I hope you can bear to hear a few more scintillating words from the pen of Dr Watson?
Sherlock Holmes describes his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, as:
“A man …so immune from criticism…so admirable in his management and self-effacement, that for those very words that you have uttered he could hale you to a court and emerge with your year’s pension as a solatium for his wounded character.“
A solatium being, according to Lexico:
–something given in compensation for inconvenience, loss, injury, or the like; recompense
–damages awarded to a plaintiff as compensation for personal suffering or grief arising from an injury
Today we’d call this a settlement. Holmes was reminding Watson that, though Moriarty was secretly involved in shady deals, he had very cleverly erased himself from the scenes. He’d kept his hands so clean that to call him a criminal would be considered slander.
This is an antique concept, something almost anathema to our modern world. In our day self-promotion is the only way to go. From young on, children are encouraged to be the BEST, to be the STAR. When they get into later teens and discover they are AVERAGE, this can be hard to take.
Children should be encouraged to do their best and to pursue their dreams, but there are only so many super-stars you can have in a scene before they start shoving each other off-stage. One man watched a teen take dozens of selfies in an hour, probably to send to friends who’ve got dozens of selfies of themselves to send back. And yet teens may question if they have any real friends.
A friend told me about taking her daughter to visit her mom one evening. In the course of the visit Grandma pulled out her photos.
Here’s a picture of me shopping.
Here’s a picture of me in the coat I tried on.
Here’s a picture of me going here.
Here’s a picture of me on my birthday.
Here’s a picture of me with my friend Jane.
Here’s a picture of me…”
After they left, the granddaughter said to her mom, “Grandma’s really into herself.”
Sadly, this is true. Predictably, Grandma’s puzzled because her children and grands aren’t all into her, too. “I’m their mother. They should be calling me!”
But they don’t feel the heart-strings pulling. What goes around comes around.
A few days ago my husband and I were discussing leadership qualities. There are bold, self-confident, self-promoting types, but we agreed that leaders who get the most respect and help are the ones willing to ask for help, to give credit where credit is due, to squash the “I” and let their group get the praise. To say, “Everybody pitched in and our team accomplished this.”
Professor Moriarty may have sinister reasons for stepping back and letting others get the credit–or blame?–but self-effacement can be one of the tools of a good leader, don’t you think?