Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

Most ignorance is vincible ignorance:
we don’t know because we don’t want to know.
Aldous Huxley

In all human endeavors there lie risks we don’t want to explore, flaws we’d rather ignore, and conflicts we’d rather avoid. We choose the comfort of deliberate ignorance over the insecurity of uncertain knowledge.

We are all incredibly good at stepping around the things we mustn’t discuss. Irrational actions rule supreme in the face of topics smeared with the taint of taboo.

The solution of course, is to take those lonely and invisible 800 lb gorilla problems and place them in the middle of the table. Shave them naked and paint them a glorious glowing neon pink. Make it so that we’d have to be blind to ignore their presence.

Problems grow stronger in the shade of solitary confinement. They shrivel to a fraction of their size when exposed to those dedicated to finding solutions.

Problems by definition ‘need fixing’… actions that result in conspiracies of deliberate avoidance are counter to intelligence.

From a reluctance to tell a friend they have bad breath, to the corporate wide ‘decision’ to ignore unethical policies… problems gain strength from silence.

The unacknowledged problem is forever unsolvable.


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My greatest strength as a consultant
is to be ignorant
and ask a few questions.
Peter Drucker

If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of, it’s ignorance. We’re surrounded by it. Saturated with it. Ignorance by its nature crowds out reason, commonsense and understanding.

Yet we seem to accept it as normal. We’re apparently willing to live with it. We fail to seize the opportunity to ask these questions which could dispel it:

Why do we do it this way?
Why do we believe this to be true?
Why can’t we change the rules?
Why must we do this at all?

These are the world wrecking questions. These are the queries that challenge, and can shatter, the Status Quo.

They’re also the simple questions available to anyone (with enough courage) in every situation. They raise the specter that things need not be as we’ve accepted them.

Nor is the question ‘Why?’ beyond our scope. It’s perhaps the only strength we share regardless of upbringing or social standing. From our first days of speech we ask ‘Why?’ … and at some point we stop. Why?

We’re born with the urge to ask ‘Why?’, when we lose it, we begin to die.

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Somebody’s got to be the guardian
of the long term.
Marina V. N. Whitman

Nothing just happens, there’s always a cause. There’s little we can do about the bulk of it. Gravity rules landslides, electricity controls the lightning, and Sun and Wind take care of the weather. Mother Nature aside, most of the rest is under our influence, if not our control.

It doesn’t always feel as if we have influence over tomorrow. Our best laid plans routinely get crushed and pushed aside. The flaw lies in how we plan for tomorrow. We create a single plan, and ignore a plan ‘b’, and ‘c’, and ‘d’… We act as if there is only a single tomorrow, rather than a vista of possibilities.

There’s never a single answer to the question ‘What might happen?’ Nor are there even right or wrong answers. Every reasonable answer contains a dollop of doom, a pinch of possibility, and a huge heaping of hope.

To chart a safe course through the bounty of possible tomorrows requires agile plans. Plans which we literally design to suffer failure gracefully. It’s not pessimistic to contemplate failure and avoid it… it’s only pessimistic to accept it.

Our future is by definition, plural, never singular.

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No snowflake in an avalanche
ever feels responsible.
Stanislaw Lec

It is difficult to justify righteous dismay at the loss of panoramic views, when standing behind windows of a mountain home. When we’re part of the scenery, we’re part of the problem.

It is the lifeboat problem writ large. We’re all both cause, and potential solution, to the problems we encounter. When we act as if we’re alone, we’re in conflict with those who act as us.

This is true in the smallest of encounters. When we both argue as if we each have the monopoly on truth, then nothing is achieved save strife. Two rocks never merge, they grind each other down.

Do nothing more than recognize that not only ‘you’, but ‘we’ exist, and solutions present themselves. It’s more than ‘give and take’, it’s an acceptance that your needs are rightfully the same as mine. To be in conflict with you, is to be in conflict with myself.

We’re all part of a global association with many local chapters. We penned no constitution, we have no written rules, we signed no binding contract… but as surely as an honest judge, our deeds decide our consequences

In the frustration of a traffic jam, it’s hypocrisy to ignore the car we’re seated in.

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If you can make a man laugh,
you can make him think
and make him like and believe you.
Alfred E. Smith

Humour is our physical and emotional response to the perverse incongruities of life. Without a sense of humour, we stumble from cosmic incident to comic accident, never seeing the connection. Our belly laughs, are wry detectors.

We laugh at the indignities that befall us, because the alternatives are too depressing.

We chuckle at both the small and large misfortunes ensnaring us, because we have no other choice.

Despite our best laid plans, life sometimes just happens to us. The knack of seeing the hidden irony is a precious gift.

Humour doesn’t come easy. Especially when the humour is in our follies and foibles. To laugh at ourselves is to acknowledge our shared, and all too common, weakness. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who, with the dual, and never dull, scalpels of tact and gentleness expose the humours within.

With every burst of laughter there’s the opportunity to reflect on what we’ve found out.

Our sense of humour is a symptom of our intelligence. Once we laugh, we know enough to pay attention.

When your audience is laughing, they’re listening.

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We cannot unthink
unless we are insane.
Arthur Koestler

Each thought shapes the world. Desire creates action, actions become habit, habits become the way we’ve always done things around here. Through our thoughts we become the world makers.

The sane live in the world the way others have built it. In thinking the same as others, we can walk only the well worn paths. Only by embracing a form of insanity do we acquire the ability to step outside clearly marked boundaries. To ignore those boundaries is to reject past thoughts…

…and in rejecting past thought, we reject in part, community. The creative person, by definition, stands outside the walls of acceptability. To fulfill dreams, explorers must walk away from people. There is no new territory where there is a crowd.

The sane see only what is, and are blind to all that isn’t thought of yet. Beyond the edge of the safe common map, lies naught but dragons until we think up new worlds there to live in. The new and original is always scary, until it becomes the familiar, the comfortable, the mundane.

Let go of reason, break the rules and create a world.

See what others can’t see, think what they haven’t thunk.

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What makes enemies of people,
if not the eagerness,
the passion for the same thing.
Bernard Berenson

We are drawn asunder and pulled together by the things we both hold dear. Peace and security, a land to live upon and to rest in peace beneath, these are our common hopes and dreams.

We’re divided by memories of injustices long past. In sacred remembrance we create new memorials to fuel the future feud of children aged before their time. A plague of amnesia would allow us to start afresh. A divine gift of tabula rasa for those as yet unborn.

Our justice is swift for we live in the land of the fair. We demand an eye for an eye, until we crawl on all fours in the land of the blind.

We rightfully give praise to those who fall in the clash of arms, yet the solutions must lie beyond the battle circle. When we no longer care who lives or dies, then death can no longer threaten the living.

Conflict can reach the point where the solution is either genocide or compromise. Civilized thought enables one and denies the other.

The lands we fight over are more pleasant if stood upon, than lain beneath.

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