In the podcast, Dr Malmgren describes leadership, not as climbing some big mountain (reaching some exponential goal or experiencing some massive event), but more like surfing.
That is, reacting quickly to complex, chaotic, uncertain events in real time and thinking on one’s feet, without drowning.
Not only is this a more realistic metaphor, it’s mentally more healthy. That’s because our reality is not defined by some big massive goal we hope to reach in the future, but in the here and now. To put it another way, our lives are not about waiting to be invited onto the yachts at some future glorious moment, but paddling away in our own canoe, right here, right now.
Companies are like people in this regard. They’re far more happy in the here and now, beavering away, than standing around waiting for some big-awesomely-important event to manifest itself at some unspecified moment in the future.
We are happiest in a state of flow. When the flow stops, we become miserable. We start watching the clock.
At the very end of The Watchman graphic novel, after a very dramatic “Third Act,” one of the main protagonists, Ozymandias aka ‘Adrian’ asks Dr. Manhattan, “I did the right thing, didn’t I? In the end.”
To which Dr. Manhattan replies, “‘In the end?’ Nothing ends, Adrian. Nothing ever ends.”
An idea far easier to understand while surfing a large wave, than standing on the summit of a large mountain.