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Three Perils of Thought Leadership

Michael Collins at Rally
“Two percent of the people think; three percent of the people think they think; and ninety-five percent of the people would rather die than think.”

George Bernard Shaw

 

 

It’s virtually impossible to visit any corner of the Business/Entrepreneurship/Management  Web without someone

Michael Collins at Rally

Michael Collins at rally

announcing themselves to be a ‘Thought Leader’.  In theory, the clash of ideas and viewpoints would lead to the annihilation of the weakest, and, persons who championed the better ideas will have earned the title “Thought Leaders”.

As we well know, theory and practice are not the same thing.

In the real world,  silly ideas can spread like an oil fire (remember ‘planking’) and bad ideas can last for generations. Why? Probably, because we think with our thoughts but we don’t always question the nature or substance of our thoughts.  Any idea we have that is validated by even a small group becomes precious and even more tied to  our ego.

Herewith are three thoughts that potential thought leaders need to fully think about before they publicize their thoughts. Yes, the previous sentence does actually make sense.

 

  1. Are your thoughts built on a False Premise?

The premise, aerial bombing will break an enemy’s will/ability to fight. A closer examination does not bear this out.

In World War I, Germany bombs England from airships (zepplins).  At the time this is a totally new aspect of war but does not stop England and its allies from ultimately winning.

In World War II The Germans carpet bomb parts of England, the English and Americans return the favour by bombing German cities. Neither side’s will is broken.

The Vietnam War. The world’s most powerful airforce bomb the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong at every opportunity. The South Vietnamese government, despite years of financial and military aid from the U.S, collapses in 1973.

The Global War on Terror (Iraq part II, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc) Remote controlled drones now make ‘surgical strikes’ with guided missiles.  When will this war end and what will victory look like? No one seems to know.

Aerial bombing is useful in some ways but the idea that it can break an enemy’s will to fight has been proven wrong on multiple occasions. The premise, however wrong is still the basis for international policy 100 years after it was conceived.

 

  1. Are your thoughts based on accurate data and is your interpretation of the data correct.

The Conservative author David Brooks has made a career of sharing his thoughts on various aspects of American culture and a need to ‘reform’ it.  His book, “The Road to Character” cites a study that seeks to show how self-absorbed Americans have become.

The problem is, the interpretation of the study* is so wrong it requires a separate article**. There have been multiple opportunities for fact checking and correction, but the error in “The Road to Character” has never been addressed.

This misinterpretation/misrepresentation of the data -whether deliberate or not- will be the basis for many misinformed opinions about young americans for years to come.

  1. Are your thoughts stated in such a way that your followers can easily adhere to them?

While it might not be a thought leader’s fault if adherents warp your teachings, some ideas are easier to twist than others.

The instances where followers go off on a tangent or even worse in the opposite direction are many.  The most recent historical example is the patron saint of conservative american politics, President Ronald Reagan.  Reagan is best remembered for his trickle down economics, rabid anti-tax stance and his firm belief in a strong military, which he used to invade Grenada.

Fast forward to today and there is little mention that Ronald Reagan negotiated several weapons treaties with the Soviet Union (which he called the ‘Evil Empire’) and raised taxes eleven times in eight years  (There are two sides to this story. Interested persons can read them at the links below).

Those who proselytize in Reagan’s name today, do so while ignoring his actual accomplishments in terms of peace and his nation’s economics.

 

Thought Leadership is not an easy task.  The would-be Thought Leader must avoid falling in love with his thoughts to the extent that he is blinded to faults or weaknesses in his ideas.  Scepticism with your own ideas is harder to do than it appears but those who do will have weeded out the weakest one and have earned the title of Thought Leader.

 

Now share your thoughts on Thought Leadership in the comment section.

 

*Link to the actual study is here

**Article on David Brooks vs The Truth can be read here.

Reagan taxes – liberal view

Reagan taxes – conservative view

. . . . . On Father’s Day

Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe via Compfight cc

 

In my last post, I stated how grateful I was to my friends and family, who’ve made my life possible.  Since it was Mother’s Day, I focused on women, so for Father’s Day, I’ll concentrate on the men.

The problem with writing about close male friends is that in the modern age, we have become conditioned to believe that any sign of affection between men is also a sign of homosexuality.  This is a real problem, since without a few close friends to act as a compass,  extremely bad things can happen.    This conditioning is quite recent, as can be seen here.  Men become estranged from one another, with each fighting his own private battle, totally ignorant of the fact that the man next to him has the same issues.

This is all very sad and, it is also deadly.  Studies show that men with more social contacts (friends) live longer and happier lives.

There comes a point in your life when you realize who really matters, who never did, and who always will.

– Unknown

Here are the men who have come this far with me and helped mold me (for better or worse!) into the man I am today.

Dirklyn Munnings – ‘Dirks’ is in biblical terms, “a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” which is especially apt since he was originally the best friend of my older brother, Kevin.  After Kevin’s death and my return from college we’ve become so close that people often think that we are brothers, nevermind the fact that Dirklyn has six brothers of his own.  Dirks is amazingly helpful but also damned annoying so the pleasure of seeing him is always overcome by the urge to curse him, which I do on an almost weekly basis.  This fact was included in my Best Man speech at his wedding.

Alex Carey – Alex once tried to convince me that a male walrus needed a baculum (Penis bone) because female walruses were too ugly.  His exact words, “Come on, don’t you think a (male) walrus would prefer a cute sea-lion instead.” A 15 minute discussion ensued on walrus/sea-lion relations.  Alex also  described his financial situation as, “escaping the miry clay.”   Our conversations are meandering and nonsensical but also filled with useful information.

He has the unique ability to accurately assess the financial costs (and how best to mitigate them) of romantic relations with women, from first date to marriage and everything in between.  It was from him that I learned the finer points of “raising the game“.  Alex is of the Masonic Order and his writings on perfecting the craft can be seen here.

P. Elliot Sealy – Gynecologist/obstetrician and one of the angriest, most abrasive people I know.  He is also one of the most charming.  Elliot even flirts with Aunt Elva. When people ask how  we know each other, I tell them he is one of my experiments gone wrong.  Actually, he is the nephew of my best  childhood friend. Ask a eight-month pregnant woman if Stevie Wonder shaved her? Yup. Compare getting a loan to date rape? (They’ll ‘roofie’ you.  You’ll know you’ve been violated, but you won’t be sure how.”) Check. As I said, abrasive, so it is always amusing to walk down the halls of the local hospital with him and see nurses, patients and even other doctors, giving him a smile and a nod of recognition.  There are many benefits to having a good friend who is a (competent) doctor, so I guess we’ll stay friends for another 35 years.

Dwayne J. Harrison (Deceased) – ‘Harry’ was the kind of man, that I wanted to be; quiet, steadfast, focused and incredibly smart.  Even though we might not talk to each other for months at a time, when we did, it was with the same comfortable familiarity that we had in university.  When he died from a heart attack  at the age of 43, I cried as much as I did when my brother passed away twenty-six years earlier.  Gone but not forgotten.

Maverick Moxey – Yes, Maverick is his real name, and as I always say, “Maverick by name and Maverick by nature”  Have you ever noticed that when a TV commercial wishes to convey the symbolism for rugged, hardworking, individualism, there is always a welder/metal worker in the background, (watch  truck advertisements to see what I mean)  I met Maverick when I was a student at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute studying welding and he was my teacher. In other words, he is not just a welder but a trainer of welders.  Profane, hard-drinking, harder partying, and loyal to a fault, few people would believe that he began his working life as an accountant and presently has at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Welding.    If Harry was the person to call if I needed a well thought-out, plausible alibi, Maverick would be the person I’d call to hide the body without asking questions.

Joel Reckley and Maxwell McIntosh – When I went to live on Green Turtle Cay,  I barely knew the difference

Green Turtle Cay waterfront

Green Turtle Cay waterfront

between a hammer and a saw.  The only thing I knew how to build  was a sandwich.  Joel and Max were extremely generous with their time, skills and tools.  From them I learnt, how to build hurricane shutters, fix a water pump, fill my rain tank and several other ‘manly’ skills.  This experience gave me the confidence to pursue my dream of becoming a welder.  Most importantly, I learnt the truism of the phrase, “If you  can’t be handsome, then at least be handy.”

 

 

Honourable Mentions

Robin Hardy and David McGorrin – Not much to say about my partners in art.  My work with them is explained in this post.

 

Compliments, and recognition of the men in our lives are always in short supply.  Which man in your life deserves recognition?  Leave your answer in the comment section.

. . . . . On Mother’s Day

A black black family but not mine. Flickr Commons

With eight operations; (two major), one near fatal car crash, two parachute jumps, seven bouts of pneumonia caused by the hereditary disease Sickle Cell Anemia, various mishaps and accidents, all behind me and the 50th birthday looming, there are times I need to take stock of where I am physically, mentally, financially, and spiritually. Here is what […]

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Organizing an Art Show. 5 Tips You Need to Know

“From Within’ is the first art show of its kind in The Bahamas.  The show featured three woodturners (Robin Hardy, Jeremy Delancy and David McGorran)  who not only highlighted their skills but also the beauty of wood as a medium.   I came up with the idea of having the show in November of 2013 and […]

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How To Start An Art Collection Without Going Broke

Hyperrealistic Drawing of hands

As you get older, richer and hopefully wiser, you realize that there is a need for a little ‘culture’ in your life.   It’s time to move into adulthood with ‘serious’ art work.  But, how do you do it without breaking the bank?  This is a guest post by Kim Smith, who is an internationally […]

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