Lead with the best version of yourself.

Negative Capability: The One Skill Military Leaders Need

Photo Courtesy of Lucasfilm

By Joe Byerly

In the early 1970s, a young George Lucas had an idea to create a movie the likes of which no one had seen (or experienced) before. It would be a mix of science fiction and mythology. But there were problems. No one had tried to do anything like this before. The special effects technology didn’t exist, and the filming technique he wanted for the dog fight scenes was still only a theory. 

One of the biggest challenges Lucas faced was people questioning his sanity. 
As Brian Jay Jones highlighted in George Lucas: A Life, many of those close to him didn’t think he was taking on the right project. “His friends,” wrote Jones, “saw it as a juvenile exercise unworthy of his talent.” His wife even thought what he was doing was beneath him and wouldn’t work. They thought he should do Apocalypse Now, not some kid’s movie about a war in space. 

The self-doubt ate away at him. At one point Lucas sank into a bit of a depression. He started to question his own sanity, his choice of creative projects, and his talent.

Could he keep going? Could he pull this off?  

It’s easy for us to look back now and say that Lucas had a billion-dollar franchise on his hands, but at the time, conventional wisdom said something different. 

What would you have done in Lucas’s shoes?

The Man in the Stands

By Joe Byerly

It’s the critic who counts; the man who points out when we stumble, or where we could have done better. It’s the one in the stands, who’s well above the dusty floor with a beer in one hand and a warm hot dog in the other, not having to worry about coming up short again and again, because they remain seated, safely in the anonymity of the crowd. The man in the stands plays it safe. They know no great enthusiasms, no great devotions, no worthy causes. No, they’ve never dared greatly so they are strangers to both victory and defeat.

Resistance wants us to remain as the Man in the Stands because when we answer the Call and embark on the Hero’s Journey, we step onto the Arena floor, and all bets are off. 

Wesley Schultz stepped into the Arena in grade school when he wrote poems in his spiral notebook. As he got older, he taught himself to play the guitar. By the time he graduated high school, he had written and recorded his own songs on a CD that he gave his dad for Christmas. 

While others went to college and found normal 9-5 jobs, Wesley continued to practice. He continued to refine his musical ability. He worked whatever crappy jobs he could find to make ends meet. 

You would think that friends and family would have cheered him on and told him to keep going, but they didn’t. Resistance doesn’t work that way. It uses other people to hold us back. They told him to grow up, to take life seriously, to get a real career. 

Wesley refused to walk on the well-worn path. He created his own. He answered his Call, and he stayed the course even as Resistance, sitting high above the Arena floor, questioned his choices.

At some point in our lives, most of us set aside our gifts to do what the world wants us to do. We focus on school or our jobs and follow preset career paths. 

Recognize that this is a choice, and that you can choose the path less traveled if you so desire.

Even after you answer the Call, understand that it will be difficult. Resistance will use the Man in the Stands to scare you into submission. There will be people in your life who don’t see what you are trying to do. Yes, they love you. Yes, they think they are looking out for your best interests. However, they won’t understand your Call no matter how crystal clear it is to you, because it’s not theirs to understand. 

Wesley says there were moments when it hurt and he felt misunderstood by friends and family. He didn’t see the crappy jobs and struggles as a dead end. He saw what they didn’t. He understood what they didn’t. The struggles he faced were the material for his Calling. He was on his path. 

People will question your ability to change. They will encourage you not to risk it. They will warn you that you will fail. 

Do not look up from the Arena floor.

Do not give in. 

Do not try to explain yourself. 

Do not waste time crafting clever responses to naysayers in your social media feeds. 

The only thing you can do is keep going and putting in the work.