The Leader You Seek is Within You

The Importance of Self-Governance in Fighting Tyranny and Building a Beautiful Nation

On the plane to Singapore, December 6,2015

I don’t get the logic of the political system the way it’s been interpreted:

A relatively small bunch of political elite will slug it out in a popularity contest, while the majority sees who is most popular (or who will pay them), a pretty irrelevant middle class gripes and debates on who is the best without a firm understanding themselves on how democracy works or how crucial our collective individual day-to-day actions contribute more to the beauty or horror of our nation (which proves a lack of political education and personal  discipline to be the change they seek), and what this rising middle class seeks most, is to be able to live and spend like an extremely tiny wealthy class, who continues to benefit greatly with whoever is in power, without thoughts of not just the importance but the beauty of equity.

And we believe this setup will make our dreams of a great country come true?

So much for being educated. So much for logic. So much for understanding.

In my effort to understand governance, leadership, politics, and national greatness more, I’d like to share some of my notes in a multiple-part series that has one point (spoiler alert): The Leader You Seek is Within You

I. A Maturing View on Beauty
I love flying to Singapore. I love it not so much for the shopping or the eating (it’s not like I can spend that much) but for the testament that it is. It’s a testament to the possibility of transformation despite incredible odds and the benefits of discipline. But no matter how much I love what Singapore stands for, I love the Philippines more – despite what it currently stands for in the world stage. I love the Philippines because I find it beautiful.

I’ll be using the word beauty throughout this post because it’s an amazing word. It’s what makes life amazing. Beauty is different from glamour. Glamour is something bright and attention getting. Beauty is something so excellent it speaks to your soul. Glamour is found in flashing lights and a red carpet. Beauty is in the twinkling eye and gentle smile. Glamour is your outfit when climbing a mountain. Beauty is the breathtaking view of the sky and valley bellow. Glamour is in the awarding ceremony. Beauty is in the dynamic mind. Glamour is in the richest list, the magazine features, and the press releases. Beauty is in the fulfilling feeling of being a cohesive team delivering value for all stakeholders day after day after day.

We’re all chasing beauty. Sometimes, and I’m very guilty of this, we fail to make the distinction between what’s truly beautiful and what’s passing glamour.

The older I get, and the more my views mature (hopefully they are), I find that a large part of understanding beauty means moving from falling in love with the latest greatest features to loving that which you have and in the process making its features greater. It means moving from being easily enamored by the newest stars to cherishing the shared history of your deepest relationships. It means quitting the jump from “great opportunity” to “great opportunity”, and instead, planting deep roots to grow into something great yourself. It means we spend less time being a fan or critic of beauty and seek to become more beautiful ourselves. And I love the Philippines, I’m committed to making its features greater, I enjoy learning about our history and heritage, and as much as I’m inspired by my travels, my roots are here, and I’m determined to becoming a contributor of beauty to the country.

So I’m writing this hoping that it will help inform my readers leading into elections next year, but even more, that the young of this country won’t be like the current generation who is content to contribute “the little that I can” . I hate it when I hear that. I hate it at work, I hate it in non-profits, and I especially hate it from people who feel so entitled to great things but only want to contribute “what they can”. Does it make any sense to go to a Ferrari shop and tell the manager, “I want to drive your most expensive car but I will only pay P10,000 for it”? No. It doesn’t. Why do we think we can do so with greatness? If I want something, I must pay its price. And if I don’t, I have no right to feel entitled to it.

I’m hoping that this inspires others to pay the price for progress, for what can be a more beautiful purchase than to see lives thriving, and of the billions of lives in our world, what can be more beautiful than the lives of our countrymen?

II. A Maturing View on Freedom and Liberty

III. A Maturing View on Equality

IV. A Maturing View on Fraternity

One of things I ask our teams on a regular basis is “What does that even mean?” When we say we need to be growing, or need to innovate, or need to be excellent, or need to have a great culture, or need to be inclusive, or a learning organization, what do these mean to us in practice? How do these things translate to our daily activities?

And we remind ourselves of this truth: A team is great not merely because the leader desires greatness but because the whole team shares the price of greatness. A team is excellent not because it proclaims it but because the people in the team practice excellence. When we say a company is innovating, or is growing, or is learning, what we really mean is that it’s people are innovating, growing, and learning. It’s been a good practice for us to move away from what I call “professional opinioners”, people who have an opinion on everything, comment on everything, so affected by everything, but can’t hit their objectives, who aren’t on the path to independence but burden those around them, and don’t contribute consistently to improving that which we believe should be improved. It helps us move away from mental snacks: enjoying thought leadership from blogs, articles, quotes, that puff our brains but don’t really lead us to healthy action.

The essence of fraternity (and I’m not talking about those campus groups with unnatural commitments and bonds), is that we are responsible for each other. That the thriving of others is part of my duty. When we combine the idea of freedom/liberty with fraternity, we get this concept: My neighbor is my responsibility but the way I influence the thriving of my neighbor is not through coerced collaboration but by taking my individual liberties and using them in such a way that the community benefits.

Here’s the point: If you truly want a greater Team Philippines, practice the greatness that you seek in your own life for the good of others. Want a more just system? Let’s be more just in our dealings (maybe we start by paying household help and drivers something that corresponds to minimum wage – that’s why there’s a minimum wage after all). Want a more disciplined country? Let’s be more disciplined in our daily life (maybe start by coming on time and following road rules). Want a more beautiful community? Let’s be more generous ourselves. Let’s not litter ourselves. Let’s not just consume inspiration, but be daily inspiration for others.


To be continued…

David Bonifacio

David Bonifacio Husband, Father, CEO of Bridge. #DB

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
j - December 30, 2015 Reply

Hi, David. What did you have to sacrifice or give up in order to be great in what you do?

Mike Tan - January 1, 2016 Reply

Totally Agree. Cool Insightful post. Keep it up ,

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