Are You A Great Leader?

Are You A Great Leader?

Or part of the pack?

While everyone would agree that there are many required qualities for an individual to be a leader, an open mind is an often missing key ingredient. It is what makes the difference between a run of the mill leader and a truly great leader.

In this world information is moving at a very fast pace and sometimes innovations and advances change the paradigms we were taught.

Many issues that have plagued mankind throughout recorded history are still with us.

One of those is distrust of the new and a strong and often unsupported belief in what we believe we “Know”.

Most have never taken the time to examine the premises upon which their current beliefs are based. If they did they would find that many of them are false premises. Or, at the very least, have no more support than other ideas to which they have closed their minds.

History is full of examples of individuals with new ideas, innovations, insights and wisdom being ostracized, ridiculed, and condemned until later generations realize the truth of what they were trying to share with the world.

There are always some among us who are “ahead of their time”. If the advances that were delayed were truly considered society would be on the look out for such individuals and embrace them yet, as a society, we continue to close our minds to new possibilities.

One such example is Ignaz Semmelweis who, long before we knew about bacteria and germs, advocated physicians washing their hands between autopsies and tending a Mom in labor. He met with ridicule for his idea. Today we would be aghast at anyone who did not follow such a protocol. Today we cannot even board a cruise ship without being encouraged to wash our hands in anti-bacterial solution.

Advances in many scientific fields and social improvements have been delayed due to the same sort of stunted thought processes that a closed mind creates. It takes someone with vision and imagination to break through the barriers. There is a fairly common saying in the scientific community “Science advances one funeral at a time”. To me, this seems so tragic.

Those with new ideas are often persecuted. The stories associated with the following names demonstrate this throughout history

Jesus Edmond Halley
Giordano Bruno Georges Louis Leclerc Comte de Buffon
Galileo William Buckland
Campanella Charles Lyell
Rene Descartes Louis Agassiz
Tycho Brahe Adam Sedgewick
Johannes Kepler Robert Chambers
Martin Luther King, Jr. Gandhi
Jean Baptiste Lamarck Bertrand Russell
Charles Darwin Niels Bohr

While many would cite religious persecution, the persecution extends further than that. The scientific community often persecutes those with new findings that refute prior beliefs. Many hold back on publishing results that might generate the shunning and outright attacks on reputation and positions that occur. Others suffer the consequences while the greatest injury is suffered by society that must wait longer for new information that is beneficial to the whole.

Many scientists pay attention to their own field of investigation and are unaware of advances in other areas. Perhaps they have such a firm belief that they have spent their life studying the most important area.

Even information provided with citations referencing current, state-of-the-art science in fields such as quantum physics are rejected out of hand by some scientists without even a cursory glance at the cited research.

When one begins researching a specific topic across scientific disciplines it is not difficult to reach conclusions that are obvious when the information in viewed in its totality that the layperson wonders how so many scientists missed the obvious.

Most are not able to see past what they already know or believe to new possibilities and new information.

Steve Jobs could.

I see that as the type of difference it makes to success. There is the pack and then there are the few leaders who are truly great in their ability to see and perceive potential and to imagine.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ~ Einstein

The world continues to be populated with many “leaders” to whom the following quote applies “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” ~ Einstein. They take the position that if they don’t know it then the information is not worth knowing.

The amazing thing is the credence they give to their past teachers (to already know everything and to impart it to them) and to current media (to accurately report what is really beneficial and important instead of what will give them good ratings). This position can rest upon no other belief yet it is clearly, if given the slightest thought, a false premise.

While there are many qualities to good leadership, if we do not want to just go around in circles with the same problems tomorrow as today, we need vision and that requires an open mind to imagine the possibilities and to absorb new knowledge.

When you encounter a new idea do you dismiss it out of hand?

What might be different if you kept your mind open a bit longer and asked “What if this is true?”

Having an open mind does not necessitate accepting as truth everything you encounter but it does require not dismissing information that contradicts your current views without consideration.

How is wisdom gained?

Even when a new idea, once examined is not accepted, is it possible that the person presenting the idea has some truth from which you could build?

New more accurate belief foundations are often a co-creation, for example, the Constitution of the United States was a cooperative effort.

If the new idea is not palatable whole cloth, are there aspects of it that could be adapted to create something better?

There are many responses to new information other than outright dismissal that are beneficial.

We live in a wonderful time. There are new tools and focuses that allow science to go where no man has gone before. Be open to what is found on this journey.

If you are powerful you may just nudge the door open further for the benefit of all.

If you are not yet in a position of power you may find in one of the new ideas the seed of something that will help make your dreams come true.

Do you want to be a run of the mill leader, in the midst of the pack, or do you want to be a truly great leader?