Monday, September 19, 2011

A touch of madness

Madness! Madness!!
Last two words spoken
"Bridge over the River Kwai"

Sane was the watchword

In several posts, I've made the point that the passionless rationalist will often find it hard to reach a decision. They are wrapped up in the paralysis of analysis--they keep going over all the data and all the alternatives and never reach a consensus--with others or with themselves--on what to do.

My contention, said by many others as well, is that it takes a dose of passion for a vision to break the analysis cycle and reach a decision. And, note this: the passionate have stickiness--once decided, it's hard-to-impossible to move someone off their position.

How many times, on a big decision, have you had an instinctive feeling: this is the right thing to do!  Once felt, there's no more paralysis and there's no more dithering.

That stickiness we spoke of is an elixir to  the follower community: Yes! the leadership knows where we need to get to; there will be certainty and willingness to put it on the line to get there.

Now, I've also written about innovation, and the role leadership plays inspiring the creative to innovate something new to the world.

Along comes a touch of madness

But what luck! Now we learn that there's something that ties leadership and innovation together--something unique when a leader is both inspirational and innovative. In a book that ties it all together, it turns out that truly inspired and innovative leadership have a common root: it is the byproduct of mental disorder and mild manic depression. Who knew? In a stroke (no pun), we've now got the whole picture!

In a new book, author Nassir Ghaemi explains in "A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness" that some of our best and brightest are just a little mad. Is this surprising?
Perhaps not.  But Steven Colbert was particularly insightful when he asked whether we should be worried that a madman may have his finger on the button (even if only the project button).  Ghaemi said: "That's one way of putting it".  But in his telling, benefits outweigh risks.

God, I hope he's right!

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