Here are three things to say when your goal is to stifle creativity and bring any conversation about change to a screeching halt.

  • “That {problem / issue / challenge} will always be present.”
  • “You’ll never {gain consensus / get the support necessary} to change that…”
  • “It is what it is.”

There are scores of variations on the theme. But the thesis is the same: discussion is pointless — things will never change / improve — the dye is case.

There is no more poignant indicator of an absence of leadership.

Great leaders cast a vision of what is possible…and are relentless in both their pursuit and their communication of that vision.

Humanity is the beneficiary.

History is emphatically punctuated by those who, holding fast to what many viewed as an audacious possibility, have discovered cures, invented tools and technology, built infrastructures and explored new frontiers.

No Podium or Gavel Required

We may be conditioned to think of leaders as those possessing title. But this isn’t about position or station.

Everyday leaders in family rooms, community centers and every job imaginable search for and find solutions that change reality…for themselves and those with whom they live, work and relate.

Nowhere is the presence or absence of leadership more clear than in an hour of darkness or the face of existential threat.

When the fear of change (or the loss of turf) is the motivator paralysis is the predictable byproduct. Where the same old words spell the same tired response, progress on any front will be thwarted.

But rather than avoiding them, great leaders instigate better conversations.

Enduring change is almost always painfully slow. Yet I hope that I would have been supporting the Wright brothers…advocating for Henry Aaron…arguing for the research that has led to saving millions — because those who aspire to lead should be about solutions.

Perpetual naysayers rarely lead anything that lasts.

All of us enjoy the fruits of compelling visions and the leaders that kept the faith, carried the torch and, often by the sheer force of will, found new ways to pierce darkness…eradicate diseases and make hope palpable.

Envision the Impossible

I believe we can accomplish impossible things. If you need inspiration, take a look at the breathtaking work being done in the field of prosthetics, or in the early detection of Alzheimers. Or spend time exploring Chat GPT. Or visit with someone whose heart is monitored wirelessly.

Most of us are surrounded by tangible manifestations of impossible visions and the (often quiet) leaders who pursued them.

I am grateful that a physician fifty-plus years ago was driven by a vision to give sight to the legally blind. Thanks to the pursuit of a solution to what most believed an unsurmountable issue, thousands of individuals who, like me, can barely see the large “E” on an old wall eye chart, have been given a measure of sight.

We can accomplish impossible things. Sometimes those who claim to be leaders are simply not up to the task. Sometimes their vision is just too small.

So when I hear resignation around our most challenging issues — when prominent voices suggest that the conversations are too difficult or contentious — I say a silent prayer that there might be a small band of leaders who refuse to accept the way things are…who dare to believe there are solutions. And who are courageous enough to lead.

(If you’d like information on a workshop for Leaders and Leadership Teams designed to align values, aspirations and operations in a way that will engages your entire organization, shoot me a note —