How Others Can Take You To The Stratosphere

I am writing this blog from 30,000 feet in the sky, while listening to Beethoven’s beautiful third movement of the Moonlight Piano Sonata – the presto agitato.  Looking out of my window I see a beautiful canopy of white fluffy clouds that span forward to the long horizon.

I have a smile on my face, as I reflect on the immensity of this image – now, a mere ordinary occurrence in our society.

And I ask myself:  what created the environment and the conditions for such awe-inspiring innovation and technology?  Who did it?  How could they?  And how can I apply that power of innovation in leadership and in life?

innovation in leadership

To answer this question, we have to dig a little deeper into the history of our society.

This and similar innovations happened at a time when knowledge became more easily and freely shared, and in societies where there were freedom of expression and ease of collaboration.  It happened when great minds were encouraged to think and emboldened to try.

And it happened in specific geographical areas in a certain time in history – The US, Europe, and a few Asian countries in the last 130 years.

Why?

And what can we learn from it in our life and leadership?

A nation, society, culture, corporation, team, or individual will go so much further when others are systematically invited to challenge and break down the chains of what is known and what works well, and embrace the possibilities of what works better!  To innovate, to create, to imagine!

By all accounts, the success of the US is due in part to the fact that for at least the last 150 years it has attracted (and still attracts) the brightest talent from all over the world and is able to assimilate them into its culture.  Talented and motivated people who don’t come to make the US successful – they come to be successful themselves.

It’s a beautiful example of a “Win-Win”!

The pre-eminent Singaporean leader and Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who for the last 50 years has been a counselor to and trusted by US presidents, Chinese leaders, and many thought and political world leaders observed the following on this topic:

 “Throughout history, all empires that succeeded have embraced and included in their midst people of other races, languages, religions, and cultures.  For the next 10, 15, 20 years, the US will remain the most enterprising, innovative economy because of its leading-edge technology, both in the civilian and military fields… You will lose that gradually over 30, 40, 50 years unless you are able to keep on attracting talent, and that is the final contest, because the Chinese and other nations are going to adopt parts of what you have done to fit their circumstances, and they are also going around looking for talented people and building up their innovative, enterprising economies.”  (Excerpt from Lee Kuan Yew)

Those of us (individuals, companies, countries) who do not have a system to aggressively bring in diverse ideas, opinions and talent will not create such breakthroughs beyond where we currently are.  Period.

So, I have several questions for you regarding your capacity for innovation in leadership – for your team, your organization, or your country.

  • Do you consistently let others in to promote your thinking, inspire your dreams, challenge your assumptions and confront the philosophies and ideologies your life is built upon?  (Hopefully, your answer is yes, and you have a working system to do so.)
  •  Are they the same “trusted” individuals? (Always bring new people into the picture.)
  • Are they individuals of the same persuasion and affiliation? (Have the courage to realize that your way may not be the best way or the only way.)
  • Are they individuals of the same caliber and maturity and accomplishments? (Always look for the best people you can find.)

Break free!!!

It seems that we all tend to get stuck with a certain frequency and wavelength of thinking and living.

Our imaginations and foundational credos that crank the engines of our lives and determine our destinies early on in life become limited to a restricted range, that we rarely if ever break through…most of us bee-bop within the confines of this cage.

And we all ache for breakthroughs!  We all want to be happier, think bigger, be more content, have a better spiritual life, emotional life, and physical life.  We ache for breakthroughs in our marriages, our work, our relationships, our ability to discipline our bodies, tame our thoughts, and control our emotions.

Challenge what you know, what you think, and what you do by bringing the brightest and most diverse minds to speak truth into your life.

If you are looking to increase your innovation in leadership to a height of 30,000 feet, welcome the best you can find into your life, your team, your company, or your country.  Bring them one, bring them all!  And make sure they want to be there, that they are inspired to go the journey with you – not for your benefit, but for theirs – and both of you will move forward boldly as a result.

That’s when, my friend, you will most certainly reach the clouds!

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

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