A 38-year old newly elected legislator in Japan is a well-known anti-nuclear supporter and has a reputation in good standing. While attending a reception, he greeted the Emperor with respect and handed him a letter. The letter was quickly handed to an aide. A simple gesture turns this legislator’s story onto a rough path.

After World War II, the role of Emperor in Japan became a ceremonial one only. The Emperor is prevented from taking any political position on any issue. He is “reigning but not ruling.” Beyond this, Japanese ritual frowns on someone soliciting the Emperor in this way.

What unfolds from here is a political controversy and a call for the young legislator’s resignation. The Upper House is considering passing a resolution requesting his resignation immediately. Even in this modern age, his action is viewed with mixed reaction. His support is mixed at best. This is the story of Taro Yamamoto.

The life lessons in this real story may be:

Life Lesson - PurposeDon’t give responsibility to someone who has no responsibility. An issue or initiative needs to be addressed, and we need to involve and engage the people who can really help and who can be held accountable for what is done or undone. Putting something in the hands of a bystander (no matter their title) can put the spotlight on the wrong things and derail our work.

The lesson:  Give responsibility to responsible people.

Good intentions alone may still get you fired. By all accounts, the newly-elected lawmaker’s intentions were good. His goal was to raise awareness for the people and children still displaced by the 2011 tsunami and the subsequently damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. Good intentions are a positive but they still need to be properly applied. Good intentions distracted by inappropriate actions can cause unknowing harm.

The lesson:  Align good intentions with good actions.

Don’t derail purpose over protocol. Society and organizations have certain protocols. Some may be valid and others may be old-fashioned. If your purpose is to disrupt outdated protocols, then your purpose may be aligned properly. If your purpose is something deeper and broader, then ensure you don’t get on the wrong path and disrupt your purpose-filled efforts.

The lesson:  Keep focus on your purpose and real ways to stay on a meaningful path.

This simple story caught my attention. As it developed later in the week, the result was banning Taro Yamamoto from any Imperial family events for the remainder of his term. A reasonable outcome, I believe.

Life and leadership lessons can be found in everyday headlines. From the news, we need to:  Read closely. Think to understand. Reflect to learn.

What life or leadership lesson would you add from this news story?