Leadership – for Changing Times

“The times they are a changing…” sang Bob Dylan. And some of us thought that was true back in the 60’s and 70’s!
The magnitude and speed of change in today’s world dwarfs what we then imagined might be on the horizon back in those olden days. Why my mother’s mother, born in the late 1800’s and who died in the late 70’s, personally witnessed the demise of horse drawn transportation and the placement of a human footprint on the surface of the moon.
What might those of us now alive… what might we yet see? What challenges do we face that we cannot even see? What kind of leadership do we require for this emerging future? How do we support the developing leadership potential of our children?
I would posit two things here:
One is that leadership, real leadership, is an inside job. That is, it can only arise out of inner authenticity and wisdom, and I further suggest it will and does arise out of the collective intelligence. That collective intelligence, by the way, includes the other than human world, the intelligence of Nature we are embedded within.
Furthermore, I suggest that any such visioning we might have for the real leadership we require today and tomorrow, must account as best we are able for the world-as-it-is and as-it-will-be. It must account for both Our Ground of Being and for the Power of Our Arrival.
This issue is up for me currently not because I await today’s NH Presidential Primary voting. No, I’ll cast my vote when the time comes but I frankly don’t see real change coming out of a system that is structured to produce more of the same. Meanwhile, if you want to get a picture of the world we might want to be preparing ourselves for, take a look at the Shift Happens / Did You Know III YouTube video.
Meanwhile also, later this week I’ll be gathering with a group of colleagues to envision this question of how to support the development of real leadership for our future.


Many people wonder how long we have to turn things around. It is really not a question of some critical turning point, but of nurturing more viable systems even as the old ones decay. One metaphor for our changing world is Norie Huddle‘s story (Butterfly) of a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. After consuming hundreds of times it own weight daily as it munches its way through its ecosystem, the bloated caterpillar forms its chrysalis. Inside its body, new biological entities called imaginal discs arise, at first destroyed by its immune system. But as they grow more in number and begin to link up, they begin to survive. Eventually the caterpillar’s immune system fails, its body goes into meltdown and the imaginal discs become the cells that build the butterfly from the spent materials that had held the blueprint for the butterfly all along. In just this way, a healthy new world, based on the principles of living systems, can emerge through today’s chaotic transformation. (Elisabet Sahtouris, Earth Dance, 364)

1 Comment

  1. Kent

    01/09/2008 at 5:52 pm

    I watched, with mounting exasperation — and it wasn’t just the endless repetition of the simplistic music; I soon turned down the volume on that — Mr. DiBlasi’s PowerPoint presentation “Did you know. . .III (3) [sic].” It needs no 8 minute slide show come to tell us that the means with which we communicate are changing.
    Worse, I can’t tell what his point is. At the beginning he appears to decry the lack of computer literacy among our older citizens. But later he notes that 41% of the users of YouTube are over 35 so that must not be it.
    And his point can’t be that our children don’t know how to use the technology. Just look at the MySpace statistics he cites. Or the statistics about the amount of time they spend on the internet. Or the number of Google searches.
    It is true that China and India have a lot more people than we do, pay much lower wages and have more cell phones than we have people. And, due to the number of people, must have more honor students than we have students. OK. I’ll assume that IQ scores actually measure something. What is his point? That they are smarter than we are? That our children need to learn Chinese in Kindergarten? That surely is a good idea which will go exactly no where. We are nothing if not ethnocentric.
    And what does he mean by “information?” 1.5 x 10 18th power “unique new information” generated this year. What does that mean? How is he measuring it? What is his definition of “information? What is the difference between “New” and “Unique” in that context?” Even if that factoid is true, I now have to try to forget it as it has no conceivable use to me. (And isn’t “factoid” a lovely new word meaning, I think, “a isolated fact of little use”? My spell-checker doesn’t like it but I don’t care.)
    Or perhaps he is just making up a bunch of predictions which will turn out to be mostly or completely wrong? As we saw just yesterday in New Hampshire, humans are notoriously bad at predicting the future. We hardly ever get it right. Entropy, like gravity, isn’t a suggestion: It’s the law.
    Perhaps he just wants to depress me. I have one of those 70 million blogs so the odds that someone will read it are pretty bad.
    Then he ends with “Shift Happens.” Is that supposed to be cute? Am I supposed to use that as some kind of guide to living? Could he be more ambiguous and less helpful?
    If I am to devote 8 minutes of my life to watching his PowerPoint presentation Mr. DiBlasi owes me at least a succinct point or a clearly expressed reason for watching. He never does that. His tent is missing its long pole.
    Other than that, I thought the thing was fine.

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