“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” – Morpheus in The Matrix (1999)
I’m often frustrated by what so many people call “leadership”. Anything that sets someone above the crowd is often viewed as leadership. Business leadership is frequently measured by fiscal results, alone and non-profit leadership is regularly viewed through a lens of “the ends justify the means”. As a result, how individuals lead their people is overlooked for the perception of results. Real people leadership requires service to the people, not just distinction from the crowd.
Sadly, much of the world is does not understand what real leadership is. I liken it to the red pill vs. blue pill decision for leaders. In the 1999 movie The Matrix, Morpheus offers Neo a choice of a blue pill or a red pill:
If Neo chooses the blue pill, he will continue believing whatever he wants, living in a dream land until the system comes crashing down or kills him. He’ll never see what reality is. He would not touch, taste or feel anything real – it’s all artificial, but desirable. In contrast, he could take the red pill and discover reality.
The red pill and the reality it presents is not as nice and neat as the blue pill and an artificial world. Facing reality means harder work, more mess and a more difficult existence. Yet it is reality, it is genuine. With the red pill he has the opportunity to effect real change, serve others and leave the world a better place.
Leaders must make a similar choice: take the blue pill and go along with common misconception or the red pill and commit to real leadership. For great leaders, the choice is clear. Take the red pill. Fight the battle. Stand up against traditional, outdated and inaccurate perspectives. I choose to take the red pill and hope you’ll join us on the journey down our servant leadership rabbit hole.
Question: Which pill do you take? Blue or Red and why?