Have We Become Better at Leading and Following?

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa was constructed 1100 years ago. Its fame is that it is leaning, and tourists like to see it with their cameras in hand. That’s too bad, really. The natural message is that we can be interested in a potential collapse of a poorly planned building constructed in Italy and make it a tourist attraction… for centuries. It’s bad because of the example it sets that concern for disaster is exaggerated. Expert warnings become monotonous and easily ignored. The public attitude is transferable to any warning. Why worry? Nothing is going to happen…

Words slipping from the keyboard to the computer screen tend to reveal a subconscious store of thoughts, worries, and optimism that outlines and original intentions would not reveal. Unfortunately, the access to false or incomplete information is as exorbitant as factual information, often disguised extremely well.

Written articles not published are tucked in folders for another day because their time is not today, or the subject has been over published. Something new or better representing the thoughts or concerns of the public is needed. Headlines are seen and misunderstood while the defining message text goes unread, by the leaders and the followers.

What has Covid19, 2023, and the early stages of the 2024 political campaigns taught us? Are we learning or waiting for answers to the confusion of too much information machine gunning us in a twenty-four hour a day barrage of news and social media blather? The greatest advance in learning could be learning how to separate fact from fiction.

If nothing else Covid19 taught us that pandemics can still happen. And they can be extremely dangerous. Ignoring the wisdom of preparing for a pandemic should not be lost on us. The reach of a worldwide virus cannot be treated with a cavalier attitude, especially by the general public who needs to appreciate the seriousness, if the prevention of the infection spreading worldwide is expected.

2023 has humbled the biggest, wealthiest, and best of us in an array of countries, governments, militaries and optimistic regions. If we’re honest we will admit how little we truly know about just about everything. Leaders and followers both have more information than they can process to discern.

How much does the average voter know about the candidates they elect to lead them? Sadly, not much.

A look at recent election results will tell you that our elected officials are placed into high-level offices of significant importance by people who wouldn’t want them on any committee in their own small town. It isn’t blind faith either. They have simply been overwhelmed by the process and results of elections of the recent past. What are you going to do to correct this travesty? It may be the most important thing to learn.

Are we becoming better at leading? Or following? I’m afraid we are not. The amount of new information bombarding us every day is outrunning our abilities to absorb it. Computers, technology, artificial intelligence are possibly going to become more important to us than anyone would have imagined a mere generation or two ago. Our confidence and trust in those science fiction tools needs to be accepted before the majority will replace the gut instincts we are so used to.

Greg Henderson is the retired founder of the Southern Oregon Business Journal. A University of Oregon graduate and a six- year U.S. Air Force veteran. 

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