“Our conscience is not the vessel of eternal verities. It grows with our social life, and a new social condition means a radical change in conscience”. – Walter Lippmann
What does a quote on ethics have to do with Leadership?
To me everything. Since my first introduction to Ethics via Simon Longstaff and The St. James Ethics Centre many years ago, I have found that Philosophy and Ethics have been a bedrock and foundation to life, living and leadership.
You can say that I have literally walked a road less travelled, many of my heroes and heroines have been similarly the same, and that is a road that requires dedication and concentration. It also calls for awareness and adaptation.
Leadership theories and fads come and go. Organisational trends and restructures are never-ending, not to mention those other inherent nasties that we must dance with from time to time, that can and do wreak havoc and cause many distractions.
Many of these verities teach us how to build a wall; very few teach us how to break them down or get around them. Who constructs this wall, who devises an exit strategy?
We do, and it requires that rare ability to question all that we hold dear.
So now the question becomes, why do we do things the way they have always been done?
Is it because the old ways are the best? A process may have been tried but we can’t automatically assume it has been properly tested. A plan may work but that isn’t to say we couldn’t find a way to make it work more efficiently. Generally, we stick with tradition because it stops us having to think.
But is a cloistered existence all there is to life?
A possible exit lies in the realm of expectation; a theory; an opportunity.
Testing the grounds of expectation takes us back to the vessel of eternal verities. It requires that we examine, in close proximity not only our social life, but also other social conditions and social contracts that exist.
Testing the theories that have supported us for so long can seem a little scary, which is precisely where the magic lies, what exactly underpinned that theory.
Last but least, testing the opportunity is one of those rare beasts that is unquantifiable, however, better to ask what is the cost of lost opportunity rather than the cost of opportunity for the sake of opportunity.
I still recall a comment from Dennis Waitley’s Psychology of Winning from many years ago. He was comparing how the life of a reef and its coral.
“Coral on the outer side of the reef is exposed to many random acts, is brighter and more alive, whilst the coral that is safe and closest to the protected side of the harbour is the most lacklustre”.
Are we curious enough to be brighter or are we prepared to remain lacklustre? The first job of any renovation, physical or mental, requires knocking down a few walls. Only then do the opportunities become apparent.
Happy demolition and we are with you, hammer at the ready.
By Heather Macauley – Heather assists not for profits and small business to discover better ways to move forward and grow and can be contacted here