Margaret Wheatley published an article titled “Who Do You Choose to Be? An Invitation to the Nobility of Leadership”. She asked the question “Are you willing to use whatever power and influence you have to create islands of sanity?” It is a powerful question and one worth exploring as a leader but also as a community member.
Wheatley calls on us to rely on our “best human qualities to create, relate and perservere”. She invites us to create islands of sanity amidst an ocean of challenges. She admits that the challenges of climate change, hunger, political upheaval and violence are overwhelming. The US Military uses the acronym VUCA to name theses types of challenges facing the world: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.Yet, Wheatley invites us to “be warriors for the human spirit, leaders willing to defend and support people. Leaders who remember and value what humans are capable of creating together.”
If we visualize the concept of “Islands of Sanity” with the VUCA acronym, one can imagine an ocean of challenges facing our global cultures and populations. It is easy to despair, become cynical and hopeless, and even bury our heads in the ground. Yet, Wheatley stands firm that we must create islands of sanity where we can “get good work done”. She asks us to consider thought provoking questions as we begin to create these islands of sanity.
Some of her questions are particularly compelling. To begin, consider where you might want to be a leader that creates an “island of sanity.” Perhaps it is in your office, your community, your school or even your home. Then draw on these and other questions to imagine how best to move forward through these stormy oceans we face.
- How are people relating to each other? Has trust increased or decreased? What is contributing to this?
- Fear vs love- is one dominating more than the other? What role does fear play in your reactions? How can you move more towards love?
- What invitations to contribute have you extended to others and why? How have people responded?
- Is your group willing to be there for one another, to go the extra mile, or not? What’s the evidence for any of our answers?
Consider your role as leader that creates islands of sanity at home, work, and in your community. What is one small step you will take that will empower people to engage in work that is within their reach? What can you as a leader offer on your island of sanity that will increase trust and decrease fear? What is the good work that you want to inspire others to participate in that will make a difference in the world?
Share how you are creating an island of sanity. Together we can be warriors for the human spirit.