Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ezio Auditore on Leadership, Ethics, and Philosophy

I'm listening to Iron by Woodkid as inspiration for this post today.  If you aren't aware yet, that's the music playing in the Revelations E3 trailer.  Check it out, a good listen even without the badassitude of Ezio wrecking dozens of templars in front of you.

So while coming up through Assassin's Creed 2, we see Ezio start out as a headstrong and horny young adult, merely seeking vengeance for his family, and evolving into a full-blown assassin at the end of the game, perhaps even the subject of a prophecy.  Throughout Brotherhood, however, we see him move another step further, from merely a cog in the machine to a full-blown leader, mentor, and eventually head of the Assassin order.

But where does this leadership come from?  How does Ezio become a leader of an order when he starts as barely even a reluctant participant?  I'm actually going to refer to a line from one of my favorite webcomics of all time, XKCD.  Specifically this strip.  "But you don't become great by trying to be great.  You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process."  Ezio is a man of action.  When Machiavelli says there's no horses available and merely throws his hands up in the air, Ezio decides to just go ahead and liberate the entire district of Borgia influence single-handedly.

Ezio leads by example in everything he does.  He puts his faith in other people so they put their faith in him.  If he wants something done, he jumps in and gets his hands dirty before he asks anyone else to do it with him.  This decisive action can be inspiring, as long as it's tempered with judgement.  Jumping headfirst into action without consideration can just make you look stupid.  Remember our discussion of chess beforehand, although Ezio seems to just wear his heart on his sleeve, he does so because he has both excellent judgement, and a good awareness of all the situations he's involved in.

On the ethics and philosophy front, we see Ezio in stark contrast to Machiavelli.  Ezio believes in the public, and is optimistic about their response.  Machiavelli is cynical, plans every move painstakingly, and assumes that anything that can go wrong, will.  NEITHER view is either valid or invalid, in fact without Machiavelli's advisement, Ezio would probably go wrong a lot more often than he does.  If I had to guess, Machiavelli would beat Ezio at chess, haha.  But they show two sides of the same coin of leadership.  Are you working on reading through the Prince?  You should be!  In there you'll see the dichotomy of leadership options.  Machiavelli was a brilliant adviser, military mind, and leader in himself.  There is a LOT to learn from both putting out an example for people to follow(Ezio), and assuming that at their base level, people only do things for others if you give them a good reason to, and will otherwise serve only themselves(Machiavelli).

Remember the hallmarks of Ezio's leadership styles.  Decisive action, leading from the front through inspiration, and putting faith in others so that they will put their faith in you.  These are powerful tools if used correctly.  Additional reading I would recommend is the seminal classic, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," by Dale Carnegie.  When you finish reading the Prince, move on to that one to clean any bitter cynic taste out of your mouth.  It's possible the most influential "people skills" book I've ever read.

Remember, by the way, that in this blog we are, in a sense, trying to become great by trying to become great(refer to my previous quote from XKCD if you're confused).  This is a good starting point, but not enough.  I'm trying to help give you the tools to reshape yourself as you see fit.  YOU need to find a reason to do it, and a motivation to go for that reason.  Pick a goal or an interest, and then bust your ass trying to be as good at that goal or interest as you can.

And that's pretty much it for our friend Ezio!  I'm gonna do a links/video grab bag tomorrow for some supporting stuff to finish off our time with Ezio Auditore, as well as a few other cool things I've found on the "Becoming a Video Game Character" front.  Not sure where we're going next week, we're due for a character breakdown soon, current frontrunner is Donkey Kong with one vote, you can change that by leaving a vote in the comments below, or on our Facebook page!

Requiescat in pace, assassins.

Danny "DaRatmastah" Wallace

Ezio Auditore, Assassin's Creed, and all other property therein are © Copyright Ubisoft Entertainment

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