Quora Saturday: Not great leaders, cutting out sugar, too much TV, and born leaders

October 1, 2016 by Joshua
in Quora

Continuing my Saturday series on posting my answers to questions from Quora, here are my next questions answered:


Q: Are some people just born leaders?

A: No one is born leading. Everyone has to learn some skills. Even if people have traits that lend themselves to leading, some skills that would help in some areas wouldn’t help in others. For example, say George Patton was born to be a great military general. If he happened to live in a peaceful time, he might never have become the leader he did.

Here’s an alternative perspective:

Leadership requires skills that you can learn if you overcome the right challenges. Some people’s lives happened to challenge them in ways that developed their skills to become great leaders. They would appear to be born leaders.

Say others never got certain challenges and never learned what others did overcoming them. Or they faced challenges too big for them at the time and decided they couldn’t handle leadership. Then they would not become leaders, even if they could have had the challenges come in different orders and timing.

I’m inclined to believe this alternative perspective since leaders always talk about where they learned skills and perspectives. If so, then no, people aren’t just born leaders. They grow into leadership through their experiences. Also if so, then you can improve your leadership skills by taking on challenges like they did.

As a leadership teacher and coach, I’ve seen everyone I’ve worked with improve. If everyone can improve, everyone can improve more, which means you can improve. You can’t do anything about your birth, but you can keep developing yourself as a leader as much as you want.

I’ve simplified, but I hope the gist is still clear.


Q: Would it be too over the top to write a letter to my son’s daycare because they watch too much TV and I feel it is excessive (more than 2 hours)?

A: Sounds appropriate to me, but the bigger question is not if you should communicate, but how.

I would answer your question not if it’s “over the top,” but by how well you understand your goal.

What is your goal? To vent, to change their practice, to learn their motivation, etc?

I suggest guiding your strategy based on your goal. If you’re not clear on it, I would figure it out first. If you don’t know why you’re communicating with them, you’re less likely to reach an outcome you like. If you know, you have a better chance.


Q: What happens in my body if I totally cut sugar from my diet?

A: It depends on

  • What you mean by sugar (only refined sugar that you add yourself, foods with lots of refined sugar added by a manufacturer, foods with naturally occurring sugars, etc)
  • How much sugar you eat now
  • What you replace it with

If you only cut out refined sugar that you add yourself and that’s only a teaspoon per day in a cup of coffee and you replace it with extra cream, you won’t see much difference.

If you cut out all foods with simple sugar and whose fiber has been removed (like white flour, corn syrup, etc) and replace it with fresh vegetables, fruit, and legumes but not extra oils and fat, or simply lower your calories, you’ll

  • Lose weight
  • Sense nuances of taste better so you’ll probably enjoy food more

If you drank a lot of soda and fruit juice and ate a lot of refined grains, corn syrup, and so on, you could lose weight faster than most other ways. If you already eat mostly fresh vegetables, fruit, and legumes, you won’t see much change.


Q: What are the best events for leadership?

A: The best events for leadership are ones that you organize, since they give you experience. Experience teaches leadership best.

Before organizing, thinking about what type of event to organize forces you to consider your goals, community, and values.

Also, by organizing, you interact with people with related goals, communities, values, and so on, so you build relationships and community.


Q: Who according to you is considered a great and kind leader as per history but was actually the opposite?

A: [it looks like they changed the wording of the question since I answered it]

You ask “according to you” and I have no first-hand knowledge, but I’ve heard strong criticism of Mother Theresa in India that say she was often cruel.

The Wikipedia page, Criticism of Mother Teresa, summarizes some criticism and links to articles, documentaries, and other literature.

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