The Boundless Leader No. 2: Descartes was almost right

June 10, 2022

Descartes famously said, “Cogito, ergo sum.” In English, “I think therefore I am.”

Great line, but it doesn’t go far enough. It should be “I feel and I think and therefore I am” because typically we feel in this life and then we think. It very seldom goes in the opposite direction. As humans, we are not just thinking animals we are thinking and feeling animals. The interplay between them is what makes us what we are.

Building on this, if I were to come up with a similar millennium-spanning bit of philosophical wisdom about leadership – and I guess about all of life – it would be “I do, therefore I am.”
What you say – as a leader, parent or friend – is important, of course.

But most people are only going to know you and judge you through your actions. As leaders, it’s about those actions every day. I can tell you the quality of a leader by the actions observed by their people on a daily basis. If you are a reliable, consistent person, you will be known as a reliable and consistent leader. If you are inconsistent, fly off the handle emotionally in public or treat people unevenly that is how people will see you and feel about you. It’s pretty simple and it is noticed.

“I do, therefore I am.”

Do any of my fellow classics scholars know know how to compose that in Latin?