I'm shamelessly cribbing these pictures from Exhibit Change's website. I know they won't mind.
The photo above lays out the stone in any planning soup, the heart of leadership - it begins with purpose. If you don't know why you're doing something, you can't possibly know if you're doing it as well as you might, or if you're even on track. Your why is your compass; if you lose the thread or get stuck in the weeds or mud, your compass will always point the way forward.
When you have clarity of destination, you open yourself up to different paths to get there. There are many ways to the top of the mountain, after all. This means that if a better or more interesting avenue presents itself, you can take it; if a selected path doesn't work, you aren't married to it.
When you have confidence of direction, you don't fear losing your way and come to a standstill. You also are less tempted to settle for anything less than your final destination.
Then there's this general thing that when you know where you're headed and confident you can get there, it almost becomes a sin not to invite others on the journey. Why on earth would you want to hold anyone else back? Especially when someone else may hold the bridge you need to overcome a gap you find along the path.
I'm speaking in metaphors, of course - for a life, for a corporation, for politics.
When we define ourselves by what we stand against, do we really know where we're going? Not really. Nor do we care - so long as no one else gets there first.
There's a reason why companies and politicians who stand against tend to atrophy, or at the best turn into idea scavengers. Creativity is not a competitive process. The closest it gets to that is one-upmanship, which isn't the same as winner-take-all. In all its forms, though, creativity is a collaborative process that involves design, risk and iterative failure.
Why has Canada Post failed? Why did RIM fail? Why do we have a democratic deficit?
Competing for market share doesn't bridge new ground. Creativity and engagement does. Political attacks don't generate new ideas - the discourage them, and discourage engagement, too.
If you don't know where you're headed and your world is no more than the ground you stand on, you will keep pushing people off of it. You'll also find yourself rapidly losing ground in the big scheme.
If you tear down everyone around you and everyone else does the same, then nobody gets ahead.
This is why leaders don't tear down, they don't attack and they don't compete.
Leaders rise above, explore new heights and empower others to join them on the journey - to a better life, a stronger business or a healthier society.
It's time we stop digging trenches and start planting seeds again. It's the only way we'll grow forward.