In business it isn’t uncommon to look to leaders of the past for inspiration. Somewhere on the corporate ladder right now there’s a guy with The Art of War on his eReader. So what that it’s only 10% read so far. Someone else probably has a book by Obama knocking around. But it’s rare indeed to by completely blown away by a current leader in the moment it’s all happening.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has been thrust onto the world stage as Russia makes it’s big play for his country, Ukraine. We have all watched in horror as mile long columns of tanks roll into his nation ready to take it all like they did with the Crimean Peninsula back in 2014. When this all kicked off we, along with Vladimir Putin, assumed it would be over in days. With a mixture of incompetence on the Russian side, and a steel resoluteness from the Ukrainian side, the invasion continues at the time of writing. The capital, uncomfortably close to the Russian side of the border is slowly being surrounded by sheer brute force.
The play appears to be to take the capital and from there set up a puppet government after Zelensky is out of the picture. “According to the information we have, the enemy has marked me as target No. 1, my family as target No. 2,” he told Ukrainian. “They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state.”
When offered asylum from the attack Zelensky responded “The fight is here. I need ammo, not a ride.”
This was at the same meeting he told EU leaders “this might be the last time you see me alive”, and nobody doubted that sentence.
So what should we take away from this? That bravely sacrificing yourself can achieve success? No.
According to BBC journalist Benjamin Ramm, during his inaugural address in 2019, Zelensky told lawmakers:
“I do not want my picture in your offices: the President is not an icon, an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead, and look at them each time you are making a decision.”
We should make decisions for those that come after us, our decisions have lasting consequences, and long after we’re gone, our kids are going to have to deal with the repercussions of those actions. When you come home at the end of the day, make sure it’s with a clear consentience and ask yourself whether your kids would be proud of the decisions you’ve made.
So rather than idolising some business tycoon or even Zelensky, get a photo of your kids and put it on your desk if you haven’t already.
“The world doesn’t believe in Russia’s future, doesn’t talk about it.” Zelensky “They talk about us, they are helping us, they are ready to support our recovery after the war.” “Because for a nation, defending itself so heroically, there will most certainly be a future.”
“We will not give up and we will not lose.”