Yes, But If You Light It Will It Fly?

Vantage Points Header Joel Elveson

A Lesson Of Leadership

IF YOU ARE WONDERING what the article title question has to do with leadership my response to you would be it has everything to do with leadership. Only a true leader with strength of character and all that other good stuff would dare to ask this question let alone expect any semblance of a logical answer especially in light of the fact this question has no answer. A weak-kneed follower would never in a million years ask this question.

Growing up my friends and I were the furthest thing from being leaders but the one thing we were not and that was followers. Needing something to keep our “detractors” at bay we came up with the million dollar question which was “yes, but if you light it will it fly?” This proved us to be leaders of a group whom, based on the above were judged to be too weird to associate with. On the plus side, we were left to be ourselves which included by the way almost exclusive use of the outdoor basketball hoops.

When crises come as they will wouldn’t you want to put your trust in leaders who can think so far out of the box and come up with solutions nobody else could?”

For instance, now that all the snow has melted what can the New York City Sanitation Department do now as they have seemingly forgotten how to pick up recycling. With our two ballyhooed leaders no longer hunkered down in their command centers and having returned the snazzy emergency jackets they had rented for the occasion what is left for them to do?

For an encore they could put resources into finding the subway slasher, look for remnants of snow that they can pile on a corner somewhere or perhaps push this blackened mixture of snow, pollution, and litter and push it into the middle of the road thereby creating hazardous driving conditions that did not exist prior to the masochist snow plows. That my friend is leadership worth looking at with both eyes wide shut. Yes, but if you light it will it fly?

So here I am trying to push off a nonsensical sounding statement/question as an accurate portrayal of leadership on you. Truth be told real leadership requires being able to think on your feet or standing on one leg with your arms behind your back. If it were me having witnessed the above in conjunction with the marvelously mysterious question I would consider that person to be a genuine cut and dried leader.

Real leaders are supposed to be deep thinkers who use their oratory and writing skills to finely tune their ability. It also helps if there are people out there who think you have supernatural power or instincts that will attract them to you. Afterall (now quickly tell me if the first word of this sentence is one word or two words and why it is so) with no followers to stick to you like flies to sticky paper there would be no need (practically no need) for a leader. Sorry!

The liturgy of the leader is such he needs to show he stands out from the crowd via the creation of an awe of being a sincere authentic strategically oriented thinker whose cool calm outward appearance compliments the fire of his sense of allegiance to his masses. If anybody out there can find meaning in my last statement or figure out what I was babbling about please contact me as I am totally clueless about what I just wrote. It takes a heavy dose of humbleness interspersed with some insecurity to effectively lead.

Yes, but if you light it will it fly in the lexicons of leadership easily translates (if you think about it) into catch phrases such as strategic crises management capability. One phrase leaves you scratching your head (or scratch elsewhere on your body if you should so choose) while the other sounds very leader like even though the second statement means nothing as well.

AccuWeather (that is a legitimate weather forecasting agency whose first and last name is put together to form one word with both first letters being correctly capitalized) is predicting “a little morning snow” for Friday morning here in New York. Now the question becomes do our dynamic duo of Governor and Mayor take this forecast verbatim or have a just in case scenario in place? My guess is that they will see what happens before deciding if they need to make a decision. Now that’s leadership you can depend on and be rest assured with.

So now that I have spun the phrase (I wish I had a copyright on it) yes, but if you light it will it fly I hope I have successfully given you a new prospective on leadership thinking. Or if I failed to do this at least I gave you a peek into my childhood.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. A very thought-provoking article Joel and one that really got me thinking. Please allow me to share the following from my scrapbook. I think I can attribute it to Michael Rogers
    There are 6 frogs sitting on a lily pad. 1 frog decides to jump off. How many frogs are left?
    Most would say the answer is 5. But, the answer is 6. Why? Because only one decided to jump off.
    There are two leadership parallels that can be drawn from this simple leadership riddle.
    Leaders must not simply decide to do something, they must do it. One quick way to erode leader trust is for the leader to commit to a decision & then do very little about it. If there is no follow up, that leader has not jumped off the lily pad and must hold themselves accountable.
    Hence, if you decide to do something; then jump. If your employees decide to do something; ensure they jump as well.
    The riddle of Leadership is that seeking leadership principles of good leaders doesn’t make you a leader. Connection is strength!

    • Jonathan, I loved the brain teaser even though at 3:25 am I am not sure how much of a functioning brain I have left. On a serious note, your points are very well taken as they are well articulated. Thank you, Jonathan, for the investment of your time.

  2. In our leadership training we mention something we like to call the 5 C’s.


    Things seem to break down when at least one of these C’s is not addressed. Though we find quite often that leaders fail when they do not have the capacity to lead or the capacity to deliver what they envision.

    When leaders “have time” to plan, they plan.

  3. Great post Joel. What you say can not be taught. It is in your DNA to be that way or not. I always wonder why people think they can go to a leadership class and wham they are a leader. Thank you for sharing something dear to my heart.

    • Larry,
      I am happy to read that you enjoyed reading the article and that it touched you. When I wrote the article I was hoping my readers would see the humor in the title. Thank you for your very kind compliment to mention the time you took to read my article. All my best.