Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rose or Cabbage?

Listening to talk radio yesterday, a caller, reflecting on the presidential election, rolled out the following quip:

It appears that we decided that, since a rose smells better than a head of cabbage, we figured it would make better soup.

I assumed that such homespun wisdom must have been derived from a popular colloquialism… but a Google search reveals no such saying, so I can only assume that this was original with the caller.

So… what is better? A rose or a head of cabbage? It all depends on the end sought, doesn’t it? If you’re heading to a dance, the rose will likely be more useful. If you’re heading to the kitchen to make dinner, the cabbage will provide more nourishment.

I’m more of a cabbage guy than a rose guy. I tend to overemphasize the substance of things and underestimate the importance of the sensory appeal. When I cast my vote, I focused almost entirely on ideas and ideology; it appears that a lot of people focused more on charisma and appeal.

I suppose that we need both. Not only for the leadership of our country, but for leadership in general.

One good question is which comes first? Is one more important than the other? Is one more easily acquired, or learned, than the other?

If you are a cabbage, can you hire or acquire rose-ness? If you are a rose, can you lead the cabbages?

I think the answer is yes. Leaders need to be keenly aware of both style and substance, and be vigilant to address their own shortcomings in these areas and the weaknesses in the organizations that they lead.


Don Detrick said...

Great thought, Dan. If leadership is best defined as influence, then the rose has definitely appealed to a lot of people in this election. But roses fade, and a preserved rose is only a fa├žade for something that was once vibrant and well, smelled like a rose. In order for positive influence to continue, there has to be cabbage like substance and enough integrity and character to keep the cabbage from smelling too much like sauerkraut. Otherwise, those who savored the rose will soon throw out the cabbage. My prayer is that he is up to the challenge!

Utzy said...

Thanks for your honest and balanced post. I happen to think that there are "cabbage" and "rose" elements of both of the party's platforms that should be celebrated for what they are. However, while there may be a discrepancy between us about whom we voted for, I absolutely appreciate your gentle and unbiased treatment of that comment. Thanks, Dan!