The Man in the Arena

As an introvert, being a passive observer is my comfort zone. I examine, process, and then - maybe - speak up. As an aspiring leader, this can be a problematic pattern.


In the 2013 book Capital, Thomas Piketty explores the history of wealth and how inequality has grown over the last century. As expected, Piketty uses most of the book to present his thorough economic research before concluding with several recommendations on how to address financial inequality in the coming decades. Yet, what I found most intriguing was his final note, in which he puts forth a bold criticism of his own peers in academia.

The author breaks from his formal structure to voice his point of view in a jarring fashion. Piketty chastises his economic colleagues for sheltering themselves in complex concepts that are inaccessible to the public and unlikely to improve everyday life for society. Rather than lay the blame on government, business, or other sectors, he holds his own field accountable - imploring them to get involved with discussions that matter in driving society forward.

Leaders, across all fields, inherently have a platform. Some have argued that they ought to “stay in their lane,” sticking to their work. Increasingly, I respect leaders who also give voice to tough topics that will move society forward. “Stay in your lane” allows people to separate the tough issues from the humans that those issues affect. Each leader can choose to use (or not use) their platform how they wish - by donating quietly to causes, voting, respectfully taking a knee, or using social media to give a voice to their community. Taking a stand, respectfully and in your own way, moves us forward.

Personally, I am spending time reflecting on divisive topics, trying to figure out:

  1. the beliefs that I need to represent as I become a leader, and

  2. the simple but difficult act of taking a stand at the right times in the right way.