ADULTING OUR CHILDHOOD LESSONS - applying the simple, rational and moral lessons of cautionary childhood tales to how we manage the complex, irrational immorality of adult circumstances.
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG:
We are given the opportunity to DEFINE WHO WE ARE AS LEADERS - by putting things right and doing the right thing.
Yet adult life and leadership is much more complex and nuanced than childhood fairy tales, or is it?
What is the the right thing?
How do we find out?
And we are supposed to always accentuate the positive.
Do things always go wrong?
Isn't preparing for failure negative?
By the end of this post, we will each gain access to insights from our own inner child, remembering the moral virtues of the cautionary tales that formed the basis of our adult moral conscience.
But for now, let's get scientific.
I really like the scientific way that one of my mentors thought. Science and logic is a very good path to rationalise the facts and truth. Science teaches us that failure is normal and good.
The second law of thermodynamics.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the state of entropy of the entire universe, as an isolated system, will always increase over time.
The second law also states that the changes in the entropy in the universe can never be negative.
Entropy and decay.
The failure of every system is inevitable.
Actually, that sounds a lot like MURPHYS LAW!
American aerospace engineer Edward A. Murphy Jr. left us a myriad of laws.
The key takeaway from all of Murphy's laws is that he probably was a pessimistic ball of anxiety, or maybe a very unlucky man, or both.
Let's look at a few examples:
"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."
"It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious."
"Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand."
"If you can think of four ways that something can go wrong, it will go wrong in the fifth way."
"A failure will not appear till a unit has passed final inspection."
"The degree of technical competence is inversely proportional to the level of management."
"Everything takes longer than you think."
"Nature always sides with the hidden flaw."
"The light at the end of the tunnel is only the light of an oncoming train."
Ok, so now we know that:
Nothing lasts for ever.
Things go wrong, they routinely do.
Things break down.
Yet there is this brief window for the reliable functionality and usability of any system.
As leaders, we live in that window.
In ideas like KAIZEN: continuous improvement.
And within that frame of reference, as leaders we become the guardians and caretakers.
We are the engineers who ensure that we can get the most out of the least for the economy of scale and the benefit of all.
If we do that work well, people vote with their wallets.
We call this the enterprise of commerce. Money is only there to say, well done. People really liked your work.
Ethics however is the true foundation of enterprise and commerce.
What really defines us within a system is to define who we are in our response to the brown stuff hitting the fan.
Because it is always going to.
Hit the fan.
It’s the putting right that counts.
Great leaders look at the opportunity with the problem, not the problem with the opportunity.
They seek the angel in the detail, and don’t get diverted with the devil in the detail.
They seek the confluence of mutual interest, and avoid conflicts of personal interest.
We define who we are as leaders by upholding the dignity of our all of stakeholders.
Honouring our promises, we become protectors who will not allow any of our stakeholders to come to harm.
The higher up we go, the broader and deeper, the more complex partnerships become.
Yet the principles are simple.
Imagine enterprise is like a village, surrounded by Forrest’s with good and bad wolves.
We don’t invite the bad wolf to come dine on the inhabitants of the village.
When we find bad wolves, hiding in villagers clothing, we remove them from the village.
We were taught these ideas as children.
But life becomes very complicated.
Unless we remember the lessons.
We must protect each other from malevolent predators that disguise themselves as us to take from us.
Sadly, we are seeing many leaders fall from grace because they became the predator of us.
And so these moral lessons in the ethics and virtues of governance should be equally a priority for educating adults as for educating children.