To paraphrase Mark Twain, reality tv is to actual reality as the lightning bug is to actual lightning.

To paraphrase that paraphrase, mere celebrity in our day and age is to real leadership as reality tv is to actual reality.

To paraphrase that second paraphrase, a reality tv audience is to the citizenry of a healthy democracy as a mere celebrity is to a real leader.

To echo my favorite scholars of leadership behavior in the modern world, the two defining dimensions of effective leadership are truth and love. The truth dimension is about reality and it includes the recognition that two plus two will always equal four and that collaboration is ultimately more productive than amoral cutthroat competition. The love dimension is about compassion and it starts with the recognition that we human beings are all – repeat all – in the same boat.

Our core values at Our Better Angels are courage, compassion, continuous learning, community service, and fun. We fight strenuously against fear, anger, ignorance, and greed. We understand that meekness is not weakness and we realize that the meek have already inherited the earth, even if that news has not been announced on talk radio or Fox News.

We also believe that we are living in a raging cultural storm before the next era of stability and calm, and that we need effective, truthful, compassionate leaders to steer the boat we’re all in toward safe harbor. Finally, we believe that our four core values will only prevail if we remain committed to another contingent value: perseverance.