November 11, 2014

Some Rules On Being A Good King

I am currently reading The Well of Ascension: Book Two of Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson (I am really liking this trilogy so far, if anyone's interested in fantasy). In it, one of the main characters has to learn to become a king, and his newly, self-appointed trainer tells him the following*:

"Don't apologize unless you really mean it. And don't make excuses. You don't need them. A leader is often judged by how well he bears responsibility. As king, everything that happens in your kingdom--regardless of who commits the act--is your fault. You are even responsible for unavoidable events such as earthquakes or storms. Or armies. It is your responsibility to deal with these things, and if something goes wrong, it is your fault. You simply have to accept this. Guilt [however] does not become a king. You have to stop feeling sorry for yourself. You have to feel confident that your actions are the best. You have to know that no matter how bad things get, they would be worse without you. When disaster occurs, you take responsibility, but you don't wallow or mope. You aren't allowed that luxury; guilt is for lesser men. You simple need to do what is expected. [That is,] to make everything better. [And if you fail,] then you accept responsibility, and make everything better on the second try. [And if you can't make yourself better on the second try,] you remove yourself from the position."

Though this is coming straight out of a fantasy book, a genre deemed by many not serious, I still think this is actually very good advice. I wish more politicians, not just kings, would follow this advice. Unfortunately, I feel that in our day and age, scapegoating and refusing responsibility is too common a currency.

Any thoughts on that?

*the words are taken verbatim from the book, but I've removed the whole back-and-forth going on between Elend, the newly-minted king, and Tindwyl, his trainer, for ease of reading.

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