"There are five dangerous traits of a general:
He who is reckless can be killed.
He who is cowardly can be captured.
He who is quick tempered can be insulted.
He who is moral can be shamed.
He who is fond of the people can be worried." Sun Tzu
The philosophy of Stoicism is a practical philosophy created by a Greek philosopher by the name of Zeno of Citium. However, it was the works of Musonius, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius -- all Stoics -- that have caught my attention for over 10 years now. To boil it all down, the philosophy asks this simple question whenever someone encounters a situation: "Does this belong to you?"
For example, should one be worried about the weather being bad on his or her wedding day? The great Stoics would say the weather is not under your control so do not worry and bother to wish for it to be sunny. Rather, focus on things you can control, such as holding the wedding and reception indoors.
This view is helpful in that it relieves the responsibility of the weather to where it belongs: the weather gods, not the person being affected by it. Same is true when someone comes down with cancer or experiences a horrible event. Yet many people blame themselves for bad things happening in their lives when they should really be asking themselves does the situation belong to them.
Some people even feel ashamed of the physical looks they were born with, where they were born, who their parents were, or the diseases they endured. Yet are all these things something they chose? If not, then how can they be blamed for them? They are thus set free of such blame.
So if someone were to be born ugly, let's say, the thing they can control is how they behave despite that ugliness or even use humor about it to make others around them feel more comfortable. All of the sudden, what was seemingly a liability is more likely a unique and memorable feature that only that person has. As Musonius said, "You will deserve respect from everyone if you will start by respecting yourself."
Thus the answer to what truly belongs to people is what they can truly control: their reaction and actions to what has happened. That is the only thing that a person has responsibility for and deserve the blame or praise for.
So when a leader is fond of the people, he or she might constantly worry about their well-being. He or she would be deeply saddened if they are hurt. However, there are two kinds of worry. One is worrying by taking actions that prevent possible problems from occurring. The other is worrying by fidgeting and nervously talking about what could happen. The former is what a Stoic would advocate, and the latter is what a Stoic would advise against. In other words, do things you can control and do things that actually help the situation, not only to alleviate how you feel inside.
If you try to do things outside of your control, you will either be ineffective and thus you are wasting the time you should be spending on things you can control or it could backfire on you and make a bad situation worse. Regardless, focusing on things that are uncontrollable is useless at best and can be dangerous at least.
The Stoics believe that how you feel inside is manufactured, not reality. If you get into a car accident and damage the fender, you might feel horrible but is the event itself a horrible situation? That of course depends on who you ask. Some other person wouldn't think a second more about it and move on. Therefore, it would seem the event itself isn't something good or bad but how we perceive it to be.
The worry that Sun Tzu was talking about in the quote is the kind of worry that doesn't help the situation and would hinder it. This is the type of worry that discourages someone from taking action because he or she feels down. He or she is paralyzed mentally due to fear. Time is allowed to pass on by. He or she is essentially at the mercy of the situation and allowing other people involved in it to make it better or worse.
Instead of doing the above, Sun Tzu would advise to take the situation into your own hands. You cannot guarantee that you will achieve the result you are seeking for, but you can guarantee that you would increase the chances of your success in a significant way. If you keep doing this throughout your life, imagine the change in life trajectory and where you would end up as a result of such doggedness, diligence, and perseverance.
If you have gone through all of Sun Tzu's five dangerous traits of a leader with me, you can conclude they hinge upon the extremes, even if it seems like a positive trait, such as being fond of people. Too much of anything is bad, and is unsustainable in all situations even if it was good, resulting in something bad.
Sun Tzu's advice for a leader is when in doubt take the middle road, a balance of not being too much of anything. For example, be neither too critical nor too excited. It doesn't mean that he or she can't choose to be either if the situation warrants such actions, but the key is to be in a position that gives you options to best effect the outcome you want.
You don't want to paint yourself into a corner and lose all trust and respect when you have to break your promise. Setting expectations is very much a part of a leader's job because it could mean the difference between cooperation and division.
There is little wrong with being fond of people. Just don't be so fond of them that you would either chase them away by being too controlling or lose them by not taking action to protect and ensure their best interests.