This morning’s Pre-Caffeinated Wisdom: (Disclaimer: I’m more Pre-Caffeinated than usual, to the point that the screen is pretty much a blur. Allergy to Wasp Stings + Benadryl, plus a Monday pretending to be a Tuesday = Me feeling like I have a hangover, without the fun and stupidity of drinking the night before. That said…)

One of my favorite stories (Though I can’t recall atvm where I heard it, was about Alexander the Great, one of the most powerful and successful rulers in history. He had a servant who followed him everywhere whose sole job in life was to whisper in Alexander’s ear, “You are just a man.”

Power corrupts. Yadda yadda, you know the rest. When you question authority, one of several things happen:
(1) Authority punishes you for your impudence.
(2) Authority ignores you and/or deflects the question. (I find religious leaders and politicians are especially good at this, by simply answering a different question than the one you asked, avoiding the original question entirely. This tactic is usually very effective on sheeple, which is why it is so popular.).
(3) Authority flounders and crumbles.
(4) Authority admits their inability to answer, usually with the statement of intention to learn the answer.
(5) Authority rises to the challenge, either answering the question outright, or presenting a solid argument to support their stance and/or actions.

Options 1-3 are signs of bad leaders. (1) is a dictator, (2) is a Manipulator, and (3) is incompetent. Following any of these three is folly as they will inevitably fall, taking you with them.

(4) is a sign of a wise leader, willing to listen to his/her followers, learn, and become better. Between Martial Arts, Church, School/College, and Life in General, I have had many teachers. Those I have respected the most were those who would admit their ignorance (Not to be confused with Stupidity. For those of you who do not understand the difference, Ignorance is lack of Knowledge and is correctable. Stupidity is lack of Intelligence and is a permanent condition. Which category do you fall in?) and will aspire to learn the answer to both answer your question and enhance their own knowledge. I am even more impressed when they not only seek the answer themselves, but also encourage you to seek your own answer and compare notes. Remember, Knowledge is power. Taking someone else’s word for something without doing your own research is like taking a gun from someone to defend yourself against the Zombie Horde and trusting that it is full of ammo and chambered without bothering to check yourself… Not wise.

(5) A great leader does not fear challenge. One grows stronger by accepting and overcoming challenges, and even sometimes by being defeated and learning what went wrong to prevent it from happening again. I constantly challenge authority. For one, I’m just an @$$hole who thinks he knows (almost) everything, but also, if I’m going to follow someone, I have to be able to trust and respect them. If they constantly fall into the (1)-(3) category, follow at your own folly. (4) is a good leader, willing to learn and has the potential to become great. (5) is great, and each challenge conquered only makes him/her greater. I personally know of one leader that I currently follow that no matter how much you challenge, question, or downright argue with, he always comes out on top. And in each case, I respect him more, understand him more, and am willing to follow him even further. Much to his annoyance, I have questioned/challenged him so many times that even when he does something I consider out-of-line or off the wall, I know he has solid reasoning and a plan, so I don’t even have to ask the question anymore. Often I will at a more convenient and appropriate time, just for my own personal enlightenment and education, but he has proven himself time and time again.

What it boils down to is this: Authority that cannot rise to a challenge has no business being an Authority. Authority that accepts and overcomes your challenge is someone you should stick close to and learn as much as you can from. My own personal philosophy is to challenge Authority to weed out the week and make the strong stronger. This is an age old concept referred to as ‘Survival of the Fittest.’

As a final note, keep in mind, there is a time and place for everything. If you are in the middle of a battlefield, you do not question commands. People will die. If you are in a Martial Arts class, you do not question the Instructor. (Unless he asks if you have any questions.) You will be punished. After the battle, after the class, on a break, or something similar, then ask. Another age old adage: ‘Timing is Everything.’

— at Castle Grayskull (Zombie Plan HQ).