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My ideas are constantly changing as I learn. Sometimes they even change midway through writing a post.

Tuesday, February 21


In my more recent research (my fancy term for frantically following whatever links and reading whatever articles catch my interest), I ran across something that particularly resonated with some ideas I've thought a lot about in the past.

Leadership without Vision

I'd like to start with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald that sums up the essence of leading in an unpredictable market: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind, at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."
That's what you have to do as a leader in an unpredictable market. You have to think that you're right to act. You have to know that you're wrong, because all knowledge is provisional, and yet you must act. How do you do that?

It's not only leaders of unpredictable markets who have to act while knowing they're wrong. It's most everyone. Everyone else acts while under the illusion that they aren't wrong. By wrong, I mean that a person's understanding of reality isn't complete and can't be. At best one might have a lot of important things close enough to right to accomplish something good.

How do you go about choosing which of several potential visions of your life is your best option? Can you really have such a vision?

When looking at a far off vision that doesn't quite "work" yet can it help to do indirect things to make your own ability to solve problems better? Shouldn't your "vision" change sometimes according to the knew knowledge and skills you've gained (or come to realize you don't possess and don't care to posses)?

What do you think of the idea when "stuck" of exploring things randomly to get unstuck? Is there a more efficient way to get unstuck? Explore randomly and then apply it to the current situation?

The article goes on to talk about criticism - how it's needed and yet difficult to accept. One thing that has come to mind is that fear is a big part of the problem - fear that you won't be able to cope with your new "improved" vision, or understanding, of reality. There may be good reasons for this fear. It may take skills and knowledge and abilities you don't think you have. Then what?

So at its heart, the key to leading in an unpredictable world, is tenacity. It's about never mistaking an interim defeat for final defeat. It's about never confusing a victory with ultimate victory. It's about keeping going, keeping learning, keeping revising, and knowing if you go at it long enough, you can win.

I have thought of tenacity as sticking with something and accomplishing it or continuing to try whether that something is good or not. I imagine it being like a guy persistently beating his head on a wall to knock it down. It might be tenacious, but is it good?

Professor Sull's description is a bit different. It combines stick-to-it-ness with learning and revising. The guy things about bringing in some heavy machinery or some dynamite but then he remembers that the point of his effort was to get to the other side of the wall and walks around it.

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