A Man Without A Title

A recent bullying incident in the Philippines caused outrage within the community when Philip Morris executive Robert Blair Carabuena was caught insulting and assaulting Metro Manila Development Authority traffic enforcer in a video that went viral.

Carabuena is currently suspended from work and is due to appear in court. It has been reported that he was heard saying, “How dare this MMDA guys stop me and touch my car! Doesn’t he know who I am?”

This display of arrogance is not new in the community as it seems that the culture holds on to fame, money, titles and a “who I know” mentality – a concerning behaviour that requires radical shift of mindset to encourage a fair and peaceful society.

It has become a norm in the Philippine political scene for some influential candidates to run for office to acquire more/further power, money, privileges and fame increasing the chance of voting someone whose heart is in the wrong place. Instead on committing to serving the people and the country these “aspirants” help themselves first, their friends and families. As a consequence we are slow in rebuilding the slumped economy and engaging the population.

Ever since our minds were still young, we have been challenged constantly to excel in what we do. In our quest to excellence, to please our parents or perhaps to gain the respect of our peers, we develop a competitive character within.

Rivalries and alliances are formed at home, school, work and amongst “barkadas” producing false friendships, questionable mentors, shallow expectations or obsession on trivial dreams. Self-worth may be compromised as we focus on matters based on and valued by perception. I share Norman Vincent Peale’s view quoting “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

Just over 10 years ago, on my Uncle’s visit to Australia, we requested a copy of all Filipino organisations in Australia from Canberra. We were quite surprised to find out that there were almost 100 organisations but were not clear about their individual functions. We took it as a sign that we have an active participation in our communities in Sydney and Melbourne.

I am a freshman in the Filipino-Australian community but in the last two years I have formed my own opinions based on my observations. I know that disagreements can arise when principles are in question but sometimes I see organisations are formed because it no longer serve the leader’s interests. Which makes me think, which was the priority in the first place – was the reason one is a member of the organization about the team or was it about the member the whole time? Is this how leadership is defined?

I have been in a  management position for more than a decade and in my leadership trainings, I have asked the participants what are the qualities they are looking for in a leader. The majority comes up with adjectives such as honesty, integrity, strong, dedicated, passionate, fair, courageous and decisive. During my studies, we also conducted further surveys to support a management thesis and extracted a similar result. Clearly, the mass prefer a leader with character rather than the smart, good-looking or popular one – unless perhaps when you’re conducting a popularity contest in high school.

Leading with titles is part of the old tradition. I respect how the titles had been earned and their journey to get to where they are. But in this modern society where the world is being reinvented, every one can be a leader. As Robin Sharma wrote it “leadership is no longer about position – but passion. It’s no longer about image but impact.”

If you think about it, there are a few small groups/leaders who have been floating around for years and that’s all they are doing – “floating”… parading their flags but have not accomplished a lot of outcomes. As a matter of fact, most projects would be to raise the profile of their teams. Which prompts me to ask, “aren’t true leaders supposed to drive productivity and unity?”

Jesus is the most popular leader I know. The Son of God who own Heaven and Earth, He was physically born in poverty, He leads His people by promoting humility, love, hope and understanding. He can destroy an army but gives people a choice to be saved in His name and yet, He doesn’t decorate Himself with medals nor expensive clothes instead He walks with His people on foot calling Himself merely “Jesus of Nazareth”. Without force or popularity votes, He was followed by His disciples, some punished for their faith.  He creates a break-though in our lives no one ever had.

In saying that, it is never wrong to thrive on something as long as it will improve our character, promote our growth or to lift our confidence. Life is meant to be for learning about the world around us, mostly about ourselves. Who we really are and what we stand for. Title is not everything. Sharma also quoted “Who you are becoming is more important than what you are accumulating”.

I guess what I am trying to say here is, without all the titles, do you know who you are?


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