I’m profoundly saddened by what happened in El Paso and Dayton. The impact is beyond words and that fact that it happens over and over and over again breeds a level of cynicism that is dangerous to our well-being.
I believe that what has happened there has many underlying causes. On multiple fronts, we are facing problems that are heart-breaking and that require urgent answers.
But those problems only have long-term solutions.
Giving in to the tyranny of the urgent is like playing a game of wack-a-mole. You make this problem go away but another one pops up somewhere else because you haven’t dealt with the root causes. All the while confidence in leaders to find a way forward diminishes.
We need leaders who can admit that we are living in a massive, historic paradigm shift in which we as individuals need a renewal of the human spirit that empowers us to face the challenges that this transition offers. We also need leaders who can admit that all of our institutions are floundering. In the US, government, business, education, law enforcement, and religion are all built around decades-old assumptions of homogeneity, slow change, and a shared set of values and a shared understanding of what is real and true.
None of those realities exists anymore.
Leaders on various parts of the leadership spectrum who call us to double down and work harder at what has worked in the past are most assuredly asking us to choose the slow death option.
So, for us to thrive, we as individuals and all of our institutions must face the challenge of deep change (transformation). And in choosing that pathway, we must also acknowledge that both deep change and slow death involve a painful transition that is messy and sometimes frightening. The more messy and frightening it becomes, the more we look for a savior who can magically make the mess go away. We look for quick fixes and someone to blame.
If that is true, then one of the questions it raises is, “How do we develop leaders who can, with some measure of calm, help us develop the deep changes in ourselves and in our institutions that are required for them to be effective in this new paradigm, this new context?”