Robert Greene describes in his 6th law, that attracting attention when rising to the top is essential. More importantly he states, “the quality of the attention is irrelevant”. We have seen this statement fail in several instances in people’s lives. Many people have believed that bad publicity is actually good publicity because it keeps your name in the public eye. However at what cost does this have on one’s soul?
As leaders, if we are honest, there are times that we want to seek the attention of others; be on top as the crowds admire our success. In those moments of self seeking attention, we find ourselves drunk with the notion of being discussed in various social circles and wanting to forever be in the minds of people. In Greene’s book, “The 48 Laws of Power”, he glorifies duplicity as the key to achieving this distorted feat and explicates it will make one “appear larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses”. He continues to discuss in this chapter how society craves for larger than life individuals that command our attention, thus in his mind proves this skill is relevant in achieving self-significance and power. According to Greene, displaying actions that may be contrary at times to who you are keeps people intrigued and thus causes them to want to know more about you.
Commanding attention is important to a leader. Whether one is in the pulpit preaching a sermon or leading a strategy session at work, captivating the attention of the audience is one of the key components a leader must own. However, there is an appropriate way to command attention without being deceptive and evasive within your own personality. A leader does not have to “occasionally utter ambiguous phrases, deliberately appear inconsistent, and act odd in the subtlest of ways” (The 48 Laws of Power) to command attention. The only established alignment I have with Greene in this chapter is around the element of capturing people’s attention by not “showing all of your cards”. It is acceptable for people to not read you like a book. According to Greene, “most people are upfront, can be read like an open book, take little care to control their words or image, and are hopelessly predictable”. People are intrigued when there is more than meets the eye about you. However you do not have to feed the intrigue through deception. I admire leaders who can command attention either through the words they speak or do not speak. When you are around skillful leaders they sometimes command attention through their silence instead of their oratory skills. It builds a mystery around them and people are wondering what they are thinking and want to hang onto every word once they speak. An effective leader attentively listens, carefully chooses their words, and selects the right time to be vocal, which in turn creates the greatest impact as well as command the attention of others.
Self seeking attention births signs of insecurity and the need to be the constant center of attention. We have seen leaders today display these characteristics and have books written about them titled, “The Rise and Fall of “X””. For self seekers who only command attention for themselves, there will be a fall. They may be at the top today but the ascension is fleeting. As a leader, aspire to command attention only to build others up. Court attention at all costs in order to inspire, motivate, and lead others to their greatness and not your own.
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