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Providing leadership
by seeing the unseen

Churchill saw what others did not

One famous example of seeing what others may not see can be found in the leadership of Winston Churchill. Consider how in 1940, he awakened in the British a self-concept that had long lay dormant. Isaiah Berlin says of Churchill:

“He created a heroic mood and turned the fortunes of the Battle of Britain not by catching the mood of his surroundings but by being impervious to it, as he had been to so many of the passing shades and tones.”

David Cooperrider adds:

“Churchill’s impact was the result of his towering ability to cognitively dissociate all seeming impossibilities, deficiencies, and imperfections from a given situation, and to see in his people and country that which had fundamental value and strength. His optimism, even in Britain’s darkest moment, came not from a Pollyanna-like sense that ‘everything was just fine,’ but from a conviction that was born from what he, like few others, could actually see in his country.”

We can grow toward a preferred future

We don’t have to be as brilliant, powerful and charismatic as Churchill, nor do we need to be faced with a life-and-death situation, to use these principles.

In fact, since I discovered this theoretical basis for hope and optimism, I’ve found that anyone’s life — including my own — can move toward a preferred future, one which grows from our choosing to see the best.

We can be pulled to our desired future just as if we placed a light source outside a room, cracked the door open and allowed ourselves, like plants, to be heliotropically pulled toward the source of energy, that positive image.

As David Cooperrider suggests, we’re always putting those images out there, anticipating the future, prophesizing what will happen. We are anticipatory beings. It is this power of expectation that pulls us toward future reality.

So why not organize our anticipation of the future into a picture, a vision — one that is so vivid that it becomes real and so magnetic that it energizes us?

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