, it is.

And we're completely being divorced from reality as

it is in this digital world. The narcissism,

I think it is actually fueled economically as well.

Yeah. You and I both touch the VC

and tech space where all these folks are

being given free money. Free money. Free money. They can blow up

their companies, and they're given another job

doing the same thing six months from then.

They aren't actually having to deliver anything other than growth.

They're not thinking about sustainability and delivering a viable

business. It's just, look at me, look at me. I'm raising money.

I'm building something big. But they're not thinking about the bigger picture.

Who am I building it for? Right? It's more

about, look at me, I'm important. Like Forbes 30

under 30 throw up.

You know, squat in your twenty S.

I talked about this on on the Shorts episode that

came out this Tuesday, right ahead of the Shorts episode, number 75.

You go back and listen to this, but it is this idea, and it's

also wrapped up with what you're saying of and

I keep going back to this over and over again because I'm working on something

here, philosophically and rhetorically out loud with folks.

It's this idea of the adults in the room.

So I look at lists like 30 under 30,

40 under 40, for God's sakes. I just got an email the

other day, could we interview you about being 50 under 50?

And I went and I immediately

deleted it. What are we doing? Right? So there was

a dynamic in our culture, and I said this on our Shorts episode. I think

it's lear repeating. There was a dynamic where

you would never trust anyone no, not never trust you would

never give power to any right. You never trust anyone over 30. But that

was also intention against the dynamic in

the post World War II era of don't you dare give anybody any

power who's under 40 because they can't handle it.

Because there was something going to get tragic right about that. And we

see this in Reagan and gonerill in King Lear.

Right. Yes. All the Shakespeare parts are played by young men.

Young boys, usually 16 to 19. Yes, okay, got it.

And yes, they would have been a 16 year old boy playing Reagan and a

six Lear old boy playing Gonorrhill. Okay, got it. Yeah, I'm aware of all

that in the Globe Theater and in the Elizabethan

Theater age. Right. I'm aware of all this. My point is the

people as characters are

young and arrogant. They're under 40. They're not

behaving with wisdom. Right? That's the whole setup for Lear.

It's the whole set up for succession. It's the

whole set up for another show that's very popular, which is

shocking to me. My wife and I watched, I think, the first two

episodes of the first season, and then my wife is like, these are bad people.

I don't need to have these people in my house. So we never went back

to it again. But Yellowstone a show that has just blown

up, but it's basically King Lear with

Costner at the top of the hierarchy. Right?

There's a couple of threads in here that I think are important, and I think

there is always a really good tension between the young and

the young and the old. And I think it's

an important tension. But this is why it's

so important to understand history, to understand your

own behaviors and your own tendencies, so that you

are able to put a check on yourself.

One is this concept around humility 99

billion people have walked the planet. Why do you think your name is going

to stand out in history? Right?

But when you're always moving, when you're not reflecting,

when you're not stepping back to assess the environment and

to assess what's happening in context of a greater history,

you will have the inclination to let your ego self lead.

And your ego self is about me, me, status,

status, status. And there are some benefits from

a heavy ego, from a survival perspective.

But in the world that we live in now, it can be very self destructive

and destructive to others. And in this digital world

where we all get these rapid feedbacks, positive or negative,

in the digital world, we do feel a lot more important than we

actually are. And I had this

there's two things that are stand out thoughts

that have occurred to me and been important through my evolution

as a human. And the first is remembering a statement that

my stepmother said to me young when I was

young. She said, in my twenty s I thought I knew it all. In my

thirty s I realized I didn't, but I thought I could. And in my forty

s and thereafter I realized that I would never know at all.

So it's so freeing to recognize how little you

actually know and how much you have to discover about

life. Now, that can be scary if you live in a fear based,

control need environment, or it can be extremely fringe if

you recognize that there's only room to grow.

The second was after my own CEO stint

and I got caught up in even

though I had always viewed myself as a servant lear I

had started to move into this more narcissistic world,

which is easy when you live in the Bay Area and everyone around you is,

what are you doing? You're getting funding, you're working for VC. I'm building

the next big company. And it can be

overly consuming where you define yourself by

your title and your role and not who you are.

And when I moved

on from that, I started asking myself,

what is my legacy? And I'll go back to Oprah again.

I really miss Oprah. And she was talking about

how Maya Angelou how she had told Maya Angelou

that this school that she's building in South Africa was going to be her legacy.

And Maya said, you don't know what your legacy will be. And I

always thought, Oprah, your legacy is everyone who watches you.

You taught me about Michael Singer and

Eckert Tolley and all these other amazing things. Your destiny

legacy are the small moments. And honestly,

over the last five years, it is the small moments that

make a difference. It's the small moments that have a ripple and butterfly

effect through life, in people's lives. How you treat

someone when you're in the grocery line and they're having a bad day

could completely shift their day. And the knock on

effects that they have, impact they have on others. So the humility

isn't actually realizing how small you are,

but how much power you have in the small moments versus

the big ones. And that's a good reminder for folks

with ambition, leaders with ambition.

Ambition is a well,

I'm going to paraphrase from base camp here. They're talking about VC.

Ambition is a hell of a drug.

And it's not necessarily a bad thing, but checking

your intentions. And that's the important thing, is your intentions.

And this is where we always see those executives before

they were executives. They're like, I'm going to spend all my time

helping develop talent and making sure everyone gets paid

right and gets opportunities. And then once they're in their role, they are looking up

to the next thing and they've forgotten who's behind them. So ambition about

building big businesses. Why? Because you have a great product for your customer.

You're providing jobs in a great place, jobs so

people can put food on their family's table. It's all about the intention

behind the ambition. What we have today,

and this is where the fourth Turning, I think, plays a big

picture. What we're seeing in King Lear,

too, is that people

aren't building or creating and what

they're chasing becomes smaller and so they become

more vigilant. If they're defining themselves

by their position and their power, then they're going

to start and that's all that matters. And that's when the tyrannical

and authoritarian traits start to come back, come into

play. Yeah, well, because.

Step aside. Well, not only that, but you're

constantly mounting a you're mounting a

defilade, rear focused defense

on an incredibly tiny slice of

an incredibly shrinking fat head.

And when you're mounting that rear facing defense,

you're so afraid of the future that you can't

let go. And so now you're trapped, right, because your

hands are full of the thing you have now.

And and I'm kind of a little bit in this moment now and so I'm

kind of talking to myself a little bit. You're kind of in a little bit

in this moment right now with some things, but you're so holding on so hard

to think you've got now, but you have to let it go

to grab onto something else.

I think of Grappling. I think of Jiu. Jitsu. Right. I always going to bring

a jujitsu at least once, a podcast, and this is going to be the moment.

But in Jiu Jitsu, if you're in a bad position and

this is one of the lessons like I've had to learn and it's really hard

to learn. Like when you first start, when you're a white belt and it

sucks and you're getting crushed all the time,

you want to just hold on for your life. It's like a roller coaster ride.

Like, yeah, I got this one hand in here. I'm holding on. I'm never letting

go. Right. But the reality is you have to

let go. You have to have the bravery, the courage to let go of

that position, to find something else because you

only have two hands. That's it. That's all you got. It's the concept of what

you resist, persists. Correct. Right. And if you

just step back and let go and

have trust that the good things will follow,

it's amazing what will happen. It's a scarcity mindset

and a fixed state mindset that puts you into a

tyrannical and authoritarian kind of world.

And we see this with Lear in his behavior.

Now, there's always usually a check on that.

And I want to talk about the blindness

of hierarchies because when

well, when Lear is challenged

a little bit in his decision making,

he doesn't really like that. And he kind of

sort of pulls the old

card of the old card, but he pulls the card of, I'm in

charge. I get to make this decision and I get to decide

what happens with my lands and how it's going to go.

And there's a check in the court

there and that check is as it is in our

own society and culture. And I think this was something important that Shakespeare

picked up on the check. Was the comedian or the fool.

Right. The fool. Right. Fool is

critically important psychologically. Fool is also important for

leaders. And it's important in order

to wake up those who are at the top of the hierarchy with

the all seeing eye to the fact that they might not be seeing

all the things that they think they're seeing. And so let's

start with the blindness of hierarchy. Let's go back to King Lear a

little bit. Let's open up with act one, scene four.

And this is where King Lear is

talking to the fool. And the fool is fool's

poking him a little bit in his court,

which is, by the way, the fool's job. By the way, the modern fool is

Dave Chappelle. That's the modern fool. Or Chris Rock.

Right. You keep your hands off the fool. Will Smith.

He has a right to Joe Rogan. Or Joe Rogan.

That's right. He has a right to be in the court.

You need him there.

Act one, seed four of King Lear. Enter, fool. Fool. Let me

hire him, too. To Kent. Here's my coxcomb. He offers Kent

his cap. Lear cow. Now, my pretty Dave.

How dosted thou, fool? To Kent. Sarah your

best bet. Take my cox comb. Lear why, my boy?

Fool? Why? For taking one's part that's out of favor to

Kent. Nay, and thou canst not smile as the. Wind.

Sits thou little to catch a cold shortly. Here. There, take my

coxcomb. Why, this fellow has banished two sons and daughters and

did the third. A blessing against his will. If thou follow him, thou must knees.

Lear my coxcomb. How now, ran uncle. Would I had two coxcombs

and two daughters. Lear why, my boy.

Fool if I gave them all my living, I'd keep my coxcombs

myself. There's mine. Beg another of thy daughters.

Lear take heed, akira the whip. Fool truce.

A dog musta kennel. He must be whipped out when the lady brock

may stand by the fire and stink. Lear a pestilent gall

to me. Fool. Sarah I'll teach thee a speech.

Lear do, fool. Market, uncle. Have more

than thou ShoWest speak less than thou

knowest, lend less than thou owest ride

more than thou goest learn more than thou

trowst that less than thou throwst.

Leave thy drink and thy whore and keep in a door and

thou shalt have more than two tens to

a score. Kent this is nothing,

fool. Fool Vintis, like the breath of an unfettered lawyer.

You gave me nothing for it. You make no use of nothing, uncle.

Lear why, no, boy. Nothing can be made out of nothing. Fool to can't

tell him so much the rent of his land comes to, he will not believe

a fool.

Lear a bitter fool. Fool DOST

thou know the difference, my boy, between a bitter fool and a sweet one?

Lear no, lad. Teach me. Fool that lord that counsel

thee to give away thy land complace him here by

me. Do thou for him to stand. The sweet

and bitter fool will presently appear. The one in motley

here, the other found out there.

Lear DOST thou call me a fool,

boy? Fool all other titles thou

hast given away that thou was born with.

Kent this is not altogether fool, my lord. Fool no,

faith, lords and great men will not let me. If I had a monopoly

out there, they would have part on it, and ladies, too. They will not have

me. They will not let me have all the fool to myself. They'll be

snatching. Uncle, give me an egg, and I'll give thee two crowns.

Lear what two crowns shall they be?

Fool why, after I have cut the egg in the middle eat up the meat,

the two crowns of an egg. When thou clovest thy crown in the

middle and gaveest away both parts thou bourse thine ass on thy

back or the dirt thou hast little wit in thy bald crown

when thou gayest. The golden one, away. If I speak like myself in this,

let him be whipped that first finds it. Fools hath never less

grace in a year for wise men are grown foppish and know not how

their wits to wear their manners are so epish.

Lear when were you want to be full

of sons? Sarah fool, I have used an uncle ever since

thou mast thy daughters, thy mothers. For when thou gavest

him the rod and puttest down thine own breeches he Sings

then they for sudden joy did weep and I for sorrow sung that

such a king should play Bo Peep and go the fools among rithy

nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that could teach thy fool to lie.

I would fain to learn to lie.

Lear and you lie. Sarah will have you whipped.

Fool. I marvel what king thou and thy daughters

are. They'll have me whipped for speaking true. They'll have

me whipped for lying. And sometimes I am whipped for holding peace.

I'd rather be any kind of king other than a fool. And yet

I would not be thee, uncle. Thou hast pard thy wit on

both sides and left nothing in the middle.

Here comes one of the pairings. Enter.

Gonerill. Lear hey, now,

my daughter, what makes that frontland on me? Thinks you are too much

late in thy frown,

fool. That was a pretty fellow without hast no need to care for her

frowning. Now thou art without a figure. I am better than thou art.

Now I am a fool. Thou art nothing to Gorill. Yes,

for sooth I will hold my tongue. See, your face bids me,

though you say nothing. Mum, mum. Neither keeps, nor crust,

nor crumb, weary of all, shall want some.

He points at lear. That's a

shell. Peace. God not only serves

this you're all licensed fool,

but other of your insolent retinue do hourly carpet

quarrel, breaking forth in rank and not to be endured riots.

Sir. I had thought by making this well known unto you to have found a

safe redress but now grow fearful by what yourself who

late have spoken and done that you protect this course

and put it on by. Your allowance, which if you should the fault would not

escape censure nor the redress sleep which in the tender of a wholesome wheel might

in their working do you that offense which else were

shame that then necessity will call discreet proceeding.

Fool. For you know, nuncle, the hedge sparrow feed the cuckoo

so long that it's had its head bit off by it.

Young so without the candle, and we

were left darkling.

Now, granted, there's a lot there.

It took me a couple of readings of that to kind of grab what the

fool was doing. But there's a couple of things there.

Well, the biggest thing, I think if

you look at act one,

scene four,

the biggest thing there is this idea.

And you get it with Lear first,

but then with Glauster later of blindness.

And the fool is trying to point out something because the

fool is the one who can see, the fool is the

one who can observe. The fool is the one who

can well successfully

point out when the king has no


The Earl Gloucester loses his eye in act three, scene seven. You may

want to go back and take a look at that. We're not going to read

the whole play today, as usual. And I always say that the Fogo Shakespeare

Library is a great library version of Shakespeare is a great version to pick

up. And of course, we cannot read the whole play, so we're dipping in it

out. We're making our points, but go back and read it. The earl loses his

eye in act three, scene seven, which put me in mind as I

was reading also what the fool was talking about here

and trying to get in Lear to open up both of his eyes.

I was put in mind of the blind Oedipus at Colonus

by Sophocles. And in that play,

one of my personal favorites, part of the triumvirant of

Sophocles plays about Oedipus, the man who killed his own

father and, well, married his own mother and forgot

the riddle of the Sphinx. Oedipus at Colonus,

when he's blind, he asks the chorus, men of Colonus,

how was I innately evil? Or other translations,

men of Colonus, how was I evil?

Lear, in his interactions with the fool, actually doesn't understand

how he's evil. He doesn't understand how he's missing it.

He doesn't see what the fool sees. He's beginning

the psychological blindness that will eventually wind up in physical

blindness at the end of the play.

There's also something here about the Western eye that is

very important for us to point out, for me to point out to you and

for us to note as leaders. If you look through Western literature,

the eye is dominant, particularly in Western art forms,

almost all Western art forms going back to Egypt, but really hyper dominant

in Western literature. So it's not just a blind Oedipus at Colonus or

the all seeing eye in an Egyptian hieroglyphic.

It's also that the top of Sauron's tower in Lord of the Rings,

there's an all seeing eye. And, of course, in the myth

of Osiris, the god is depicted as a disembodied eye.

And, of course, the Western view of art, we always say

that we are affixing a piece of art with our gaze.

There's something fundamental here in the west. It's not in

the east. And King Lear Shakespeare is grabbing

onto this, right? He's grabbing onto

this idea that Cole calculating and

scientific realism represented by a guy

like Edmund, and we'll talk a little bit about Edmund later on.

It's not seeing enough.

And that Lear's ultimate sin might

be that he didn't recognize that the higher up

you go in a hierarchy, the blinder and more fragile

you become.

A lot of different threads and thoughts in that.

But let me close with this. I got to

admit, and I'm going to go on record about this, and I've never gone on

record about this before on the podcast, so this will be a first. I don't

know why I feel compelled to go on record about this now, but I do.

So I'm going to go with it. It I'm not gigantically

worried about one world government.

Don't get me wrong. Guys like Klaus Schwab and the

World Economic Forum the people who believe they are the masters

of the universe, the people who are in governmental

bureaucracies behaving with corporations in a fascistic manner all

over the globe manipulating currencies and

doing things in the dark that should not be spoken of in the light.

Don't get me wrong. Those are folks to pay attention to and

those are things to be worried about. I'm not naive nor am I

stupid to those dangers and they should be battled at every step of the

way. But I don't think

it's going to work because the

eye becomes blind the higher up the tower

it goes. How exactly

are you going to control 9 billion people?

Actually I have even more important question than that.

If you can't even control a nation state of 2 million or

a locality of 50,000 or

a tribe of 500,

when you go to scale the arrogance and hubris that you will

be able to control whether through electronic, economic or

psychological means falls apart. This is why

I'm not worried about one world government and don't get me wrong I used to

be very worried about it and now not so much because

of the fragility of that all seeing eye.

Anyway, leaders what

can leaders take from this? How do leaders keep their sight Libby? How do

they how do they maintain vision?

And by the way, what's the role and a sub question what's the

role of the fool in the court of the CEO

these days? Particularly when we're all doing de and I and

trying to sanitize everything?

Yeah, these are all really good questions.

I'm inclined to speak to somewhat to

what you went on record about and you

got to know what's out there and what's a possibility. But I

do have broader faith in in the people and all

empires fall for the same reasons and it's because

they believe they've become too removed from

the the individuals. They've become too removed from

where they came from.

I find that the CEOs who actually walk

the halls and talk to the common man are much more

in tune to are going to build

better enduring companies than

those who come in and believe they know it all.

I have a good example of that. I won't go into it.

But one company the CEO shortly

did three years after he took office he was

kicked out due to an internal scandal and the other built

a business that grew and grew and grew above market

rates. So never lose

touch with the common man and never forget where you

came from. One of the things that I wrote down when preparing

for this is again those executives

who once they're in executive positions tell you that title doesn't

matter. They're never willing to give

it up right.

And to remember where you came from,

to always challenge your assumptions and

your intentions. It's really important. What is

my intention in making this decision and making this move?

Am I working for me or am I working for we

and creating that mindset around a servant leadership

where you're actually helping build conditions for everyone to

thrive versus conditions for me to survive.

Right? But all empires fall

when you don't have truth tellers at the table.

The fool was the obvious one. But there is one theme that

is really powerful, is that the good hide themselves.

They put on disguises. Kent and Edgar

both disguise themselves in order to try

to save the king from himself,

or Edgar tries to save Glauster from

himself. Both were willing to forgive and

move on. Edgar, his father. In his

final moments, Edgar forgives his father for turning

against him for a lie that he had believed was true.

So good oys prevails even those

who appear to have bad intentions, like Albany,

he ultimately ends up doing the right thing. He checked himself.

So even if you find yourself doing the wrong thing

in a moment, be vigilant

about doing a ruthless inventory of yourself and

catch yourself and change. And that's what Albany

did well in. Edmunds, a really interesting case

study, too, because I kind of circled

it and I wasn't quite sure we were going to cover it because it's not

covered in any of the sections that were multiply minorly touched on in any of

the sections we're going to read today. But Edmund is a critical character because Edmund

pushes the narrative forward through his actions and through

his deceit. And there's a great line

we're going to cover Othello coming up here very soon on the podcast, but there's

a great line in Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion,

where she says where she writes through

one of her characters voices in that novel. People often

ask, what makes yago evil? I don't ask anymore.

And that's a really interesting that's worthy

of pulling apart in the context of Othello. But in

reading King Lear, people will ask, what makes Ed medieval? And I

don't ask that, not after looking around in our

time. We don't talk about illegitimacy

in the kinds of ways that it was framed in King Lear.

And that would read to our modern years as just

being ridiculous and an anachronism. Right. Who cares if he's a

bastard child? Who cares if he's illegitimate? But that

actually means something. And this is something fundamental to like,

again, it's something fundamental to reality, the things that we're talking about today,

right? Things that are fundamental to human nature.

It's interesting, this Sunday you talk about going to church this Sunday in my church,

one of the pastors was talking about how we pay it.

God pays attention if you read the Bible carefully.

God pays attention to the

widows and the fatherless, right? And the foreigners, the sojourners,

right. The people that in our modern society,

based on our smartphones and our digital access, we don't pay attention to.

Right. Or if we do, we try to throw money at the problem and then

run away. Right. And he says that if

we want to behave like Christians, basically this is his point. We need to be

paying attention to things that God pays attention to and ignoring the things that God

ignores. Okay. And by the way, Jesus also in the New

Testament. Throughout the New Testament, right. Helping widows,

helping orphans, helping the fatherless chastising the

rich, particularly the rich young ruler. The story of the rich young ruler who

couldn't give away everything and follow him. Talk about the CEO

who couldn't give up his title. Right.

There's a thread through Western thought here, right.

And it runs through Edmund as well. And it's this

idea that if you don't pay attention,

this is part of that blindness to the fatherless in

particular, you are

sowing the seeds of your own destruction. Yeah,

I actually kind of see this a different way and

can make it a modern analogy. Going back

to what Oprah said about the fact that we all want to be seen.

Yeah. Edmund wasn't seen.

Now, he wasn't seen during that time by his father because he was illegitimate,

but it could have been he was the youngest child, and his father just didn't

spend time with him either. Right. And because he wasn't

seen, he had two choices to make. One was

to seek revenge on that who did not see him,

and the other was to go and live a fruitful life

and create opportunities for himself. The same

is, like, gone. Auroral versus Cordelia.

Gonerrell has a choice to either.

She decides to act out of fear and she

says this to her husband, is, I would rather be wrong acting

out of fear than to be wrong acting out of trust.

So she chose to turn against

her father because she anticipated how he would

behave, whereas Cordelia chose to do the right thing

for her and lived to her true values and lived a

good life. She wasn't

seen, and she chose a good path,

and Edmund wasn't seen, and he chose

a vengeful path.

Ultimately, it's about recognizing

human nature, and everyone has two choice points.

You can play a victim and seek revenge, or you

can say, I own my destiny and I'm going to create

a life for myself. Okay. So I'm going to push back a little

bit on that from the opposite end. A little bit. Okay.

Yeah, great. I don't want to be a

sucker. Well, if I'm 20

and I've grown up in this world and I

share the same things as youth from other times, it's not any different.

I distrust my elders. I can fix everything.

I can't even make my own bed, but I can fix the world.

I can get riled up about the injustices of the world.

Whatever the activist du jour ideology of the moment is,

I can go and run to that because that's the great adventure, right?

Because I want to have a great adventure because I'm 20. I want to have

a great adventure. Right. Everybody at 20 wants to have a great adventure. You're no

different than any other 20 year old, but okay, you think you are because you

have a mobile phone. Cool. All right. So you're going to go off and have

your great adventure. But in the process of having that great

adventure, I'm also because I've been exposed to all of this

stuff, I have a deep well of cynicism, a deep

well of cynicism inside of me. And so I don't want to be a sucker.

So there's this tension, right. I don't want to be taken advantage of.

Right. And you talked about it's interesting. You talked about how in the past

you got rapid, real feedback, right? Because the gaps between

distance, perception and reality were closed, were tighter.

Maybe now the distance between perception and reality

is more broad. Right. And the feedback

is not rapid, and it's very much not bona fide,

as they would say down here where I live, bona fide.

It ain't the real thing. And so now I'm operating in this well of

just nonsense, right? And I'm 20, and fundamentally,

at the end of the day, I want to have hope. I want to have

a great adventure, and I don't want to be a sucker.

Well, so this is where not

gone. Real, but cordelia doesn't read well to me.

I'm either going to be gone real or I'm going to be Edmund. I'm going

to pick one of those two. That's really interesting.

I would be cordelia. Okay.

Right. And I just know that about who I am because I have to live

with myself. Right? Well, and that idea of living with

yourself so you have to be willing. To walk away,

right? Right. I wonder if it's easier to be Cordelia when

you're 40 than it is to be Cordelia when you're 20.

I don't know.

I have an analogy that I use from third

grade. I'm friends with everyone, and I belong

to nothing. I actually really love learning

from all types of people. I belong to all different types of group, but I

don't identify myself as a group. Sure.

And one of the reasons I remember when I was in third

grade and I was part of the cool

club, friends with one of the Broncos

kids, and we were really cool,

and everyone wanted to hang out with us. And I

bullied my best friend from two years old

because she wasn't cool enough. And I still feel

that ick in my body. And I

knew at that moment that belonging was never important

enough to holding true to who I am.

The ins don't justify the means.

And so this concept around you need to live with yourself

is really important. It doesn't mean that I othered the cool kids,

I was still friends with them, but I

would not bully, I would not subscribe to all of their behaviors.

But you also see what you want

to see. So if you only believe that

there's one path, like anger and activism,

or there are role models everywhere that

disprove a belief system that you have,

it requires flexibility and a willingness to go against

the grain and not by.

There's such an innate human instinct

for us to label ourselves.

Because if we label ourselves, we provide ourselves with

certainty around who we are and how we should act. And then

others are certain with how they will

respond to us and react. And one

of the things with age that is terrific is that you start

to see that there is really no one path to

happiness. And when you start trying on different hats, like one thing may fit the

other, doesn't king willing to flex

and never being certain that only one path is right.

And that's one of the challenges that I see in youth,

is that they need like, I need to go to this school because it's going

to give me the path to this. It's going to be the path to

happiness, or this job is going to be the path to happiness. But when

you look at the people who have been successful, some people who

are happy and successful did take one path, but there is

an exception to every rule. Oh, yeah. And so being

flexible, I always say I'm not someone who's going to find a wall

and stop. I'm going to find a crack,

I'm going to find a crack, I'm going to dig under it, jump over it,

find another way. But knowing who you are

and what matters to you has

got to be that inner

pool and drive.

And understanding tribal instincts is really


Like the Stanford Prison Experiment. It's really important

to say, if I were alone and

not seeking to belong, how would I act? And as part

of the tribe, how am I acting? Well, and this is the challenge.

So we read Gulag Archipelago on the podcast

last year, and we're going to revisit Gulag Archipelago

not this year, but next year. We'll revisit that because there's some other

things that we need to pull from that text that

are critical for our time. We're also going to be reading

a couple of other heavy books this year. So we're reading Eli Weisel's

Knight, and we're also going to be reading The Power of the Powerless by

Voklov Hovel. And again,

there's a thread that goes through all three of those, right? From Gulag Archipelago

through Eli Weisel, through Voklov Hovel and even Victor Frankel

man's search for meaning. Right? There's some ideas. There's an idea that goes

through this, and the idea is that,


you can be the worst tyrant you could be as a tyrant to yourself.

But you don't know that when you're 20, right? That's right.

You have no clue about that when you're 20.

And when you lock yourself up into

a tyranny that is totalizing,

thus it is a totalitarian tyranny.

Whether that is a totalitarian tyranny pursuing a job

or a life that you think other people will appreciate

and will give you status, or whether it's pursuing some form

of activism to change society even though your

own household might be a mess. Exactly.

Whatever the totalizing tyrannical thing is that

you are in the grasp of,

you're going to wind up metaphorically

behind barbed wire, you're going to wind up behind barbed

wire, you're going to wind up in a problem.

And I think what

troubles me deeply is I think leaders are missing

and have been missing for a while, although maybe they're starting to

wake up. But I think leaders have been missing the opportunity to

state this as baldly as possible at the lowest possible

level. So I think about the kinds of people listen to our podcast

and the kinds of people listen to our podcast tend to be, and I said

this before when we were doing Road to serve them, they tend to be community

leaders, right? They tend to be people who are local to the community,

local to where I live, a little bit more national, too, a little bit

more national focus, business,

government, religion, those kinds of areas, right?

People who are thinking deeply about these connections, right, in a wide variety of

different spaces, and the greatest possible spot they

have to influence people is directly where

they are at.

And yet there can be totalitarianism there.

There can be a totalizing idea there that, by the way, they may

think is good, but it

can capture them and it can ideologically possess them the same way that

Edmund was ideologically possessed. Right?

That's one point. Then my other thought there

is, and by the way, when I was a kid, I would have been more

like Cordelia, except, like, I probably would have would have

taken gone real and King out back and we were going to fix this problem

tomorrow. That's how that problem is going to get fixed,

old fashioned, fix this problem, because I don't want to hear the taste of my

name falling out your mouth, because that's how

I solved problems. I was a kid and

I was always the person who, like, if I saw somebody being bullied,

I'm going to step into that situation, even if it's not, quote,

unquote, my business, right. Because I can't abide by

that. Even if it means, and many times it did when I was a kid,

even if it means me taking a beating, that's fine, I can take a beating,

that's fine.

But I was raised sort of with that moral assertiveness.

I also was born with the ability to be kind of

sort of a little bit, as you can tell from the podcast.

Disagreeable. So it's okay, right? I'm okay with not being liked.

In the world that we that's important.

You need to be okay not being liked.

Right. And in the world we live in today, that's the other dynamic,

right? Where in order to

tell the truth the way Cordelia does to her father,

you have to be okay with the consequence of that.

Right. And I want leaders to

be okay with consequences, because the leaders

that are most okay with the consequences get to be the adults in the room.

And I worry we don't have enough adults in enough rooms.

Agree. What's really interesting,

I also believe that it's in

everyone's best interest to speak the truth. Right. And I tend

to use a fact based truth and not a feels based truth.

Yeah. And there are leaders

as you're climbing the ladder, there are leaders who are going to appreciate that,

and therefore, you will continue to work together because

you're only trying to get at the truth or the best solution.

And then there are going to be leaders who are threatened

by the truth. And your willingness,

like, I'm a change agent. I turn around businesses and

I transform them. I'm going to be telling you uncomfortable

truth. And if

your leader believes that it's a reflection on them

and their self worth, then they'll be threatened by it and you will be

pushed out, either implicitly

or explicitly. But what I love about Cordelia

is that she was pushed out and

it also revealed the

other truth seekers and good people for

the more material ones. So Burgundy showed his true

cards. She only got to see his

true cards because she was able to speak her truth.

And France showed his, and he loved her for her,

not for the material goods. So she's going to

then therefore live a life more aligned with

her values because she's going to attract

those who are like her and reveal those who aren't.

Yeah. Well, this is good

because we're going to turn the core. We're going to talk a little bit about

Cordelia. Yeah, we're going to talk a little about Cordelia.

So we're going to read a little bit from act one, scene one,

right after the land gets

cut up like a Thanksgiving turkey

and all of the turkeys leave the room,

by the way, we didn't want to pause for just one moment. I do

want to kind of circle back around and close the loop on this other idea.

So how

do we get more of the fool back into the corporate boardroom?

How do we get the fool into the meeting? Because we

need those people. And again, I do genuinely worry

that in our pursuit of the good of everyone feeling comfortable,

everyone being agreeable, perhaps maybe not

comfortable with disagreeable. In the pursuit of having agreeable rooms,

we're not allowing the fool the space. To work.

And by the way, I don't mean the fool should be offensive or the fool

should be clearly like, whatever, right.

But sometimes I don't know.

You need to create the conditions. Like Ran Dalio in the way that he

leads his companies. You always have the

devil's advocate. You always have a pro versus a

con debate. It has to be rewarded.

And people observe what rewarding

looks like. So you have to invite it

to the table and reward it. And for

many leaders, you may actually need to go out and build that company.

Because right now, what we're seeing is

when everyone's compromising, you have a rapid

deceleration towards mediocrity. Same story with Anne

Ran, right? When all you want to do is be

liked and have everyone agree with you,

society is destroyed because all of our standards erode

in the name of being liked and not based

on competence or outcome. Well, and it's weird

to me how, like, you would have people who would be identified

in the past as iconoclasts in a wide variety

of different spheres, who are now part of the establishment.

And people who would never have been allowed into

the establishment, ever,

are seen as being the absolute,

just satanic living end by dominant

power structures. And I don't even have to say names.

People could figure it out. Right. This is

the cultural dynamic of the west that we are in now.

And the challenge, of course, with that is true iconoclasts

who may start off at the lowest end being fools and work their way up,

which is, again, I mentioned Dave Chappelle. I mean, I think he started off

well. No, I think I know. I've been watching that guy's career for

25 years. Like, he started off as the fool on the street

corner and now I would call him a genuine iconoclast.

It's because he and Chris Rock don't need to be liked.

Right, right, exactly right. But Chappelle

walked away from the foolery

of the corporate world because they

were asking him to be something other than he was. Correct.

That's why he still has the fool.

Well, he's got the cachet. Stern. Right. Where has Howard

Stern he's now fallen in love so much with being

revered that he can no longer see the truth.

Oh, my God. Howard Stern. Yeah. I mean, he's just a really great example.

No, that is a great example. Yeah. No, that's fabulous. Well, okay.

Or Neil Young. Or Neil Young. Yeah, there's another one.

There's another one. When you talk about and I'm

fascinated by radio and guys who do interviews. Let me

look what I'm doing now. But, I mean, I'm fascinated by all of that.

And the two probably well,

I wonder if this is fundamental to generations, too, because the baby boomer generation

in general really liked beating each other

at the game, whatever the game happened to be. So you have Howard Stern and

then on the opposite side of that. You have Rush Limbaugh, and they both liked

beating each other, beating their heads. They did.

I don't know if it's a Japanese or Chinese proverb, but when the elephants fight,

the ground gets trampled. And there was a lot of that debate over

generation, a lot of the elephants fighting. You go a couple of generations

down, though, where now we've got this idea of agreeableness being the

highest virtue, and you talk about it if you framed it

in terms of mediocrity, that's one one framing, and I would not disagree

with that framing. A larger framing may be and

buddies of mine have this discussion about sports,

right? Because the whole LeBron James versus Michael Jordan thing continues

to rage basketball. I am personally of

the belief that we will never see a Tom Brady level quarterback of the NFL

ever again. Like we just won't. Because that guy was fine

if you didn't like him, he just wanted to cut your throat out

to win. That was it. Didn't care. Oh, you don't like

me. Cool. Same thing with Michael Jordan.

If you could see behind my camera, I'm a Jordan guy,

right? He came not just to kill you, but to cut your heart out,

and he didn't care if you liked him. LeBron James cares

very much about who likes him on Twitter, and I don't understand

that. To me, that doesn't click over. And so as we've gone into this

level of agreeableness, competitiveness ambition, these things wind

up conforming to these spaces.

And this is where then you get speaking of radio, to flip back to radio

for just a second, you get all the people who would not have been allowed

through the narrow keyhole of radio are now running podcasts

because Joe Rogan they weren't going to let Joe Rogan on the radio. They never

let that guy radio never let that guy on. So just a minor observation there.

It's all about what you're striving for. And Michael

Jordan was striving for their team to be the best

team on the merits, right?

And by challenging and setting the pace and the

tone for his team, everyone else stepped up,

right? I say this a lot. I'd rather be

respected than liked. I don't really care if you like me. I want you

to respect me. Right? And too

many people care about being liked. And there's lots of fine people that I

like, but I don't respect the way that they make decisions, right?

I don't respect how they're living their lives and how they treat themselves

and others. But there can be lots of reasons for why I like someone.

And respect is a very different something very different,

yeah. Well, respect lands

in that place of I

think we see this a little bit in King Lear, but it winds up

it's that combination of merit driven by competency,

right? And I think we're missing something on competency, but it's merit.

We don't measure competency anymore. We're actually saying we don't

want to measure competency because people will feel bad.

Well, we don't even know how to define it, I don't think. Exactly. Which is

weird to me. Like, how do you not know? Okay, you don't know. Okay,

fine. But if you don't you you can't get to respect without

merit and competency and then you can't get to merit and competency without

a baseline understanding of what the parameters of a goal

are. So we're missing both the top of and this is a cultural

critique, but we're missing the top of the hierarchy in some

ways, and we're also missing the bottom of the hierarchy while the

middle gets hollowed out, which means, and I've

been saying this for a while now on the podcast. The west is approaching a

Tower of Babel or Tower of Babel moment.

And the tower can't stay up.

Everything's driven everything's driven by politics and emotion,

which means everything is unpredictable. When you're managed by the rule

of law versus the human nature, there are

at least guardrails that make it predictable

around how you win and lose. Like in business in about 2008,

people, they stopped doing performance reviews or goals.

Well, if you and now it's

hard to find like, a job description that's meaningful or understanding

how you measure success in a specific role. Well, what happens

when it isn't clear how success is

defined? You become more political and cutthroat.

And that's where the Tower of Babel happens, is politics

will always take over when you don't have clarity of objectives,

when you don't have clarity of outcomes and clarity of roles. And then, of course,

you get rule by the worst because you get people who are experts at politics.

Exactly. Everyone else drops out, moves out,

because does something different, which is fascinating.

Yeah, it's a fascinating psychological study. There's a little jog there.

I want to talk a little bit about the truth in Cordelia and

telling truth to power. Much is made

of that in our time. Back to the book, back to the

play, back to King Lear. The tragedy of King

Lear by William Shakespeare. Once again, the Folger Shakespeare

Library edition. I would encourage you to pick it up.

It's a smooth read, regardless of how I may have mangled

the Old English here, but it is a smooth read

with clearly defined stanzas.

As Libby said, it's almost like a library in

a book there. And I would also encourage you, by the way,

and this is something that's critical, I think, for understanding Shakespeare.

Shakespeare has to be absorbed in a couple of different ways. And so in

preparation for these podcasts, just a little Inside Baseball, I not only

read the Shakespeare, but then I also listen

to it for you and perform right. And there's many different performances of Shakespeare

on YouTube. You can just go find any of them. It doesn't matter. Pick one

and listen to it. While you're reading it, and it makes the thing flow,

makes the thing understandable. And then, at a third level,

I would recommend go out and find a film version that you

can of Shakespeare and watch that.

It makes it all digestible. And what

the heck, spend 799 on a DVD and

you'll be all right. All right. So back to

the play, back to Act One. We're going to go back to Scene

One a little bit later on, after, like I said,

after everything's been sort of cut up and Cordelia is speaking

to King Lear. So we're going to pick up with stanza 255.

255 to 260. Cordelia to lear. I yet beseech

your majesty if

for I want that glib and oily art to speak and purpose not

since what I well intend I'll do it to before I speak

that you make known it is no vicious, blot murder or foulness,

no unchaste action or dishonored step that hath deprived me of your grace

and favor. But even for want of that for

which I am richer, a still soliciting eye in such a tongue

that I am glad I have not. Though not to have it hath

lost me in your liking.

Lear better thou hast not been born than

not have pleased me better. France it

is, but this attireness in nature would often leaves the history unspoke. What it

intends to do. My lord of Burgundy, what say you to the lady loves

not love when it is mingled with regards that stands aloof from the entire point?

Will you have her? She is herself a dowry.

Burgundy de Lear royal king, give but that portion

which yourself proposed, and here I take Cordelia by the hand.

Duchess of Burgundy. Lear nothing.

I have sworn I am firm. Burgundy to cordelia. I am

sorry. Then you have lost. You have so lost a father,

and you must lose a husband.

Cordelia. Peace be with Burgundy. Since that respect

and fortunes are his love, I shall not be his wife.

France fairest Cordelia, that art most rich, being poor,

most choice forsaken and most love despised thee and

thy virtues here I seize upon. Be it lawful I take up what's cast

away. Gods, gods. Tis stranger, that from their

colst neglect my love should kindle to inflame respect. Thy doubloless

daughter, king, thrown to my chance, is queen of us, of ours, of our

fair France. Not all the dukes of Washless,

Burgundy can buy this unprised precious maid of me.

Bid them farewell. Cordelia thou unkind, thou losest.

Here better where to find lear

thou hast her, France. Let her be thine. For we have no such daughter,

nor shall we ever see that face of hers again.

To Cordelia. Therefore be gone without our grace, our love,

our medicine. Come, noble Burgundy.

Lorish all but France. Cordelia gonrial and

Regan, exit. France bid farewell to your sisters.

Cordelia the jewels of our father with washed eyes, cordelia leaves

you I know what you are. And like

a sister, and most loathe to call your faults as they are named

love well, our Father,

to your professed bosoms I commit him,

but yet, alas, stood I within his grace.

I would prefer him to a better place. So farewell to

you both. Reagan prescribed not us

our duty gonerill, let your study be to content your lord

who hath received you at fortune's alms. You have obedience scanted and

well or worth the want that you are wanted, that you have wanted.

Cordelia time shall unfold with plighted

cunning hides, who covers faults at last

with shame derides well may you prosper

France. Come by, Pharaoh. Cordelia france

and Cordelia exit that

little clip right there, a little piece right there of a much

larger dynamic that's occurring between France,

Burgundy, Gonorrhea,

Regan, Cordelia, and King Lear.

It's like watching a movie clip. And the reason why I pulled that is

because Cordelia, as Libby

has already said, cordelia committed all the way to the end on her principles.

See, the truth will set you free.

Free of influence, free of pulling the levers of power,

but not free of accountability for your actions.

There are some people in the leadership development space who would say

that Cordelia should not have spoken the truth. Cordelia should have shut her mouth and

stayed in a position of power, eaten the wrap

that was delivered by Gonorl and Regan, bited her

time, and then sprung the trap.

They would say that you can't influence from the

outside and so you must be on the inside.

They would also say that Cordelia can't tell truth

to power unless she's near to

the source of power.

But Cordelia understood something that I think a lot of those folks

who would advocate for that position miss. And I think it

is something that is important in our fractured age.

No longer are we in an era of mass media and mass

audiences and mass consumers and even mass consequences.

We are now fully, firmly in the era of micro audiences,

micro consequences, and micro interactions

that, of course, have major implications, don't get me

wrong, but they are still, at the smallest, at least

to this point, possible level, which is, again, one of those reasons why I'm not

really too worried about one world government.

Folks like Cordelia don't get to just skip away into a consequenceless

future. Nor does she make everyone, as we

already mentioned, happy with her truth telling. That wasn't her job. Her job

was to understand the difference between principles and position.

And truth tellers may lose materially, but they may win spiritually.

You have to be comfortable with your past. You have to be comfortable with who

you were and what you will become.

And Libby has already mentioned this as well. But sometimes the lure of

power and influence closes people's mouths to saying the truth with

the three C's clarity, candor, and courage.

I do fundamentally believe that it is those three C's

that we need now more so than ever.

And people who are willing to accept the consequences for

speaking with clarity candor encourage whatever they may be. And by

the way, we are now in the wake

of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And clarity candor

and courage has

proven to be just as in a short supply as I always thought it was,

or at least I always suspected it was.

And so we really need to pick up this we really need to pick up

this lesson we really need to pick up this lesson about principle, the difference between

principles and positions. We nearly need to pick up this lesson from Cordelia.

And by the way, this is just a small sample. She consistently,

character wise, walks this out through King Lear all the way

to well, to the clearing at the end of

the path. As Stephen King would say, a different

Stephen King. Not the one you see on Twitter. A different Stephen King. The one

that I know, the one who wrote The Gunslinger. That guy Libby.

Much is made of telling truths to power. Much is made of

raising your fist and protesting. I'm thinking in our contemporary moment

right now of events going on in Tennessee, in the

state government in Tennessee. If you want to Google what those are,

you can. They will all be wrapped up by the time you hear this podcast.

But that is just the latest example of,

I don't know, sort of the marketing of truth

to power versus the actual telling of truth to power with actual

consequences. How can leaders separate the marketing

from the actual thing?

Because the actual thing has actual consequences. Like when I talk about

job applications, okay, there's a way to frame this.

I see a lot of job applications, a lot that say they're

gobbledygook as far as what they want you to do. But at the bottom,

in bold print, it says, our organization has determined the COVID-19 requirements

must be met. So you must have a COVID-19 shop before you can show up

to interview for this job. And I just go,

nope, I'm not looking for a job right now. But like, if I were no,

then I'm out. There's principles

and then there's the position. Do those principles

have consequences? For sure.

And I wonder how

many folks understand the difference between

these two things. So how do we tell the truth to power? How do we

keep our principles as our position?

Or maybe we don't. Maybe we just need to be position driven.

People that wave, wave around with the

wind. They just wave around

with the wind. Negotiator like, I understand the value of

positions. I'm not knocking positions. And at the end of the day,

you have to have a principle, omar from The Wire.

You have to have a code. Yeah,

I mean, if positions aren't bound by

principles, you get what we have today.

Yeah. And it's really interesting what you talk

about, what we've seen over the last three

plus years. I always

knew that politics was a lot of rhetoric in theater.

I did not realize the extent of it that was theater

and how much of it is meant to just

drive our emotions and to keep us focused on

what they want us to focus on while they move their agendas

through. It's not

courage when you're saying what everyone is saying,

even when you act like you're saying it in anger and conviction,

all I see is someone who's towing the party line.

I tend to be focused on I tend

to be an outcomes based individual.

And you

had identified the owls versus the hummingbirds in one of

our early conversations, and I

was definitely more of a hummingbird when I

was in my twenty s and thirty s.

Now that I have been through many cycles economic,

political, familial, you can see certain trends.

And one of those on the political side is the rhetoric

doesn't ever deliver the outcomes that are promised. I don't

have to look far from the streets of Ran Francisco, and the

homeless crisis that was the top of Newsom's priority

list in 2010 has only accelerated into severity.

I don't have to look farther behind the streets of San

Francisco where we're basically conducting

assisted suicide with the drug epidemic

and the homeless epidemic. Those outcomes are not outcomes of

people who care. So after you

start to see cycles of false promises and false

prophets, you then need to start

to look for where the truth is and start to

act locally and as an individual.

George Carlin, who I never appreciated in the days he

was saying, they don't care about you, but you

don't want to get to. They being the government, they being big business.

That is true. At the end of the day,

like the power and elite is very insular and they're really focused on

continuing to advance their own positions. Whether they're aware

of it or not is another story.

But you do have the ability to act locally.

You do have the ability individually and in a decentralized

manner to live a life worth living.

And our role as leaders is to

do the right thing because it's the right thing and just

put 1ft in front of another and ignore the

noise. Let me ask you this question, which is always

the pushback on this? When I say something like this, or I do a

short episode that basically talks about the difference between principles and positions,

or I write a blog post and I've been writing blog posts about this and

books about this stuff for years now, right. The pushback I

always get is invariably, the pushback that I get

is, well, it's so hard, Hasan, to know what's right.

Give me a break. Really? Oh yeah. That's still floating

around out here. I have

the good grace not to laugh, not out

loud anyway. But it does make me

that the fact that that rolls so easily off of people's

tongues and

the fact that.

They'Re mistaking positions for principles.

Right. And they're

also mistaking principles for and

don't get me wrong, they run parallel. They do run

on parallel tracks. In some cases, they intersect. But principles aren't necessarily

morals or even ethics, though they do run

on parallel tracks. Okay.

And by the way, my response to that is always well, no,

I mean, when you don't do the thing that you're supposed to do

and you know you right. Well, and you knew you

didn't do the thing you were supposed to do, there's another old school

concept I'm going to hit you with that's called sin.

And then that's what I laugh and then I walk quick,

usually leaving those people kind of just flummox and just standing there looking at me.

I don't think things are as complex no,

not things. Let me be very specific here. I do not think the decision

to do what is right is as complex as people make it out to be.

I just don't think that it is. And maybe I haven't

been in areas of enough complexity. You mentioned San Francisco and

the homeless. I think crisis is not

ran appropriate, even word to use for this. The absolute total

societal collapse of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco

is an unbelievable black eye

on a black eye of an indictment on California

in general, california in particular, and America in general.

Okay. In the coal mine. Oh, my God.

And by the way, I would not have believed it if I hadn't gone there

a few lear ago with my wife and kids and seen it, like, up close.

I would not have believed that it was that bad and have gotten worse

since then. Would not have believed it. Thought it was all rhetoric and blown out

rhetoric. Thought it was rhetoric in theater. No, it's not rhetoric in theater,

folks. It actually is that bad.

The unprincipled people understand that the system

is run by politics. That's how Gavin Newsom gets to the top, because he's unprincipled.

He understands he's got competency in that space.

I'll grant him that. Yes. Yeah.

And so the people who would be competent

at fixing the problem with principles eject out

of the system, and many of them, by the way, post COVID, pack up

their bags and go to Utah or

Texas or

Florida or Tennessee or anywhere else other

than where they right and what you're left with. And we saw this most recently

in the most recent Chicago elections in 2023. Oh,

my God. Well, but who's left to vote?

And so it's going to be a self fulfilling cycle of nonsense.

Who's, at a

certain point you're

not draining a swamp anymore.

Okay, I'll frame it this way. At a certain point I

used to live in Detroit. I lived in Detroit for a few years in my

early 20s, rode the bus around Detroit,

actually, to go to my four different jobs back in the day.

And on the bus in Detroit was not to the king of heart back in

the day and then cleaned up Detroit. I mean, Detroit's gone through

some interesting things, and there's a little bit of a renaissance going on. It has

been for a few years, and that's good, by the way, for Detroit.

But in order for that renaissance to begin, Detroit had to and

there was a corrupt mayor, of course, Kwame Kilpatrick.

But there was a person in his administration who decided, we got to knock down

these buildings. We got to start somewhere.

We got to go after the slum lords who haven't

maintained the buildings. And I've allowed devil's nights and Halloween nights to just burn through

the city for the last 30 by that point, 30 freaking years,

like, we're not going to allow this anymore. One person decided that and

got the ball rolling. And, yes, Kwame Kilpatrick was corrupt in the court

was a court of a corrupt king. The man went to jail for sending text

messages to his mistress. By the way, your text messages can be subpoenaed,

folks. Keep that in mind. They are public record.

My God, how did he not know this? Anyway, also for hiring

his relatives and doing other corrupt things. Okay, cool.

But that was the beginning of the renaissance

of Detroit, because one principled person who we don't know the name of and probably

never will, was like, no, we're done.

That's the cordelia in King Lear's

court. Where's the cordelia? In San Francisco. I think a lot of people

are asking that. By the way, where is that person that's inside that just says,

you know what? You've got gubernatorial hair, and you may fire

me tomorrow, but this has to stop.

Well, this is that theme that is through King Lear

with the good people are in disguise,

like Kent goes into disguise in order to help

King Lear protect King Lear from himself. And the same

is true for Edgar, who acts as poor Tom,

right? And the nameless servant who kills Cornwall.

So these stories are of the individuals

who do the right thing,

and ultimately the

house of cards comes falling down.

That is the faith that I have in humanity.

And when you're talking about the one world order,

that's where I also hold

some faith in, is the power of the individuals

working inside. They're not the narcissists who need to be seen. They're not the

narcissists who are doing the right thing in order to be rewarded.

They're doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do.

One of the things that's beautiful about where we are in the

digital age is that all of the playbooks

by all of the corporations and all the politicians were exposed

because of the decentralized nature of the Internet and why

they want to censor the Internet so much is because it

was hard. Like they were playing Whack a Mole with the truth.

Right. And,

yes, we eject out. But I'm a big believer

that it's very hard to change a system from within. You have to change it

from the outside. I call it outside in transformation.

But you need to go out and build what good looks like,

and it will attract those who are like you,

those who will do the right thing because it's the right thing

exist. They're the exception. I wouldn't

say they're the exception. They're just not visible because they're not driven

by visibility. They're not driven by their ego. They're driven

by doing the right thing.

It's kind of like how many introverts do you need to overcome

an extrovert? Probably 50%

of the world is introverts. 50% are extroverts, and you need

eight introverts to overcome one extrovert. It's probably the

same with the ego driven versus the servant driven

leader. Right. And they're there. We just need to create conditions.

Like, if you've gone to Utah or central

Oregon, you're creating

a place outside of the Dystopia for

people to come to. John Gault could have done that in Atlas

Shrugs. Instead, he was keeping the good people from doing the good work. But you

could have created a place where you set the example and the

good came. You could say Florida is trying to do that.

Yeah. Well,

that's one of the reasons why, like, in July,

we're going to cover the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence yet again on

this podcast. I mean, we are going to do it again because there's

no I do not

think it is rhetoric. It may have been

I think it was Ronald Reagan when Ronald Reagan said it initially.

And it might have been John F. Kennedy. I might be putting on Reagan just

for the sake of putting on Reagan, but I

do believe the United States,

for all of our flaws and black eyes and monumental problems,

is still the last, best hope for let's be grandiose the last best

hope for humanity. Because there

is a system of checks and balances that

persists in and you mentioned the rule of law. Persists in

the rule of law, which is why it's so disturbing,

the ideological capture of law schools. Right.

That's even more disturbing to me than finance. Finance is one thing.

Money okay. But the law now

we're getting into existential things here. Now we're getting into

who gets prosecuted and who doesn't.

Is there a standard for everyone regardless of

money or power? And by the way by the way,

if you want to assert that there's never been a standard, one standard for everybody,

regardless of money and power, is there at least the attempt

to get to a standard? Because there's not even the attempt.

If we are now cynically throwing the attempt out, if we're saying the

attempt was never. Real. So we're just going to jettison the whole thing.

What's that? WB. Yates the

falcon can't hear the falconer second coming, the blood

dim tide. Yeah, that's what you're welcoming because

then it's anarchy. Then it is man every it's it's a hobbesian nightmare

that we have not even begun to understand. And so

the United States is worth protecting,

the Republic is worth defending, the Constitution is worth

talking about and examining and

knowing. And for leaders,

that kind of knowledge has to undergird your work.

The mob is never right and

that's one of the foundations for the

US being a republic and not a true democracy.

Mob rules will

dictate what individuals do that they ordinarily wouldn't do.

But a monarchy isn't right either. I mean, then you wind up Louis


No, completely agree.

Total populations and groups can be virtuous,

but there can get to a place

where people stop thinking. For example, when you call

half of the country evil or deplorable versus


I do believe that every individual has the propensity for good or

bad. Right. I believe that people

can change. I don't believe that you are a fixed state

in your personality. And as long as you believe that,

and people are given the opportunity to repent and

to be good, like Albany was,

that's the foundation, having belief in humanity, and that humans

can always choose to do the right thing. Even if they haven't in the past

is what we can do to move forward and

not get into a dystopia thinking that the world

will end. Because here we are today. You have

to believe in humanity. Well, you have to have

I call it hard headed optimism. Yeah.

Pragmatic optimist. Pragmatic optimism,

that's good. I'm going to borrow that. I'm a pragmatic optimist and I

don't think there's wrong with pragmatism. I think it's

passion is fine,

but passion is like fire. It can either cook your meat or it can

burn your house down.

And passion has to be directed

exactly right. And you talk about

guardrails, we've talked midget guardrails a couple of times.

We relied for the majority of the 20th century and for a good chunk of

the 21st. And this is now, we've now started to see

this sort of fall apart. But we've relied on the people who proclaim themselves to

be leaders, to maintain those guardrails.

And when the leaders themselves are pulling up the guardrails, putting them in

the field and lighting them on fire, running away and telling us there were never

any guardrails to begin with, now we've got a problem.

And the problem is with, again, leadership,

which is why we're doing what we're. Doing here, why measurement is so

important and outcomes are so important,

equal application of the law. We can all identify

exceptions to where it wasn't, where someone like a Kennedy got

off because of who he was.

And people can see that. But there's going to be an exception

for every one of those rules as well.

But at least looking for are we trying to dial

it in to be as perfect as possible,

recognizing that there's always king to be an error, not throwing

away the entire system,

identifying where it's flawed and fixing it.

And that's what we've lost is

nuance, which is a very common phrase, but we've lost nuance,

we've lost relativity, we've lost context.

And the small things now are perceived as the

biggest things on the planet, as problems. And so measurement

is so important, knowing where you're going, how you measure success.

Instead, we're getting rid of that and we're letting emotion drive everything

and objectivity and reason are gone for

those who are currently leading the country. I'm not saying that.

No. Right. No.

I'm going to go here. Two plus two still equals four at my

local wastewater treatment plant. Yes. Because if it doesn't,

I get poop in my water.

Yeah, right. Or the bridge falls down

or my gate doesn't work,

and I don't really care about the color of

the person's skin who's doing the two plus two equals four.

Not when I want the bridge the bridge to work and not

fall or the plane to fly or

to not. Have whatever in my water. Correct. Right.

So two plus two still equals four.

Merit and competencies still matter. And what

we measure matters as much as what is

being measured. Exactly.

And how we measure matters as much as what

is being measured. Let's turn our

corner. We're wrapping up here. We spend a little bit of time with Libby,

and I want to once again thank her for coming on the podcast. Always invigorating

conversation with

Libby unger. So let's turn the corner a

little bit here. Let's talk about the failure of the appalonian.

Let's talk about the failure of the eye and then the Dionosian lurking

in the basement. Let's talk a little bit about Edmund the


Back to the tragedy of King Lear. Act one.

Scene two. We're going to do a few stanzas here and there.

We're going to kind of jump around a little bit because I want to get

the words of Edmund out there. Want to give us a little bit

of a brief look at this fellow?

King Lear, act one, scene two. Enter.

Edmond the bastard. Edmund thou nature art

my goddess, to thy law my services are bound.

Wherefore should I stand in the plague of custom and permit the curiosity of nations

to deprive me for that I am some twelve or 14 moonshine's

lag of a brother. Why Bastard? Why wherefore base

when my dimensions are as well compact, my mind is generous,

and my shape as true as honest madam's issue?

Why brand they us with base with bastist bastardy

base, who in the lusty stealth of nature take more

composition and fierce quality than doth within a dull,

stale, tired bed go to the creating a whole tribe

of fops got Queen asleep and wait.

Well then, legitimate Edgar, I must have your land.

Our father's love is to the bastard. Edmund as to

the legitimate fine word, legitimate. Well, my legitimate,

if this letter speed and my invention thrive,

edmund the base shall pop the legitimate. I grow, I prosper.

Now gods, stand up for bastards.

Then Gloucester comes in, speaks to Edmund.

He exits. End of act one,

scene two. Edmund. This is the excellent foppery

of the world. That when we are sick and fortune often the surface

of our own behavior, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon

and the stars as if we were villains

on necessity fools by heavenly compulsion knaves, thieves and

treachers by spherical predominance druckerns, liars and adulterers

by enforced obedience of planetary influence and all that

we are evil in by a divine thrusting on an

admirable evasion of poor master man to lay his gauchish disposition on

the charge of a star. My father compounded with my mother

under the dragon's tail and my nativity was under Ursa Major so that

it follows I am rough and lecherous I should have

been, that I am had the maidenliest

star and the firmament twinkled on my bastardizing Edgar.

Then enter Edgar and Pat he comes like the

catastrophe of the old comedy. My cue is villainous melancholy with

a sigh like taboo bedland. Oh, these eclipses

do portend these divisions FA sola me.

He's going to talk with Edgar a little bit. He's going

to chat him up.

And then we're going to leapfrog a little bit over here to

act two. And we're going

to go to scene three in act two.

And we're going to

juxtapose Edmund's complaint with

probably the most famous soliloquy in

King Lear,

edgar's Song. Edgar act

in scene three, act Two. Edgar I heard myself

proclaimed and by the happy hollow of a tree escaped the hunt.

No port is free, no place that guard and most unusual vigilance

does not attend my taking. Whilst I may escape, I will preserve

myself and am be thought to take the bassist and most porous shape

that ever pernery and contempt of man brought near to

beast my face I'll grime with filth blanket my loins

elf all my hairs and knots and with presented nakedness

outface the winds and persecutions of the sky. The country

gives me proof and precedent of bedlam beggars who with

roaring voices strike in their numbered and mortified arms,

pins, wooden pricks, nails, springs of rosemary.

And with this horrible object from low farms, poor pelting,

villagers, SHEEPCOATS and mills,

sometime with lunatic bands, sometime with prayers and force

their charity. Poor turtley. God.

Poor tom. That's something yet. Edgar I

nothing. Am. And he goes

to repair himself to

potentially save the King.

Edgar and Edmund are two sides and

we've touched on it, we've touched on it, touched on. Now we're going to address

it directly. They're two sides of the Western idea.

Edmund, of course, is a bastard.

Back when illegitimacy actually meant something,

actually meant quite a lot. And I still do believe it matters quite a lot.

But we've moved it from the material level to even well, to the spiritual level,

even though there are material consequences for Illegitimacy that we can

see in any and all of our major cities. And then

we have Edgar. Edgar, who is willing to fall on his sword,

not only speak to truth, to power, but also take action in that truth

to engage with the

Dionysian forces that Edmund and even in his cold

rationality represents. Edmund represents

the rational Dionysian. He represents rational,

decadence. I hate you and

I seek revenge. There's many characters like this in Shakespeare.

I would argue that Hamlet's uncle in

Hamlet is this character. I would argue that Iago

in Othello is this character.

I would even argue that a couple of the characters in Taming of the Shrew

are these characters as well. Shakespeare plays with this psychological

idea in the pursuit of fiction, in the pursuit of literature. He plays

with this idea of the Dionysian as being rational,

but also being decadent, driven by these decadent emotions. We talked

a lot about emotion on this podcast, but driven by decadent emotions,

driven to pursue what is in, quote, unquote,

their nature. And then, by the way, in a world before, a good 300 years

before there was any psychological language, shakespeare understood

that the drivers of these psychological

behaviors were murky and cathonian,

and they lived all the way down deep in the dark heart of

man. Jeremiah 79. The heart is deceitful

above all else. Who could know it right now?

There's two other folks in here. We've talked about Cordelia, but we haven't

really addressed Reagan and Gone a real. And they

have female agency and something that Shakespeare

gets knocked very often for, how he portrays

his women, either as being too shrewish

that's the feminist critique against Taming of the Shrew, Catherine,

in Taming of the Shrew. But then you also get the feminist

critique against Cordelia. The feminists somehow miss that

Reagan and Gonrial drive much of the narrative

of King Lear. They are women in power. They are women

who are, in the parlance of our time, to be believed,

believe all women. I'm old enough to remember when that was a thing.

I'm also old enough to remember when Supreme

Court nominees couldn't define what a woman was.

Okay, all right.

Once again, evidence of the Dionysian, right?

If the Apollonian fails, this is the lesson for leaders.

If the eye of cold

rationality fails, the Dionysian always lurks

in the basement. There's always cathonian,

Mother Nature, darker things, earthier things,

uglier things to fall back into. And,

of course, this is what we build up against,

right? Edmund in

his seemingly Apollonian nature because by his words, he rejects

all of that Dionysian nonsense. The stars get the heck out of town.

I'm not driven by the stars. I'm driven by rationality. I'm rationally pursuing revenge.

But he was manipulated by female nature

without even being aware of it.

Cornwall, on the other hand, we haven't really touched on Cornwall

too much, but Cornwall was aware of the manipulation and he went along with it

anyway. He's like, no, this works for me. I'm going to do this until the

rail, until the wheels fall off. And they fell off pretty


And then Edgar Edgar's song,

edgar's Soliloquy song, such as it were, acts as

an anchor for the child. Roll into the dark Tower came by Robert

Browning, whose great first line of that poem is my

first thought was, he lied in every word.

Love that line.

There's a lot between Edmund and Edgar and Reagan and

Gonorrhill, but again, they represent the Apollonian and the Dionysian.

They represent the pull of villainy.

And we've talked a lot about that on this podcast because King Lear almost engenders

it. But the pull of villainy, right? In a time

of chaos, a time of venal appetites

and pursuits, a time of decadence when

everything's really falling apart,

how do we lose we've kind of maybe talked a little bit about this

already, Louie, but how can leaders address that chaos and

that villainy without losing their ethics?

Pragmatic optimism? Maybe that's the way.

Or lamenting even the reality of people.

How do you maintain hope? How do you stay a happy warrior?

Yeah, I think we've touched a lot on

this. I always come to come back

to the concept of that we all have good and bad in

us, and I look for the exceptions with

the good and creating conditions for the good to come

out versus focusing on the bad.

This also is about I mentioned change

comes from outside in versus inside out.

And that means you need to be willing to walk away.

You need to be willing to walk alone.

And none of this is said to be easy.

No. Right. I'm not trying to say, oh, you just walk away in the world.

That creates a fine place for yourself. But you need

to be able to walk away to stay clear, to stay true to

who you are. And you will attract

others like you to set the stage

for what good looks like.

I like that. I wrote that down. Build what good looks like.

I love that. And this

also comes from the concept of servant leadership, too.

It didn't occur to me until this year that

I no longer hear we I no longer hear

what we can do together. When talking to employees

about how they can contribute to a company or

even companies talking to employees, it's all about, what are you going

to do for me? Tell me what you did. What you did, I did.

And nothing is

accomplished with an eye.

And the concept of servant leadership is

it would almost be frowned upon to talk about

in today's corporate environment

where you're actually serving others because by

nature of being a servant, you're not in power. But I

look at the concept of all tides rise, a rising

tide raises all ships. If I'm helping you

to become the best version of yourself, whether you're someone who works for

me, whether you're a peer, or whether you're a board member,

investor, whomever, my goal is to

unleash your potential.

And in doing so, I also unleash my own because I

learn, I create more opportunity for myself.

Yada, yada, yada. But at the end of the day,

where's this concept about creating conditions for all to

thrive? And where is

the we and not the we as a tribe,

but we as a team, we as an organization,

we as ran ecosystem? How are we all working together

to help diverse individuals with diverse needs and

aspirations thrive?

I think we're at the end of division. And maybe I'm only speaking

from my point of view here,

my end of the telescope from what I'm seeing in my local community.

But I do think that we

collectively have hit the end of the cycle of

the eye. Now, don't get me wrong. It's ascended so high

that it's going to take the message has gone up so high, it's going

to take a while for the we message to get up. It's going to take

a while. There's still a lot of nonsense it has to push through.

From where I'm sitting, I do think that we

are getting it. Not maybe the

people who are leading us, maybe they aren't getting it. And by

the way, I mean, after a certain breakpoint and in politics,

I go above the state level, probably not. But from

the local level up. Yeah, the we is coming back for sure,

right? The we as a civilization,

right? Yeah. We as a tribe, seeing individuals for what

you can learn from them,

embracing our individual diversity and

true diversity, diversity of experience, diversity of thought,

all that kind of fun stuff.

But as they say, I think it's the Chinese character for

chaos is also the one for opportunity.

And in the midst of the chaos,

people are looking for something that adds meaning. And they're

realizing that these evacuous promises

and externally validating things are not

fulfilling. They're looking for something that gives them an

enduring purpose, an enduring set of enduring

set of meaning. Well,

I think you're seeing this culturally in the decline of the

superhero film.

So we've reached the end of the superhero film.

I can pretty definitively say that, yeah, I think that genre

is dead.

I'll push it to 30. It had a good 30 years.

It warped everything because of the amount of money that Disney

put behind marvel films, which are really quite frankly,

I love how you put a rhetoric in theater. They're rhetoric in theater

with spectacle on top. And they had nothing

to say after the spectacle. Right.

Remarkable silence after the spectacle. Even though there

are a wealth of stories to be told in the canon, trust me,

I know. I collected comic books for many years. There's a wealth of stories

to be told in the canon,

but the stories don't match the rhetoric in

the theater. And so if

what you're selling is rhetoric in theater through

a heightened cultural message of,

I not we. I am Iron Man.

I am Shazam. I am Superman.

What's? Batman famous. I'm a Batman guy. I'm Batman. Okay.

Well, yeah, okay.

The rhetoric and the puffery isn't delivering.

Right? I think we start, you saw early on

with PR and corporations, and after a while, we're like, oh,

they're going to come out with a PR statement. And then it started moving to

the puffery and politics and the puffery. Everything was

puffery and statements that we are.

But when you looked at what was actually delivering, you're like,

just hogwash. All you care about is money and power. So all

of the gilding is, like, starting to wash away,

and people are starting to look at real sources of value and truth,

and they're finding it locally. But if you believe in the human condition,

if you study history, if you understand human nature,

you can have faith in the cycles

of time and know, hey, it may not be easy. You may be

the person who sacrificed on the altar, but at least you get to live with

yourself. I was

going to ask you, what can we take away from this? How can we stay

on the path? What can we take away from King Lear? And I think that's

a good takeaway. I think that's the takeaway.

And you may end up with, like, you've got spiritual wealth,

you may end up with material wealth, you may not, but at least you can

live with yourself. And the people who are

more spiritual seem to be happier after

the ephemeral. Well, fundamentally,

it's one of those things where I think

well, I think yeah. I thought for many years,

I'm going to be dead a lot longer than I'm going to be alive.

So since I'm going to be dead a lot longer than I'm going to be

alive, I should probably be worried about that

king of stuff and making sure that all that's aligned,

because eternity is a really long time,

like, really long time.

Even if there is no life after death. Yeah. Even if we take the

Pascal. Right, yeah. Pascal's wages that are dictated

all make life better. Right.

Why do I want to take dictates and mandates from people who

can't manage their own households, whose kids are striped with addiction

or health policy, from people who are clearly

anorexic or have problems with overeating?

Right, exactly. Yeah. Sorry.


exactly. Well, and that's where the Jordan Peterson

idea of make your own bed comes from.

And this is where I look at people who

are in activist positions who yell and scream a lot

about a lot of things. And I do. I wonder

as I read their tweets and their proclamations and I watch

their performative acts, and I wonder,

what is your family like?

And as an individual, I have compassion for them.

Right. I want them to be struggling. I want them to find happiness with

themselves. But I'm not going to take rules and orders

from people who don't, as you said, right. Their own house isn't

in order. Focus on

your side of the sidewalk, I'll focus on mine, and we'll be really happy.

And that means I keep mine clean, right?

Exactly. All right. Well, in turning

the corner on King Lear, I think we've determined what Libby believes

is the larger message for leaders for staying on the path.

I will say this king Lear is often framed

as a tragedy. Matter of

fact, on the back of the Dover Thrift edition,

it says that first performed about 16 five, king Lear

is one of the most relentlessly bleak of Shakespeare's

tragedies, probably written between Othello and Macbeth when the

playwright was at the peak of his tragic power.

Lear's themes of filial, ingratitude,

injustice, and the meaninglessness of life in a

seemingly indifferent universe are explored with unsurpassed

power and depth.

Yeah, okay. If you just read

it for what it is on the surface, absolutely.

It's relentlessly nihilistic. It is lear. There is

an existential struggle, and the

universe does to Neil degrasse Tyson

or Richard Dawkins glee, I would imagine, reveal itself to

be just about as dead

end and meaningless as you would think if you came from that particular set

of ideological assumptions. And yet

we're not reading things into the text that are not

there. There are multiple interpretations of Shakespeare's

work, just as there are multiple interpretations of King Lear.

Just like when you watch a movie or a television show,

like a Succession or a Yellowstone, you have to contextualize

Shakespeare to your moment. And by the way, this is why Shakespeare

will survive both the nuclear weapons and the cockroaches,

if it comes to that. They'll still be doing Shakespeare in China

or in India or among whoever is left,

because it's human nature,

not English nature or

white European nature or patriarchal

nature. You could switch around all

of the roles in King Lear, as Akira Kurosawa did

in Ron, and it would still be the same,

because the drivers are human. Are the

drivers of humanity bleak? Is there injustice in

the world? Yes.

But there's also hope. There's also optimism.

There's also building what good looks like. Use that

a lot from Libby today.

There's understanding the difference between principles and positions, and there's

not getting caught up in spectacle or rhetoric in theater.

There's not getting distracted. They're standing firm

in the face of chaos and villainy. And just like Cordelia

does and many others in King Lear,

including Edgar Silently,

nor maybe even out loud, but silently asserting

yourself and saying out loud just one

word, no leaders.

We have to learn the power of the no. I think that's the biggest lesson

from King Lear. If there's anything we could take from Cordelia, it's the power

of the no. If there's anything we could take from Edgar, it's the power of

what you do after the no has been given. Regardless of how many

Edmunds or Lausers or Kent's

or attendants or servants who's surrounding you,

the characters really don't matter. None of

them are going to help you at the end of

that existential struggle and the clearing at the end of that path.

Now, Lear got lucky. Cordelia was with him there at the end.

That's luck.

In our modern era, Lear would probably be written and I get the

sense of the father in succession. And potentially, whatever they do

with the Kevin Costner character in Yellowstone is going to wind up alone in

a room by himself. And it usually is a man,

by the way, ladies, full of regret.

But it doesn't have to be that way. We have agency,

we have choice. We can take

the lessons from King Lear. We could take the lessons from Shakespeare. We could apply

them to our lived lives. We could

build a better society and culture starting at the lower local level.

We could build a we together where

we can all see with collective eyes and

create a vision for the future that's worth


I want to thank my guest, Libby Unger, for coming on the

podcast today. Always a great pleasure to have her. We will have

her on again. There's another couple of books coming

up in a few months. We're going to have her on again.

Libby, is there anything you would like to promote today

on the podcast? Anywhere where people can find you or where you want to

be found or do you want to be found, even?

No, I don't hide. You can

always find me on LinkedIn, Libby Younger,

and ping me there or email me

directly at libby@luminola.com.

And you can add that to the show notes. But this has been

fabulous. Don't lose hope. Do the

right thing. The only person that you need to be able to live with is

yourself and do the right thing,

because it's the right thing to do. And with that,

I'm out.