Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The world is perfect

Think back for a moment to when you were eighteen years old and in your final week of high school. The world was perfect. You had great friends, your future was an open book, people were congratulating you and, of course, there were the gifts. While you did not know what the future would bring, you believed it would be good and you were looking forward to it with every fiber of your being.

I received this graduation photo in an email the other day, and it immediately brought me back 30 years. These two young men own the world and it is filled with challenge, opportunity and promise. You can see it in their faces. They have accomplished something important and are headed into a world of unknown perfection.

The photo also made me think that as a leader, this is one of my key responsibilities. To help my team accomplish the present challenges and excite them about the future, even though no one really knows for sure what that future will include. As the leader, (or parent) you work with the team to create this level of “possibility” in what might be.

Does your team demonstrate this level of excitement? Were there times they did?


Geoff Taylor said...

Thanks John - another thought if I may regarding the development of the future ... are not the team/parents charged such that ..'each generation has a preceding authority to use - it will bless or burden!' ... in fact ...
We all carry to the next generation the seeds of construction or destruction.

Joseph Likens said...


Very insightful. Thank you for sharing.

Donald Fish said...

I wish i could have captured that time in a bottle. But to feel it all the more it builds as the small successes add up

Leslie Kohler said...

My daughter is apprpoaching her college years. She is a talented artist and photographer, but doesn't put forth a huge amount of effort in her other school subjects. (She thinks learning history is a waste of time. And why does one need algebra?) I recently started collecting information on design and fine art colleges and we attended an open house. After viewing the school's technology (ie: a film studio) and student projects, my daughter had to admit it was pretty cool. Though my teen has never enjoyed school, I'm hoping that by showing her the realm of artistic possibilities out there, she'll begin to dream about her future, and plan beyond her upcoming weekend.

Patrick J. Banks, Ph.D. said...

John -

Excellent perspective on leadership. Leadership is all about inspiring and influencing people to pursue and accomplish things they may not otherwise undertake on their own. So your take on "exciting" your team is dead on. I may steal that word and add it to my definition of leadership.

I love your slant of "Leadership is a Verb" and couldn't agree with you more. While I, too, believe it's a verb, I also believe it starts with a specific attitude and outlook on life and towards people. There was an excellent discussion in the Leadership Think Tank group about leadership being innate or learned. Some great postings there. You may also want to take a look at what others had to say about Leadership being (or not being) a verb.

Best Regards,


David Vernon said...

My world was never perfect, and still is not. After reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica Junior as a child, and following the news, I discovered a number of things: most of the people running things were not very smart, much of human endeavor was directed toward achieving the impossible or the irrelevant, and most people were quite unaware of the the issues and dangers that really threatened human well-being and survival. Of course, being a brilliant and nerdy outcast in school had something to do with this, but being a Boy Scout had more. I knew early on that life was a series of challenges, some life-threatening, some just arbitrary social matters, but that the world needed improvement and it was up to us to improve it. I guess I grew up sooner in some ways than most.

Ken Chen said...


Hope to listen further about how do you motivate your team in the current economic downturn situation.


Ashutosh Agrawal said...

In my experince of working with teams ( cross-functional and even international teams ), I have observed that the realisation that 'What we are doing will be noticed and make a difference ' excites people. The visibility and a worth-while goal helps. There are lot of other factors too which are important too but I feel this factor is ignored often.

Julianne May said...

The other question to ask is....what happens to tarnish those dreams.

I think as leaders we have the ability to help others hang on or get back in touch with thier dreams in very practical ways. People loose that vigour when they get tired or disrepected in the workplace. As a leader we can make sure this does not happen. Make sure your employees get balance, if the culture of the workplace isnt one that supports others - do something about it. Ask your team in 1:1 sessions "what have they done for themselves lately". Make sure thier aspirations get attention at performance review time. These are really practical ways leaders can be the change they want to see in the world.

Keep well

Angeline Lim said...

Leaders appearing from a perfect world and leaders appearing unscathed from an imperfect world. Which one will perhaps survive in the long run?

People coming from all kinds of imperfect backgrounds, which of the two would they probably listen to with great passion, inspiration and motivation?

Can leaders from a perfect world teach you anything?

Just a thought..

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