To Lead

We’re moving through the tangled maze
Connecting and reflecting
We’re weaving on our loom of days
Creating and remaking

The map is never true nor clear
The path is never straight
And yet a pattern will appear
For we who watch and wait

We’re surfing on the waves of change
Trusting and adjusting
We’re dancing through the halls of strange
Twirling and unfurling

The music beat can always shift
The tides will ebb and flow
And yet a movement will emerge
To take us where we need to go

Wayne Visser © 2019

Book

Seize the Day: Favourite Inspirational Poems

This creative collection, now in its 3rd edition, brings together favourite inspirational poems by Wayne Visser. The anthology takes us on a journey through the peaks and troughs of life, celebrating the indomitable human spirit.. It includes many old favourites like “Poets Must Be” and “Chasing the Blue”, as well as brand new poems like “The Writer” and “Making Ripples”. Sages through the ages wisely say: / Carpe Diem – seize the dawning day / Oh, would that I could assuage that thirst / But the day conspires to seize me first! / With the hurry and scurry / Of home’s frantic flurry / And the hustle and bustle / Of work’s tangled tussle. Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.

Share

Open Letter to Young People on Donald Trump’s Election as President

Open Letter to Young People on Donald Trump’s Election as President

Read by the author, Dr Wayne Visser, on 12 November 2016

Transcript

To the Next Generation of Leaders:

As Donald Trump prepares to take up office as US President, I (like so many others) am trying to make sense of it all. And whether you care about politics or not, this is a seismic event, which is shaking the foundations of the world and will affect you in one way or another.

I don’t know how you feel about it – amused, indifferent, shocked, disappointed, or outraged. But whatever your emotions, we all must now accept the disturbing fact that 60 million educated people have voted for a chauvinist, bigoted, racist, old white man to be the so-called ‘leader of the free world’.

Of course, the choice was not unambiguous – Hillary was far from a perfect alternative. I have heard commentators say that this was a vote by the ‘common people’ for change, fuelled by a deep mistrust of the corrupt political and business elites of Washington and Wall Street, which is not entirely unjustified.

Be that as it may, while the media and the public are still in an apoplectic frenzy of recrimination (or celebration, depending on their political perspective), I want to rise above the storm and reflect on what this might mean for you and your future, beyond the next four years.

My first plea to you is: Do Not Panic! Martin Luther King said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. And as someone who lived through South Africa’s triumph of democracy over a 40-year brutal, racist apartheid regime, I have seen the truth of these words.

Trump, for all his bluster, cannot turn the tide of history, nor change the momentum of decades of progress on human rights, peace and the environment. He can try to renege on the global climate deal or any number of other responsibilities, but the world (and you) will move forward, with or without him.

The future belongs to the youth and I am optimistic, because you have grown up empowered by global connectivity and with access to the best that science and knowledge has to offer. I am convinced that you will not allow your opinions to be dictated by narrow-mindedness and shallow sloganeering.

At the same time, I am encouraged that the nature of leadership has changed in the past few decades. The way you live your life – and the values you choose to express – is no longer determined by politicians. Today, the people creating a better world are young social entrepreneurs, activists and change-makers.

I am not saying that we can or should ignore calamitous leadership when we see it. On the contrary, as right wing forces grow – in reaction to increased uncertainty and fear in the world – we must be extra vigilant and stronger advocates for social justice and sustainability than ever before.

No doubt about it, the work of defending liberal values just got harder in the wake of Trump’s election. But as Lebanese poet and mystic Kahlil Gibran said: “Every dragon gives birth to a St George who slays it”. And we are the knights who will take up the challenge to fight for the better future you deserve.

My simple message to you is this: Do Not Be Disheartened. Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind us of what is really important in life. And in the darkest hours, that is precisely when the human spirit shines brightest. So do not be distracted by the ensuing circus in the White House. Stay focused on the big picture and the long view.

Build your future on strong ethical foundations – those values that many before you have fought and died for, and which you now cherish. Then, rest assured, you will triumph, no matter what political earthquakes, social upheavals, environmental catastrophes or moral storms may come your way.

You are not alone.

Share

Share

Open Letter to Young People on Donald Trump’s Election as President

Open Letter to Young People on Donald Trump’s Election as President

A blog by Wayne Visser, first published on Huffington Post

To the Next Generation of Leaders:

As Donald Trump prepares to take up office as US President, I (like so many others) am trying to make sense of it all. And whether you care about politics or not, this is a seismic event, which is shaking the foundations of the world and will affect you in one way or another.

I don’t know how you feel about it – amused, indifferent, shocked, disappointed, or outraged. But whatever your emotions, we all must now accept the disturbing fact that 60 million educated people have voted for a chauvinist, bigoted, racist, old white man to be the so-called ‘leader of the free world’.

Of course, the choice was not unambiguous – Hillary was far from a perfect alternative. I have heard commentators say that this was a vote by the ‘common people’ for change, fuelled by a deep mistrust of the corrupt political and business elites of Washington and Wall Street, which is not entirely unjustified.

Be that as it may, while the media and the public are still in an apoplectic frenzy of recrimination (or celebration, depending on their political perspective), I want to rise above the storm and reflect on what this might mean for you and your future, beyond the next four years.

My first plea to you is: Do Not Panic!

Martin Luther King said: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”.

And as someone who lived through South Africa’s triumph of democracy over a 40-year brutal, racist apartheid regime, I have seen the truth of these words.

Trump, for all his bluster, cannot turn the tide of history, nor change the momentum of decades of progress on human rights, peace and the environment. He can try to renege on the global climate deal or any number of other responsibilities, but the world (and you) will move forward, with or without him.

The future belongs to the youth and I am optimistic, because you have grown up empowered by global connectivity and with access to the best that science and knowledge has to offer. I am convinced that you will not allow your opinions to be dictated by narrow-mindedness and shallow sloganeering.

At the same time, I am encouraged that the nature of leadership has changed in the past few decades. The way you live your life – and the values you choose to express – is no longer determined by politicians. Today, the people creating a better world are young social entrepreneurs, activists and change-makers.

I am not saying that we can or should ignore calamitous leadership when we see it. On the contrary, as right wing forces grow – in reaction to increased uncertainty and fear in the world – we must be extra vigilant and stronger advocates for social justice and sustainability than ever before.

No doubt about it, the work of defending liberal values just got harder in the wake of Trump’s election.

But as Lebanese poet and mystic Kahlil Gibran said: “Every dragon gives birth to a St George who slays it”.

And we are the knights who will take up the challenge to fight for the better future you deserve.

My simple message to you is this: Do Not Be Disheartened.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to remind us of what is really important in life. And in the darkest hours, that is precisely when the human spirit shines brightest. So do not be distracted by the ensuing circus in the White House. Stay focused on the big picture and the long view.

Build your future on strong ethical foundations – those values that many before you have fought and died for, and which you now cherish. Then, rest assured, you will triumph, no matter what political earthquakes, social upheavals, environmental catastrophes or moral storms may come your way.

You are not alone.

Share this page

Share

Changing the World, One Leader at a Time

Changing the World, One Leader at a Time

Blog by Wayne Visser

Part 12 of 13 in the Age of Responsibility Blog Series for CSRwire.

We face a crisis of leadership. Our global challenges loom large and clear, but we seem to lack leaders who can make change happen at a scale and speed that match the size and urgency of the problems we face. In an attempt to understand this leadership impasse, I’ve done some research with the University of Cambridge’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership on how change happens. In this blog, I’ll briefly outline some of our conclusions.

Let’s start with what kind of change we’re talking about. Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, observes that companies that went from being ‘good to great’ did not rely on revolutions, dramatic change programmes or wrenching restructurings. ‘Rather, the process resembled relentlessly pushing a giant flywheel in one direction, turn upon turn, building momentum until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.’

So we’re talking about catalysing and scaling up change. And for this change to be successful, leaders need to foster and entrench new values, culture, incentives, rules and resources. In Accenture and the UN Global Compact’s 2010 survey, 54% of CEOs felt that a cultural tipping point on sustainability is only a decade away—and 80% believe it will occur within 15 years, so perhaps we are nearing a moment of infectious change. Meanwhile, at the organisational level, leaders must catalyse change for sustainability through a suite of actions, including innovation, empowerment, accountability, closed-loop practices and collaboration.

We found that effective sustainability leaders are good at promoting creativity in business models, technology, products and services that address social and environmental challenges. Sustainability leaders also implement structures and processes for good governance, transparency and stakeholder engagement.

Accountability does not have to be all about structures and controls however. Collins believes great leaders foster a culture of discipline, saying ‘When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy. When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy. When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls’. According to Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of G.E., ‘Enron and 9/11 marked the end of an era of individual freedom and the beginning of personal responsibility. You lead today by building teams and placing others first. It’s not about you.’

The best sustainability leaders adopt principles of cradle-to-cradle production, internalising externalities and extending these principles to the supply chain. Sustainability leaders also build formal cross-sector partnerships, as well as innovative and inclusive collaborative processes such as social networking (Web 2.0). Betty Sue Flowers, co-author of Presence, poses the challenge as a question, saying, ‘We know a lot about heroic action because that’s in the past of leadership. But how do you have leadership in groups across boundaries, multi-nationally?’

At the people level, leaders catalyse change for sustainability by providing a compelling vision, encouraging long term thinking, making strategic investments and promoting intergenerational equity. Immelt says ‘every leader needs to clearly explain the top three things the organization is working on. If you can’t, then you’re not leading well.’ Ray Anderson, the late CEO of Interface, saw this as a process of inclusion, saying …

Continue reading

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”download” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/blog_change_leader_wvisser.pdf”]Pdf[/button] Changing the World, One Leader at a Time (blog)

Related websites

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.csrinternational.org”]Link[/button] CSR International (website)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” style=”tick” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-age-of-responsibility”]Link[/button] The Age of Responsibility (book)

Cite this blog

Visser, W. (2012) Changing the World, One Leader at a Time, Wayne Visser Blog Briefing, 12 January 2012.

Share this page

Share