The Daily Dick: A Study in Leadership
"For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at the same time that the leaders little suspect it."
The Study: Ishmael introduces his ideas of leadership with an example from a ship, of course. On a ship, the sailors are the ones who take on the head winds. But, to Ishmael, that 'first air' is the freshest air - the purest air. The leaders, sitting in the back taking in the gentler winds, are only getting "second hand" air! And had Ishmael left the idea there, it would have been a fine idea, but he goes on to add that the leaders assume they are getting the better end of the deal when in fact, the "commonality" know the truth. The leaders are taking in air, words, ideas, a view of the world, given to them by the common man. Ishmael appears to be saying that leaders are merely receptors of a second hand world view! You have to be strong enough to take on a head wind with the common man to really understand the way the world works.