A post by Terry Condon sent me off thinking.
Terry wrote about meeting Hans Muller-Wohlfahrt. Two paragraphs in particular caught my attention:
Many people move into their chosen field and ‘specialize’ in an area in order to become an expert. Hans’ is no different, most of the time he works with athletes. However it seemed to me that Hans had acquired a bigger picture of healing. He had not subordinated to one industry paradigm of how things ‘should’ be done and limited his learning to one isolated body of research. Instead he actively took from various methods and disciplines what he felt was valuable and developed his own idea of healing.
… the level of success you will have is directly correlated to the amount of criticism you are prepared to accept. In order to create the kind of results that will make you a leader, you need to first be prepared to become ‘the villain’ in many people’s eyes in the understanding that at the same time or eventually you will also become the ‘hero’ for many others.
Reflecting on Terry’s post helped me realise how fortunate I am. This year I have met and spent time with many game changers. All of them have energy and passion. All of them have big pictures of where they plan to be.
I like to read about game changers too. In addition to Terry’s post this week I found an interview with Alberto Cairo. In the interview, Alberto talks about changes in higher education:
What I saw happening in newspapers is awfully similar to what I am seeing in higher education: Drowsy institutions with inflexible procedures and obscure lore that are resistant to change just because they feel solidly rooted, stable, and essential. Why would you experiment when your current situation is so comfortable and your model has taken you a long way, up to the present? Because if you don’t seriously —let me stress the word seriously here— try to understand what all new developments, technologies, tools, are capable of, when one of them becomes the next big thing, you may suffer. It is not about burning your ships here; you need to keep using them in routine operations, after all. Instead, it is about taking a few of them and sending them to the open ocean to see if they find something useful. Most of them will be lost, but it may happen that one will stumble upon a treasure island.
I like the open ocean imagery. Yesterday, Stephen Downes was discussing opening doors.
I have been following Anil Dash’s discussions about the web. A couple of days ago he posted about rebuilding the web. In the post he talks about taking responsibility and accepting blame:
The biggest reason the social web drifted from many of the core values of that early era was the insularity and arrogance of many of us who created the tools of the time. I was certainly guilty of this, and many of my peers were as well. We took it as a self-evident and obvious goal that people would even want to participate in this medium, instead of doing the hard work necessary to make it a welcoming and rewarding place for the rest of the world. We favored obscure internecine battles about technical minutia over the hard, humbling work of engaging a billion people in connecting online, and setting the stage for the billions to come. To surpass the current generation of dominant social networks and apps, which have unsurprisingly become arrogant and inflexible during their own era of success, we’ll have to return to being as hungry and as humble as we were when the web was young. Because last time, we were both naive and self-absorbed enough that we deserved to fail.
I think that failure is a very important experience for game changers. It happens a lot when decision makers are unable to manage risk and prefer to avoid it.
I think game changers require great resilience. All the game changers I have met this year are self-evidently different. All of them have managed to overcome resistance to their vision. They all exhibit the characteristics of Sarah Horrigan’s learning technologists:
I think game changers are excellent communicators too. One of them, Charles Rosen, died last week. Earlier this year he wrote:
We do not learn language by reading a dictionary, and we do not think or speak in terms of dictionary definitions. Meaning is always more fluid. Nevertheless, we are hemmed in, even trapped, by common usage. Senses we wish to evade entrap us. The greatest escape route is not only humor, but poetry, or art in general. Art does not, of course, liberate us completely from meaning, but it gives a certain measure of freedom, provides elbow room.
I like the idea that the art of game changing creates elbow room and there are fluid ways to share vision.