Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Global Imperatives – A Call for Leadership

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to realize that we are in the middle of a global crisis. Things are broken. As we survey the landscape of the issues in front of us, three main themes emerge. The first is the need for social sustainability. Our society continues to deteriorate. The current divorce rate is an even 50%. This means that 50 out of 100 marriages are destined for disaster before they walk down the aisle and say, "I do." Domestic violence continues to grow. Every year 3 million women are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend. The worldwide suicide rate is now up to 10.07 per 100,000 people, which is a 65% increase in the last 25 years. Someone takes their own life every 40 seconds. This means that while you watch your favorite NFL team play on Sunday, 270 people choose to end their life. The Pentagon recently released statistics to the AP surrounding soldier suicides and it is now the highest it has ever been as one soldier is ending their life every day. My family has been touched by some of these issues, has yours? In order for our society to sustain, we need change. Marriages need greater guidance, and hurting people need hope and someone to come around them in a time of hopelessness.

The second theme is environmental sustainability. I am by no means an environmental activist, but it is easy to see that we continue to abuse our planet for the sake of progress and profit. President Teddy Roosevelt had incredible foresight by creating the national park service. He saw the human appetite for more, bigger, better, faster, cheaper. We have come a long way in the last twenty years as many communities and businesses have recycling programs. In today's manufacturing environment, the EPA is stricter than ever on emissions standards, but they are merely scratching the surface. It's not just our country though as others around the world would rather turn a blind eye as they dump bio-hazardous chemicals into the local water supplies because they won't spend the money to properly dispose of them. Each one of us are stewards of this planet and are called to take care of it. The innovators of today must continue to find cleaner alternatives that put less of a stress on the planet and reestablish our global sustainability.

The last four years our planet has wrestled with our economic sustainability. Greed, immediate gratification, and our appetite for more have replaced the American attitude of saving, budgeting, and financial discipline. I love what Dave Ramsey says, "Every time I read the story The Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise always wins." Slow and steady has been our recipe for success, but somewhere along the line we lost our patience and became undisciplined. My generation and those behind me want now what took their parents years to financially accomplish. As we watch what is happening around the world, we realize that our global economy is all connected. Sure, the "BRIIC" nations (Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China) continue to grow and develop, but the rest of the world is realizing that our best times are now behind us. Even China has struggled the last couple years with rapidly rising labor costs as their people are tired of getting paid peanuts to produce the world's commodities. Politicians love to discuss their thoughts on how to fix our issues, but they aren't economists or entrepreneurs and have never run a business. If we cannot right the ship and restore economic sustainability our children will pay a catastrophic price.

So what do we do? How do we get our arms around these issues? The word imperative means: an urgent priority; something that is absolutely necessary and must be done. In order to recapture sustainability, we have a global imperative to act. This action is found in recognizing the need for authentic leadership. Our "leaders" today dance around with their own personal agendas while trying to convince us that they are working with our best interests at heart. Authentic leadership is an identity and recognizes the need to serve, influence, and execute. It is the lens through which you view every interaction, issue, experience, and opportunity. Whether you are with your family, at your place of worship, in your community, or at your job, authentic leaders realize their calling is to lead first.

What would happen around the globe if we had leaders that acted in an authentic way? I would argue that socially, environmentally, and economically, we would be at a far different level. How do we impact these issues? It starts with you. The choice is yours to pursue a life of authentic leadership. To begin using your leadership lens every day at home, in your community, and at your job. We must elect officials that humbly reflect, believe, and act on these ideals. If we don't have any to elect, then we need the ones sitting in the background to courageously come forward. The world can't wait any longer for you to step up and lead. It's imperative!