You can’t learn to be number one by becoming number two

I had a very inspiring discussion with one of my superiors few weeks ago, and we discussed about leadership and succession. In that discussion, we talked about how many people try to become someone they idolized by becoming a shadow to that person and following whatever that idolized personality do.

The expression we used in that discussion was, to be number one by becoming number two.

Number one, is the one who inspire the existence of the collective. The number one is the leader of the pack. He or she does not only  lead the group on whatever they do, but also determine how the right thing to do is differentiated from the wrong one. It is also the number one whose absence will put the collective into risk of disintegration, or even worse, oblivion.

Number two, on the other end, is the skilled complimentary of the number one. While she or he are often time very skillful and reliable, number two are lack of inspiration by him/herself.  Often times, number two is either a devoted fan or an ambitious candidate with ‘will-do-anything-to-become-the-heir’ attitude. While the devoted fan is a personality lack of intention for replacing number one due to his or her naive devotion, the ambitious candidate is  more complex with his or her own self-contradiction. The ambitious candidate type of number two tries to distance him or herself from the number one, while keep imitating number one to compete on exposure and to prove equal ability, and yet, have no genuine inspiration on his/her own.

Number two can have a lot of good things that makes him or her special and stand out in the crowd, but always lacking on one thing. One thing that only a number one possess: A genuine and passionate energy to inspire others.

That energy, can only be exist if it is genuinely from the person, driven by his or her personal values. It also can be seen through a strong self-conviction a number one has in each of his action and decision. Everyone can sense that energy through the tenacity a number one in daily life.

And, it is not something you can learn by becoming number two. You can learn all kinds of skill and tactics by becoming number two, but you will not get the soul of a number one. It is not something you can copy from others. It can’t be transferred through training or readings. While those things may help to evoke the energy, the soul of a number one is an energy emerged from within the person, emanates through passionate action and self conviction.

by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

There is no model to be a number one. If there is, then it is not number one, but number two. A number one spark his or her energy by itself. A number one starts, not follow. A number one sparks his or her light to illuminate others, not the other way around.

You can’t learn to be number one by becoming a number two. You have to crack yourself, find your soul and practice to be a number one.


6 thoughts on “You can’t learn to be number one by becoming number two

  1. There a lot of different values. Each wants to be the guiding principles of human life. Hitler also has values, even destructive one. I think, we need more exact about our values in term of political leadership, not just merely number one, or number two. What do you think James?

    1. Yes, Reza. In this post, I just want to highlight that leadership is a process, despite which direction it leads to. Leadership is not automatically good or bad. The values invested in it is a differecent story. In any case, effective leadership only created best by number one. In Orde Baru era, we have so many ‘number two’ with good values, but the fact is Pak Harto’s values as the ‘number one’ affect most of the nation as we know it 🙂

      You can have a set of great values, but if it is only represented by a group of ‘number two’, one ‘number one’ with a simple bad values can wipe them all 🙂

  2. Very interesting, Pak James. How do you do.. 🙂
    So…what we can learn then if we already have a passion (ad courage) to be the number one, let’s begin to seek for the opportunity to be come the “number one”, right? Can’t just wait from organization structure change. and the other side it will challenge us to be more “pro active” as one of the basic attitude that a typical “number one” person must have.

    1. Thanks, Pak Rudi! Glad to meet you here!! 🙂 How’s life there? Hope you still share the light to others 🙂
      Yes, you are correct Pak. The number one meant to be the ‘number one’. A real ‘number one’ will naturally seek ‘a fertile soil’ where he or she can really actualizing his/her passion. If the current organization he/she is in can’t provide that, then another way will open naturally. Another place with ‘a fertile soil’ will call that ‘number one’, and he or she just have to catch that call. It is like a lock-and-key mechanism in enzymatic interaction. A ‘number one’ will attract opportunity, because a ‘number one’ emanates lights to the surrounding, not seeking light from others 🙂 You know that feeling, right?

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