Your role as a leader – a leader of yourself, family, business, community – in navigating to a sustainable future requires that you break barriers, not build them or be controlled by the barriers that are liabilities.
“We’ve never done it that way before (Don’t make waves; Go with the flow)”;
“We’ve always done it that way (Your new idea violates our long-established policies)”;
“I already have the answer”;
“I don’t have time for change”;
“I’m not creative” (“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right”, Henry Ford);
“It’s not important (Not my idea! Who cares anyway! It’s too late for that! I’m busy !);
“It’s not my job. That’s not my specialty. Take it to someone who cares.”
“You can’t guarantee that it will work. We tried it years ago, it didn’t then.”;
“Ha! Not as long as I’m alive.”
“Aim so high you’ll never be bored” (United Technologies motto);
“Not failure, but low aim is the crime” (James Russell Lowell);
“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly” (Thomas Paine);
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it” (Alan Kay, Xerox).
Because there is often more than one right answer.
Staying on the same road eventually leads you to a dead-end, or in a circle.
What you think has a way of coming true.
Use it or lose it.
“Most of the time, most things are out of hand” (John Gardner).
“The question is not “Did you fall?”, but “Did you get up and continue?” (James Michener).
Roger von Oech provides us with a practical and easy to follow methodology on breaking barriers to thinking, creativity and innovation in his great book, A Whack on the Side of the Head. He followed up with a method for being even more creative in A Kick In the Seat of the Pants. Both are timeless and are recommended as “required reading” (Learn more about them at Roger’s site, Creative Think, on-line at http://creativethink.com/index.html ). He set for a practical and easy to follow methodology, briefly summarized as follows:
“First: Search for information and identify resources. Don’t overlook the obvious, but also look outside the things you know. Pay attention to the small things, but don’t overlook the big picture.
Next: Transform information and resources into new ideas. Don’t become a prisoner of familiarity; the more often you see or do anything in the same way, the more difficult it is to think about it in a different way.
Then: Evaluate ideas and decide what to do with them. Don’t let your search for the ‘great idea’ blind you to the ‘merely’ good or promising one!
Then: Carry the ideas into actions; move from ‘what if’ to ‘what is’.”
Along with many successful agents of innovation and change, he quotes a few people who have experienced the change in approach (beware what you wish for!):
“I am standing knee deep in kerosene and everybody has a match.” (Michail Gorbachev, 1990)
“Never give up, never give up, never give up.” (Winston Churchill)
ALONG THE WAY
John Gardner, in “On Leadership” (another “must read” – see Bibliography and my Summary Review post), summarizes the key roles of a leader in any culture or organization:
- Envision Goals
- Affirm Values
- Regenerate Values that have Decayed
- Achieve Workable Unity
- Serve as a Symbol
- Represent the Group
- Renew Constantly
SOME PARTING THOUGHTS
If you don’t carry out your ideas, they die. You must persevere.
“On the 8th day of July in the year 1401, the Dean and Chapter of Seville assembled in the Court of Elms and solemnly resolved, “Let us build a church so great that those who come after us may think us mad to have attempted it'”. The church took 150 years to build!
Have confidence in the long future!