It hasn’t been easy being an optimist these past few years has it? Times have been tough. In past issues I have shared with you reports on our declining happiness, the loss of hope and trust, significant shifts in our behaviour due to technology, chronic unemployment and the devaluing of work into under-employment. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. However, optimists, positive thinkers and great leaders and managers know that to become better we must know better. While what we know about where we are is not pretty, knowing it helps us design a far better future.
Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali and Muharram, there are many holidays celebrated in our cultures that are rich in holiday spirit. Whether it be simply coming together over food, a celebration of accomplishment, the generosity of fellowship or a reflection on the time that has passed there is a spiritual richness in our celebrations that raises our spirits.
Alva Vanderbilt and the Troubles in Northern Ireland; one woman’s rebellious life and a rebellious war that affected countless lives and many generations. Both were subjected to the wrong end of the principle of legitimacy. So began a fascinating talk by Malcolm Gladwell that I had the pleasure of attending with a fellow member of the Iteratio community.
The next thing. A big idea. A solution to a particularly thorny problem. Creating ideas and solutions that advance us is hard work. It is also messy work. Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks attest to this fact.
“Men can do all things if they will” ~ Leon Battista Alberti
One man has changed the world. He has not fed the world in the biblical sense, although his generosity has filled both stomachs and hearts. He has not revolutionized baking, although his recipe for biscotti is out of this world. He has not become a world phenom in music although his songs have touched hearts across the globe. He was not a celebrity, corporate titan, or visionary politician. Sandro was a baker.
There are two interpretations of this question. One is a statement of futility and resignation. The other is a call to action, a quest for meaning. The quest for meaning is the beginning of something whereas the statement of futility and resignation is the end. The statement is a Middle Ages mind-set and is reflective of the diminishing value in people and attitude towards work that we harboured for over 1000 years. The call to action is a Renaissance mind-set, reflective of the revival of interest in us, our abilities and the opportunity to use them.
Alchemy is an old word undergoing renewal and finding relevance today. Alchemy was the forerunner of modern science. In its time it was mystical, magical and just a little bit of what we would recognize now as “science”. The definition and purpose of alchemy was “an early unscientific form of chemistry that tried to turn base metals into gold, discover a life – prolonging formula and a cure for disease.” Very lofty goals but never achieved. It was Leonardo Da Vinci who helped evolve alchemy, through rigour and reasoning into science with his scientific principles.