I really want to add a piece of what I think Level 5 is all about by drawing on a historical analogy that helps me understand the essence of what Level 5 is. I would like you to picture Abraham Lincoln, sitting there at 1:30 in the morning in October 1862, getting the battle reports from Antietam. Seven thousand Americans, North and South, dying in utterly horrific ways, bodies ripped apart with cannon shot.
Lincoln is getting these battle reports, and he knows that if he continues to persist in this quest that the nation must endure—which is what he was ambitious for by that stage of his life—if he persists in that, there will be more battle reports. Of course, we now know in retrospect that Antietam, while having been the largest single casualty day in American history to that point, was small compared to what came later. And Lincoln knows that if he persists, tens or hundreds of thousands of more American lives will go away. People will die. All he has to do to save all those lives is let the South go. That’s all he has to do.
And he doesn’t flinch. If six hundred thousand people had to die so that the nation would live, then six hundred thousand people, including Lincoln himself, would die, so the nation could live. When I try to understand the extreme version of Level 5, it’s Lincoln getting the battle report from Antietam and he doesn’t flinch.