Infinite Regression

regressionSuppose you want to travel from point A to point B. Well, between point A and point B there is a halfway point, and you’re going to have to get there first. Then, from that halfway point to point B is another halfway point, and you’re going to have to get there first too. And then, there is yet another halfway point between the last halfway point and point B, and you’re going to have to go there first again. And so on, and so on….. You will never get to Point B because you always have to go halfway first. It’s an infinite regression.

In my last article, I criticized the concept of the Visionary Leader a bit. Visionary leaders are definitely needed to get things started. Somebody has to have the passion and the drive to move and motivate others. But, once things are underway, a Man of Action needs to come in and take over.

Another problem I have with visionary leaders is they often inspire other visionary leaders, but not men of action. And visionary leaders inspiring visionary leaders inspiring visionary leaders is an infinite regression where nothing substantial ever gets built.

How many movements die when the visionary leader dies because no man of action is there to build the structure needed for lasting existence?


Visionary Leaders Vs. Masters

A visionary leader focuses much on vision, mission, and passion. He wants to be an inspiration to his potential followers. He is big on teams and for the members of those teams to buy in heavily to his vision. For this reason he creates as many opportunities as he can to impart his vision to the team members. Team members are encouraged to lead themselves, and change themselves as needed to be effective team members. Those team members who do not sufficiently buy in to the vision become pariahs.

Aside from evoking passion in potential followers, the visionary leader does not have much to offer. He does not necessarily know the solutions to the problems his followers will face. Nor does he necessarily have access to the resources his followers will need. Rather, he encourages his followers to deal with those issues themselves.

As so much depends on the visionary leader’s public image for his success, those followers who are best at making him look good will be the followers most celebrated and promoted.

bsmithA master, however, does not concern himself too much with vision, or at least not in the same way as the visionary leader. He is on a mission, and he is passionate, but in order for him to lead, he doesn’t require his followers to focus so much on who he is or why he’s there. A master knows what needs to be done, he knows how to get it done, and he has access to all the resources needed to get it done. He knows all the problems his followers will face before they themselves ever encounter those problems, and he is there to provide teaching and guidance.

A master requires hard work and excellence from his followers. Those who do that will be promoted and celebrated. Those who do not become the pariahs. The motivation for the followers is not passion inspired by the leader, but rather passion inspired by the work itself, excellence, and an ever increasing growth in knowledge.

I suppose a good leader will have both a visionary side to him and a master side. But, from my experience, most leaders lean heavily towards one, depending on what field they’re working in. Visionary leaders tend to be found in the business world, or in Christian growth movements, whereas masters are found mainly in the trades. But there is no reason the master has to stay there.

Personally, I prefer to follow a master, and am trying to become one myself.

Related reading…

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Shop Class as Soulcraft


The Forge


When blacksmithing, you can either work with a charcoal forge or gas forge. Both have their pros and cons.

The charcoal (or coke) forge is more traditional. You can get the steel hotter and you can be more selective in what parts of the work piece you heat up over the gas forge as there is more space to move the piece around. If you want to do any forge welding, the charcoal forge is usually the better choice. The charcoal forge is also messy to use and requires more maintenance.

The gas forge is clean and easy to fire up. Propane is usually not too expensive (depending on where you live of course), and a well made gas forge will be quite fuel efficient. A well built gas forge can get up to welding temperatures, but if one is using flux, measures must be taken to protect the lining of the forge. The opening of a gas forge, depending on how it’s built, can be restrictive on the size of work pieces that can be heated.

I personally use a two burner gas forge. I do have a charcoal forge, but most often the gas forge is more than sufficient for what I’m doing and it is quicker and more efficient than a charcoal forge.

Black Bear Forge is one of my favourite Youtube channels. Here they discuss the pros and cons of the two different forges…

The Anvil

I’ve recently gotten into blacksmithing. A couple of years ago I got into welding. Both these are an amateur interest for me. Working with metal is not only a practical skill to have, but can also be an artistic outlet as well.

The three essential tools of the blacksmith are the anvil, the forge, and the hammer. Here I will write a bit about the anvil. I’ll write more about the forge in another post.

Anvils are difficult to find no matter where you live, but they are especially difficult to find where I live, which is Cambodia. At first I just used a big chunk of cylindrical steel as an anvil, and that works if it’s all that’s available. A large sledge hammer will work as an anvil also. I searched high and low on the internet to find an anvil. It’s actually not that hard to find one online, and there are places in the USA that sell new anvils for reasonable prices. But in Cambodia? No.

But, I did eventually find one. An old Cambodian man had one and wanted to sell. I wasn’t available to see it before buying, but my father-in-law went and picked it up for me, and I just had to trust his judgment on it. When it was delivered to me it was covered in rust, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover after removing the rust that I had acquired a decades old Peddinghaus anvil.

Peddinghaus is a German company founded in 1903. They are known for making some of the highest quality anvils in the world. The particular stamp on my anvil shows that it was made some time before 1930. It is possibly 100 years old. The old man I bought it from had it for the last 39 years. He acquired it shortly after the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia thus toppling the Khmer Rouge government. Somehow the anvil ended up in a ditch on the side of the road at the time, and the old man found it. Who knows who owned it in the decades prior to that or how it came to Cambodia in the first place.

The anvil is 110 pounds, and while the face is perfectly smooth, it is curved inward a small bit from many years of use. Regardless, it still has many more years of use in the decades to come.

anvil four