Book Excerpt from Lead by Greatness: Three Cultural Lenses

The following is an excerpt from the book Lead by Greatness.

People of different cultures all admire and idealize perfection. They differ only in how they seek it.

In researching what differentiates people, I learned more about what makes them the same than what makes them different. This is particularly so when it comes to their beliefs and values. None of the tens of thousands of people I have met and worked with in over thirty different countries has bad values. I have explored the values of criminals in prison, of illiterate workers in Africa, CEOs and PhDs in the U.S. and Europe, and religious leaders in the Middle East and Asia; they all share the same good values. Each of them would like their children to be honest, upright, contributive members of society, who in turn will raise good families themselves.

Another interesting observation is how so many people of different cultures admire and idealize perfection. But people differ in how they seek and often demand perfection. It is helpful to think of the people you know in one of three different categories. The first category includes those people who look for perfection in objects and structures. The second contains people who believe perfection can be found only in specific ideological models. The third category comprises those who seek perfection in their relationships with others.

Think of people you know who are fanatical about the perfection of objects. They demand perfection in their living environments, their technology, their organizational and engineering structures. They feel insecure if they are not functioning within a clearly defined structure. They like society to be structured and to them social status says more about your position in society than any other criterion such as character, wisdom, or personal stature. Courtesy and the observance of social norms are more critical than the free expression of honest opinion. They expect zero defects in technology, and prefer even people to operate according to predictable rules. They find it hard to operate amid any form of chaos. You might think of these people as structural people. Structural people enjoy structured music and art and associate with people who are part of their social milieu.

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