Shut up and row, or, good leaders are rock star divas
March 4, 2017 § 68 Comments
Good leaders make unreasonable demands; and good followers meet those demands obediently, without making a lot of static.
In the comments below, Mike T writes:
…in ordinary circumstances there is likely no defensible reason why something which is good or neutral should be prohibited by an authority.
I couldn’t disagree more.
There is a now-famous story about the rock band Van Halen. The band members were such entitled divas, the story goes, that they would bury a rider in their contracts for a bowl of M&M candies in their dressing room with all of the brown candies removed. If the bowl of M&M’s wasn’t there, or if it contained even a single brown M&M, the band would (or was contractually entitled to) cancel the show and engage in general acts of destructive mayhem.
David Lee Roth explains the real reason for the M&M contract rider:
The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes …” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”
So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl … well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening.
A good leader always makes a few unreasonable demands here and there, and rightfully expects his followers to pay close attention, shut their pie-holes, and do what they’ve been told to do. Loyalty which is never tested isn’t true loyalty. Obedience isn’t obedience when you are only ever told to do what you want to do or agree you ought to do.
Decent civilizations require good followers. Some leaders are genius enough to herd cats, to be sure. But they are few and far between, and genius has no succession plan.
So if you want to live in a decent civilization, you’ll learn how to shut the **** up and row.