The Path Not Yet Considered

Leadership, by definition, is an unpopular opinion.

It is impossible to take the lead by conforming to public opinion, by acquiescing to a perceived consensus, or by trying to be popular instead of right.

Leadership requires that we break away from what has already been done, what is being done, or what is obvious to everyone else as the next, most obvious step in what needs to be done.

Leadership is an inherently rebellious act. It is not merely the road less taken, but the road not yet seen, not yet imagined, and not yet cleared of the brush and the bramble.

Leadership is a new idea, stance, position, or direction, not for its own sake, but for the sake of all who would benefit. Leadership is never selfish.

New does not necessarily mean better, however. In fact, in order to have an idea that is both new and good, we must first have a lot of ideas that are new and bad.

A lot of failure goes into one single success, but therein lies the inherent risk of leadership.

Leadership is the willingness to fail at something new with the hope that it is also better, but with the honesty and humility to accept when it is not and then to start over.

New and popular are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but, when they are the same, it is all but guaranteed that new came first.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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