In a recent innovation and transformation conference I had an interesting exchange with a group of Leaders about how much we love to gossip about others, and how hurt we are when others gossip about us. It is so enjoyable for us to identify and label the mistakes and idiosyncratic behaviours of others, rather than recognising our own poor traits or questioning our own inappropriate behaviour. I could not help drawing a parallel to the fact that we make judgement calls many times based on very little evidence and then rationalise circumstances to fit with our pattern of potential outcomes. No more so than when we judge people based upon our own biases or prejudices or the unfiltered gossip handed to us by others. The Paralympics challenged us all in our thinking. I had always considered myself very diverse in my views and non-judgemental in my opinions of others. Yes of course I do succumb to the corner gossips, the idiotic prattle and the fast opinions; I fight them yet they are part of my dark psyche.
I do believe though that the Paralympics was an ‘aha’ moment for me. I am profoundly impacted by the unbelievable capability and courage demonstrated by our Paralympians. They have demonstrated a remarkable ability to achieve their goals and have impressed and inspired the world with their skills, dignity and determination. Their human spirit, which has been utilised to confront and overcome a multitude of physical, emotional, psychological and environmental barriers, has achieved the seemingly impossible and has potentially changed the views of non-disabled people, institutions and governments throughout the world. They have inspired me. How many of us truly thought about the bravery, guts, and unbelievable skill of these fine athletes going into the Games, and how many of us still laugh at the drivel that emanates from comedians such as Frankie Boyle for what he loosely describes as humour. Of course we must laugh at ourselves, of course we should never take ourselves too seriously, and one of my abiding passionate hates is self-righteous individuals who try to hold a sanctimonious light to others while their souls behave in a dark and black manner. Those who act as ‘best person in the class’ while hiding their sanctimonious traits behind a well concealed mask.
My point here in relation to business, is that we cannot rely on our interpretations of the past as a predictor of the future. We cannot be blinded by our analysis of past events, or their likelihood for repetition. We have to be even more aware of what we don't know, rather than what we do know. We have to be even more aware of our biases and our prejudices and look to the future, cognisant of the past, challenging the blindness this may give us, removing our bias, stretching our discomforts, being prepared to lead with risk, and agile to deal with the disruptive events that may knock us for six. There is no real crystal ball that predicts the future but there is in us an ability to deal with whatever it may bring. As our fantastic Paralympian athletes demonstrated, we too can confront and overcome a multitude of physical, emotional, psychological and environmental barriers and achieve the impossible.