DR. LANCE SECRETAN
Lessons from Brexit – Dreams Lost & New Dreams Created
Dr. Lance Secretan is widely acknowledged as one of the most insightful and provocative leadership teachers of our time. He is the former CEO of a Fortune 100 company, university professor, award-winning columnist and author of 15 books about inspiration and leadership. He is a thought leader whose teachings and writings on conscious leadership are courageous, radical and ingenious and have been hailed as among the most original, authentic and effective contributions to leadership thinking currently available.
The Common Market was formed among European nations to avoid the future possibility of World War III. But it quickly became an economic and administrative union, and is nearly always described in terms of its economics – the economic crisis of Greece, the economic crisis of incoming refugees, the economic risks among banks, and so on. Following Britain’s historic vote to leave the European Union, the media has been filled with dire economic commentary – the sinking of currencies, the apocalyptic economic predictions, the impact on trade, the loss of Europe’s second largest economy, and more.
But this misses the point. Not everything can be measured in terms of economics – people have feelings, emotions, aspirations, affiliations, traditions, and these are just as important – sometimes even more so – than economics. When the British entered the European Union in 1973 there was the possibility of fulfilling a dream, a dream of oneness, while maintaining a sense of social and national identity. Not only did that dream not materialize, but the British felt that they had given up a lot and received little in return. The British are a unique nation, with a long history, unique social traditions and a strong sense of individualism. All of this was challenged by a bureaucracy headquartered in Brussels. Slowly, the British lost their freedom to live their lives in ways to which they had become accustomed and to retain control over what they ate, who was allowed to visit or live in the country, the weights and measures they could use, and so many other day-to-day items. This forfeiture of identity to bureaucrats in Brussels, and the continuing failure of those bureaucrats to pay attention to the increasing frustrations of the British, ultimately led to a revolt.
Yes, the economics may be painful in the short-term. On the other hand, the British are much more concerned about the long-term. They want to be British first and European second, not the other way around. The economic picture may be tricky in the near-term but this will ignite and propel the famed British doggedness towards a unified cohesion which has been lacking for 40 years. That sense of oneness coupled with a new dream could result in a new European miracle.
Brexit, is a metaphor which holds many lessons for all of us. The loudest voices were those of economists, big business and the cultural and financial center of London, and though the British heard those voices, they didn’t address the emotions, the spirit, the psychology, the id, the intuition or the instinct. It was these aspects that were ignored and which fueled the British votes, and while voters understood the economic risks, the were secondary and an acceptable price to pay. Additionally, we must learn from this that big is not always better, that it is dangerous not to pay attention to the frictions in the small parts of big systems, and accepting the will of the majority doesn’t mean that the minority can be ignored.
There so many great lessons for all of us here: Pay attention to ALL of the voices in an organization. Have a dream and dedicate all of your resources to realizing it. Develop a strong sense of oneness and purpose. Administration should facilitate a dream not thwart it. Perhaps most importantly, when voices are raised loudly proclaiming their unhappiness, listening to those needs and resolving them in a timely fashion will avoid a divorce.
We can imagine, a few years from now, that a Britain with one dream could be one of the happiest and most influential nations on earth.
DR. LANCE SECRETAN / JUNE 2016
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