No Leaders Please – A Poem by Charles Bukowski

No Leaders Please - a poem by Charles Bukowski
This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Poetry and Management

No Leaders Please is a short poem by Charles Bukowski, that talks of change and conformity, and the need always to reinvent yourself as an individual. A powerful message, especially considered into an organisational framework, where people tend to be seen clustered into roles, and not by their individuality.

Poetry has always been one of my favourite forms of expressions, probably one of the eclectic sides of my multipotentialite trait. I have a list of poems that are somewhat linked to the topics I cover more frequently on this blog, so I’ve decided to start listing them here over time. Some are famous; some are less known.

No Leaders Please

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
don’t swim in the same slough.
invent yourself and then reinvent yourself
stay out of the clutches of mediocrity.

invent yourself and then reinvent yourself,
change your tone and shape so often that they can
categorize you.

reinvigorate yourself and
accept what is
but only on the terms that you have invented
and reinvented.

be self-taught.

and reinvent your life because you must;
it is your life and
its history
and the present
belong only to

Charles Bukowski

Source: Charles Bukowski, The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993.

A Short Comment.

No Leaders Please is a true hymn to embrace constant change and transformation. Don’t swim in the same slough is a strong invite by the poet, through a movement of constant reinvention. The goal is to be able to emerge from mediocrity, identified as the alignment to what others can categorize of you. A strong sign, which is not a call to evade normality, but rather to fall into the boredom of being mediocre.

Beside the title, the poem never mentions the term Leadership. But there is an important reference: be self-taught. The idea of learning as a self-directed activity emerges as a paramount necessity, whereby a leader, intended here as a teacher, might not be needed. Freedom of thought is above all an intentional choice of those who learn alone. Because the present belong only to you.

What do you think about this poem? Make sure to add a comment below.

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Cover Photo Source: Poetry Foundation

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