“Coffee with some aliens…” Ian Donnelly in “Arrival”, an incredible movie about the aliens coming to help Earth, why (?), because …well that would give the plot away, and we don’t do that, do we? For my many readers who aren’t movie buffs, this one is available in a short story form by Ted Chiang. An elemental version, “Story of Your Life”, is about physically halfway through the gathered short stories- I’m not certain that the book has to be consumed chronologically; instead I almost get the feeling that it’s somewhat analogous to God saying to John, in the Revelation of Christ given on the Isle at Patmos; “here eat this scroll”. What happens to the mind that is stretched? My ex brother in law, a micro structural physicist, who was much easier to understand after a few beers; laughed and laughed when I explained to him that cognitive science figured the experience to being much like that of a rubber band, once it’s stretched it doesn’t return to precisely the same shape. He laughed because he said that was, “typical of you Dana, you’ll buy into any theory that allows you to continue to think like you are”. At which point in his first beer, I only marginally disliked him, and sort of identified with what God said to John about the scroll, “it will taste sweet at first, but when it hits your stomach, it will be bitter”. This word to John was very similar to the same statement in the Old Testament, and it is certainly true about how some information affects our tummy; what was making mine bitter in this conversation is comprehending he didn’t know about synapses, he might understand atoms; he might even understand muons, but he was lost as a goose when it came to the brain, synapses and knowledge, he should grow up.
Economic Development is very much like the language which Chiang goes into some detail about. The aliens did their best to communicate that it was different from what people might expect. So is the process of growing a small business. The most dominant problem to small business is that small business owners tend to believe that they don’t need any assistance. Hopefully because they have some success, such belief can turn into an upward spiral of success. The difficulty with such a spiral is that it is deceptive only they don’t know it. They are technically ill advised, because they haven’t become familiar with a different language that knows the upward spiral contains a bitter end, because that bitter end is preventable; like the friendly aliens they will discover the functions which create it aren’t controlled. That’s a pretty big scroll to swallow so most small business owners would rather have temporary success than prepare for a long war, they prefer to think tactically and ignore the strategic dangers of not having the necessary knowledge of those trained in economic development. This would be a real problem if we moved into the future three years where they start to see their fail points, it becomes even more obvious at the five year mark, where the painful realization is, they should have sucked in their prideful ways, asked for some guidance and consulting, then this place of pain they’ve arrived at would be mitigated. They don’t and the real shame lies not just with their arrogance, but with their arrogant leaders who have chosen themselves to ignore the much larger danger inherit in ignoring such wisdom. If this were just your local community it would be a problem, but this level of stupid has gone out all across the country where guided business implementation is at an all-time low- while we’re clambering for new entrepreneurs, we’re close to opposing up.
Imagining a perfect storm, like the Old Testament prophets, or John the revelator; isn’t natural. Chiang’s delivery in the “Story of Your Life, that became a hit movie, isn’t natural. His story, their story; our story, takes us dangerously close to the edge of absolute failure. Trying to explain to those who choose to smile while they are cooking in the pot is like so many frogs’ thrown in the cold water; as it heats they stretch out and cook, look around, yes we have plenty to smile about, but that may only mean we’re cooking? Here’s the danger, as John ate the scroll, it pictographically emphasized a gaining of knowledge that previously he’d not had? The result of that knowledge, discomfort, a stressed out “bitter “stomach the result of which becomes some amazing visions, and yet, at the end of it all John says we have hope. The Old Testament prophets proclaimed to the nation Israel that as individuals who had forgotten what it meant to repent, they were going to become slaves; they would reach a level where they didn’t even care about their children. Thank goodness we’re not like that! But even in that dark image of the Old Testament prophecy of a national level doom, they still proclaimed that nevertheless the people could have hope, they would not end that way. Chiang shows how our belief about nice aliens might be a mistake, because often we mistake our own internal motives as others belief systems, creating a danger. It’s nice knowing as you read this you aren’t like that; do you know someone who is? They need to human up.
It’s easy to say in the United States we have a leadership problem; because, it’s obvious. The level of false productivity proclaimed by the mass of false executive leaders in this nation is astonishing. Not only have they as upper level managers failed to take the production of excellence to heart, but they’ve learned how to fake it, as they go to the golf course and hit a few holes to relax, reinforcing that their level of selfish over indulgence doesn’t register with them. The enormous cost of this delusion is hitting us; it’s a very bitter scroll indeed as we see business after business fail. We have seen it in the nonchalant failure to lead by mentorship, so obvious in the ignoring of the young around us who aren’t asked to become engaged. We ignore them, even though, we know if they aren’t trained they cannot know how to lead, much less how to create active leadership and creative leadership? Yet we bury our heads about this behavior and ignore the young, ignore mentoring, leave alien behaviors with new languages; to become bitter scrolls so we can ignore our futures as the heat under the pot goes up.
Dr. Dana C. Richardson, Th. D. drd4u.co & Dr. Steve Broe, bestselling author of, “Leaders in Transition.”