Leadership: Optimism On the Other Side of Pessimism

This topic came to me today while I was interviewing Dr. Otto Laske for the CPR Design Marathon. If you haven't joined in those free calls yet, you can do so by registering for our CPR Update.
One of the most difficult things for leadership to realize as we begin to awaken out of the sleep we have been in over the past 60 years of human development, is that people have a pre-wired capacity, capability and potential.

One of the first remarks I receive is about pigeon-holing or categorizing people, either with assessment models of models of development that identify people at particular stages of growth and development.

To many who have flowered in the humanist movement since the 50s, 'limitations' seemingly created by putting people in boxes is worse than taking castor oil.

There is clearly a reason to be frightened by box builders, but 'on the other side of complexity' is a simplicity that arises with great optimism. Instead of remaining pessimistic about systems and you might say, leadership that focuses on identifying people through developmental models--in effect boxing them, there is actually great opportunity.

Let me explain.

One thing I've found in every corner of the globe with everyone I've ever worked with in leadership is that people are happier when they are doing something that for which they are fit. So many people are trying to 'fit' into the world, instead of being fit by the world. While change is important and will occur, development actually provides greater efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.

Here's why in my opinion.

As complexity become exponential, we no longer have any way to match it's growth. Some call this the 'red queen effect.' In fact, I doubt even the brightest, most highly developed human stands even a knat's chance of managing anymore. That's my fact number 1. Fact number 2 is that if you try to chase complexity it will outrun you. So, take a deep breath and think about what I'm going to say now.

How can you bring complexity to you?

In all actuality, it's a matter of matching you to your circumstances, at least a range which has a higher probability to produce resilience--an ability to navigate, transcend, bounce-back from failure, largely influenced by your ability to reach out.

Now, aside from natural resilience, most of us have very little range in terms of broad spectrum resilience required today. I guess that might paint a pessimistic picture to some. To me, it provides leadership with the opportunity we've been waiting for in my view.

In order to really succeed today in leadership, you have to reach out, so that's one leg of resilience that will naturally resolve itself in my paradigm.

The next place of leverage is probably based on optimism.

Clearly, the opportunity has arisen to begin to accept that we can't be all everyone wants us to be, so what can we be?

And the answer to that solves yet another leg of resilience--fit.

So, I'll leave you with this idea.

In order to bring complexity to you, there are three things to be optimistic

1. Nobody can manage alone.
2. You have something to offer.
3. Somebody has something to offer you.

In leadership, I believe our role is to facilitate this collaboration. In my view, that can be done by supporting the discovery, disclosure and acceptance required to bring complexity to us, as fit.

To me, this brings about a tremendous space for optimism, rather than continuing to try to manage the amount of change required to keep pace by ourselves, we merely need to see ourselves as a fractal--a complete part of the whole.

I hope you'll discover more about the paradigm of which I speak in my new book, CPR For The SOUL. Until next time, may the wind be at your back,


Mike R. Jay, Founder

P.S. Please visit Mike's public blog at http://www.integraleader.com to comment on this and other articles about leadership.

P.P.S. Mike's 'private', member-only blog is available to those who wish to join, at their own risk: http://www.ontheprofessionaledge.com/founder.

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