Monday, April 07, 2008

Question Everything! (Or, Life Lesson#3,467)

From abi sutherland of making light, something important that everyone should take to heart, whether in politics, art or work and school:

We love heroes and leaders, from Alexander the Great and his iconic descendants to Captain Kirk and his. Whether real or fictional, they stretch the bounds of the possible. They show us a world where our fears don’t limit us, and inspire us to try to live there.

The problem is that great leadership is about more than “the vision thing” or being “the Decider”. A poor leader can sound like a great one by choosing a direction and sticking to it, counting on his “will” to carry him (and the people following him) over the obstacles that they encounter. And if the obstacles are small and their momentum great, that is all that’s needed. But that doesn’t make him a great leader. That makes him lucky, and luck runs out.

What a real leader needs is people who disagree with him. I don’t mean the needlessly contrary, the ornery and the difficult. I mean people who share his ultimate goal, but whose job and passion it is to pick holes in his plans to get there in order to improve them. Sometimes that’s the loyal opposition; sometimes it’s the court jester. Sometimes it’s citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. Sometimes it’s me.

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This mindset never earns... anyone who questions a leader’s vision, many friends. In the public sphere, where motivations are part of the discourse, it is taken as evidence of bias and a reason to ignore any inconvenient views.

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But I believe that those of us who question leaders, who look for failures and are only reluctantly convinced of successes, are important. We can stop a bad idea before it becomes a bad plan, a bad product, a bad policy. I think we need more people like that in the wider world, whether it be consumers adopting a security mindset or citizens questioning government officials.

Food for thought.

2 comments:

bingskee said...

i truly agree with her. being somebody who picks holes can not bring him or her to popularity but it would be needed to have a better world to live in. it is from those who oppose intelligently that we can derive solutions to the gnawing deterioration.

banzai cat said...

"oppose intelligently"

excellent phrase talaga mam bing. this should be written on blackboards in schools.

people think the word 'critical' is only negative in the sense of fault-finding but not from its truer sense, i.e. conducting a critique.