Also as a country we say: "We're too small. We're too isolated. We're too far away. What can we do?" Imagine what would happen if we said: "We could be the petri-dish of the world."
What's the Evidence?
In my new book "Cracking Great Leaders Liberate Human Energy at Work" I put forward the business case for being more powerful.
So what's the evidence that we can be more powerful?
In today's networked environment its so easy to reach out to people anywhere in world to share ideas and knowledge. We have the platforms; all we have to do is use them. I've found if you have the courage to speak out, you'll find you're not alone. We often assume we are the only ones who think the world is a mess and it can be a lot better. But when you start talking about it other people put their hands up and before long you've got an enthusiastic group of people around you ready to give support and encouragement and lend a hand.
I love the writings of Dr David Hawkins, in 'Power v Force'. He says people with higher levels of consciousness have the ability to counteract the negativity of a significant portion of the population. Hawkins says a single avatar, like Jesus, Buddha or Lord Krishna, all at a consciousness level of 1000, could totally counterbalance the collective negativity of all humankind. I'm not saying we're all at this level; however, I'm sure we're all much more powerful than most of us think.
Rupert Sheldrake says brains are not like computers, they're more like radio transmitters. I think there's something really profound about this. I think we transmit thoughts, even unspoken thoughts and people pick them up. So having positive thoughts, even if they're not verbalised, is more powerful than having negative thoughts. It's as Mark Blumsky (ex Mayor of Wellington) said: "It's not the sad people that I worry about. It's all the people they drag down!"
Research in New Scientist; Vol. 200 issue 2698, page 24 to 27, shows that our feelings are far more strongly influenced by those around us than we tend to think. We are influenced by the feelings of friends, friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends -- people three degrees of separation away from us who we have never even met. These feelings pass through our social network like a virus. So people who you don't even know can be happier because you're happy or sadder because you're sad. It's not some marginal affect, it is important. For example, if a good friend who lives a few kilometres from you suddenly becomes happy, that increases the chances of you becoming happy by 60%.
Indeed, it is becoming clear that a whole range of phenomena are transmitted through networks of friends in ways that are only partly understood: happiness and depression, obesity, drinking and smoking habits, ill-health and inclination to turn out and vote in elections, and a taste for certain music and food. These phenomena ripple through networks "like pebbles thrown into a pond," says Nicholas Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard Medical School.
We are powerful because we currently live in a very special time when we are fundamentally changing the way we think about ourselves. Systems thinking shows that whenever a system moves from one stable state to another stable state it goes through a period of chaos; and close to chaos the system is subject to the 'butterfly effect' where small initial changes can lead to systemwide changes. We have no way of predicting which flap of the butterfly's wing will be noticed by the system and amplified systemwide but it has just as much chance of being the actions you take as anyone else's.
Finally, I think we are powerful because research shows that when just 10% of the population hold an unshakable belief, their belief will be adopted by the majority of the society. At tipping points (see 'The Tipping Point' by Malcolm Gladwell) things can happen quickly. Business has been one of the major drivers of the problems we face as a society; but business may be the only thing powerful enough to fix it. Certainly nothing will change until business changes; but, we don't need to change all business, just 10%.
I'm sure many of us know much of this intuitively but it is easier just to say: "But what can I do?"
Why's it important?
My friend and colleague, Bill Veltrop, says that it's really difficult to change a system, because, every time you try to change it, it will push back. However if you can change the stories that people tell, the systems will change automatically. Perhaps we have been focused on the wrong things. Perhaps we have been hitting our head against the proverbial brick wall trying to change the commercial system, the education system, the political system, the news and media system and the measurement system when what we should have been focussed on is changing the stories we tell ourselves.
So become a cracking great leader by changing your stories and encourage other people to be stronger by getting them to change the stories they tell about themselves. These are some of the themes I cover in my new book, 'Cracking Great Leaders'. One of the key roles of a cracking great leader is to help people change the stories they tell themselves; especially the stories they tell themselves about themselves. Whenever they find somebody telling a story about weakness they encourage them to reframe it in terms of strength. Can you imagine what your organisation would be like if all the negative stories were replaced by positive stories?
Call to action
There are many stories like this that suck our energy. Better stories amplify of energy. The book examines several of these and how you can reframe them.
- I'd love to get your feedback on this idea.
What stories do you hear that keep us weak?
How could these be reframed to make us powerful? My new book (Cracking Great Leaders) is all about making people more powerful. Read the book. Even if you don't agree with me I promise it will make you think more deeply than normal.