April 23, 2018

649 words 4 mins read

Eric Greitens in His Own Words

Eric Greitens in His Own Words

My blog includes links to related posts at the bottom of every individual post page. I usually don’t pay much attention, but today I noticed something. (BTW, this new theme looks great on phones.)

One of the old stories in the Eric Greitens category was my first comments on his book Resilience. My old post talked about why it took me so long to finish the book. And it contained two short passages from the book. Passages that relate to yesterday’s post.

Take at look at what Governor Greitens wrote about people making mistakes:

The Greeks recognized that great people could fail terribly and still be great. Wise people could sometimes be dumb. Courageous people could be cowardly. Honest people could lie, and compassionate people could be cruel.

Today, in a culture that should know enough to be forgiving of human weakness, we often fail to remember that people are not great all the time. People practice greatness. They perform with greatness. People practice courage. They perform with courage. And then, one day, they don’t. This does not make them cowards. It makes them human.

Eric Greitens, Resilience

For those of us who supported Governor Greitens early on and influenced our friends to support him, learning of his moments of weakness was painful and frustrating. He acted selfishly and cruelly and it hurt many people.

When someone’s actions hurt us, it’s natural to feel anger and resentment toward the person who caused the pain. That tendency is even stronger when the pain comes from someone holding high office. And it’s even stronger when that person clearly _knows better_. Eric Greitens isn’t just your average governor. He is a philosopher who studies and practices Stoicism.

But Governor Greitens is also wise enough to know people aren’t perfect. Even well-educated humanitarians have flaws. And, as he said, even great people can make stupid mistakes. And, yet, remain great.

Peter Drucker, the business guru, said something similar and useful many years ago:

Whoever tries to place a man or staff an organization to avoid weakness will end up at best with mediocrity. The idea that there are “well-rounded” people, people who have only strengths and no weaknesses (whether the term used is the “whole man,” the “mature personality,” the “well-adjusted personality,” or the “generalist”) is a prescription for mediocrity if not for incompetence. Strong people always have strong weaknesses too. Where there are peaks, there are valleys. And no one is strong in many areas. 

Drucker, Peter F.. The Effective Executive (Harperbusiness Essentials) (p. 72). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Missouri has but one governor. The man in that job is clearly a man of remarkable strength. And with that strength comes weaknesses. Wise men and women recognize this. Fools favor mediocrity or incompetence. Or worse.

The alternative to Governor Greitens is Mike Parsons. Parsons is a darling of the tax-credit lobby, a slave to huge corporations, a dealer who rarely tells lobbyists “no.” 

While Governor Greitens may have given in to temptation while preparing to run for public office, the alternative uses public office for personal gain. The alternative epitomizes the swamp.

Americans and Missourians have paid the price for choosing leaders to “minimize weakness,” as Drucker put it. That’s resulted in over 10 years of incompetence and mediocrity. Voters who won’t tolerate any weakness in their leaders perpetuate weakness in society and government. Drucker was right: where there are peaks, there are valleys.

We need some peaks, people. And, to reach the peaks, you have get through the valleys. 

I hope and pray Governor Greitens continues his fight. And I pray that our legislators display wisdom and competence by rejecting calls to undo the 2016 election. I still consider Governor Greitens a friend and a teacher. And I will try to be better about calling people “yellow” because Eric Greitens was right: bad decisions don’t make people cowards; they make them human.