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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Visionaries: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

Kinsella makes a great point - visionaries are often catalysts for religion and wars.  They can also be catalysts for movements.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream - a vision of what the world could be.  JFK had a vision - to put a man on the moon.  Were it not for the lofty visions of thought leaders like these and others, where would we be?  The truth is it's these pioneers of the future that give us direction and lead the way into better tomorrows.

But big is scary; the Undiscovered Country cannot be quantified and as such is daunting.  Security, surely, lies in the past - make things as they were, wall off the changing world and stay safe.  Between the comfort of The Cave and the unknown perils of the world beyond, who would possibly want to venture out their front door?

We have political leaders these days whose stock in trade is fear.  Fear the unknown and trust in them to keep threats from landing on our shores; don't pry deeply into how they do it, though, for you may not like what you see. 

Sadly, these fear-focused folk are succumbing to their own rhetoric; they look at movements like Occupy or Open Government and fear the potential of the crowd.

Fear, of course, is a biochemical reaction shaped and wired into our brains by substances such as Norepinephrine and, funny enough Dopamine, which gives individuals little hits of happy for scoring personal wins.  It really shouldn't be a surprise that win-focused autocrats have a healthy fear of failure and losing control, which is why they tend to hoard power and tend to have bad tempers.

Leaders, neurochemically-speaking, are fueled less by fear and more by hope for tomorrow and a sense of both community and a sense of responsibility to that community, catalyzed by substances like serotonin and oxytocin.  They dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the starts and make the unknown known - and they inspire us to walk with them on the journey.

It was four years ago that a fella named Andrew Steele told me that mental health was a perpetually under-funded field; it's God's work, he said, but whose willing to pay for God's work?

The Canadian Mental Health Commission.  Veterans and Police officers with PTSD.  Social-emotional learning and self-regulation.  Cognitive Labour and human resource/work design transformation.  Bell Let's Talk.  Stigma reduction and citizen engagement.  Virtuous Schemers.  The Knowledge Economy and The Burning Platform.  Networked Intelligence through Social Media.  Open Government and Open Data.  And, of course, our globally-recognized mental health crisis.

All these strands connect in clear ways, if you think big enough, if you map them out.  Yes, we're in uncertain times and yes, many people have a little Armageddon on their minds.  Where are the leaders with big visions, we ask?  Who are we supposed to be following?

Religion or war.
Us or them.
Live together or die alone.

To those who fear (or deny) that which will emerge next, be it an external force or a loss of self, all I can say is don't panic.  It is a dangerous business, going outside our doors - who knows where you might be swept off to?

Have faith that there are those who at least have a good idea.  The visionary leadership we seek is here, right now, as it has always been.

We need only be conscious of this.

So who's up for an adventure?

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