Where to start if you want to change the world?
Some of the popular general categories in random order are poverty, famine, global warming, pollution, energy crisis, fresh water crisis, international conflicts, the collapse of the financial systems, injustice to the weak, improving the quality of life.
Some of the more concrete causes for people to dedicate their life to include curing an illness, stop human trafficking, child labor, oppression of women, animal abuse, or catering to the aesthetics aspect, promoting arts or design culture, change education, or to make the business world better by promoting diversity, corporate social responsibility, customer centricity, or by firing the worst performing 10%, by creating a compelling vision that goes beyond just making profit, creating work/life balance so that employees can have time to also play hard, like doing extreme sports, travel the world, establish and enjoy their families, etc.
To do this the change agents, or “tribe leaders” go into non-profit, business or politics, roll up their sleeves and get down to business, learn how to manage, set priorities and compromise on them, fight for positions of influence so they can achieve what they set out to do, learn about “politics”, fight for resources and make more compromises, etc.
Sooner or later they reach a stage where they don’t know what they believe and they don’t believe what they know.
The crisis they set out to solve gets them, too. They turn to psychologist, hire a business, personal or relationship coach, a personal shopper, a fitness trainer, go to various yoga classes (the real achievers go on to participate in horribile dictu yoga championships!), seek out “gurus” in India or may join one of the religious organizations abundantly available to anyone ready for some spirituality to help them sleep a little better and most of all to learn how to RELAX.
There are practicing zen-buddhists (very popular since the ‘80s), even poets in business organizations who passionately defend “their” views against “adversaries” who just don’t get it, members of charismatic churches who fearlessly evangelize “their” believes to anybody who listens; the list is too long and too insignificant to continue.
In addition to the industrialists, recently a new hero has emerged: the programmer who can quickly ship good enough new tools and toys that people want or the idea guy with connections whose gut can sense where the crowd is going. “Social” tools and “social games”. Sharing platforms. Work is becoming a play as they say. Entertainment is the centre of life and business, not to mention advertising which seems to becoming a 3rd type of reality.
The role models come increasingly from the business domain. Steve Jobs, Jack Welsh, Larry Page, Larry Ellison, “the Zuck”, “the Donald”, Jack Dorsey, Reid Hoffman, Sean Parker and many more. But there is more: an industry full of motivational speakers riding the wave of new age promising both financial and spiritual fulfillment to those receptive enough to a once in a lifetime opportunity to enroll to their seminars – and many-many others have become success gurus handing out wisdom to the crowd – a book at a time or a speech at a time. In fact, many people may ask: why, what other domains should they come from? And the best answer they may give themselves is the Dalai Lama…I won’t even list the worst ones.
Disappointment and cynicism is pervasive: people don’t find what they are looking for either at work or outside of work.
Those with a sparkle of intelligence become disappointed in their leaders. The DEAL that “we don’t care about your personal weaknesses as long as you deliver profits” has never worked. It has always been a one sided deal. The implied message of the other side is: we don’t care about how you feel as long as you deliver what you are paid for…and more. This “deal” has resulted in smart psychopaths occupying leadership positions while a confused mass is either dreaming about becoming one or gives up and delivers what it’s paid for. Both try to over-compensate in the “life” side of the equation by buying: vacations, various forms of fitness (consumers’ yoga is my current “favourite”), beauty salons and surgeons, shrinks, house and fashion, cars and cappuccinos, trophy spouses and lovers, and many others.
The foundation of the disappointment is that the most fundamental leadership qualities are missing in people who occupy leadership roles. Ironically the mass is disappointed because their leaders are just like them – or worse.