Make trouble for yourself. That’s the tip we give to Power Lab grads as they are preparing to return home. The challenge, however, lies not in making trouble, but in dealing with trouble when it shows up. And it will show up. To paraphrase Trotsky: You may not be interested in trouble, but trouble is interested in you.
Paradoxically, trouble often shows up as the outgrowth of our most inspiring visions. The economist, Albert O. Hirschman pointed to the creativity that emerged as promising projects faced unforeseen crises (trouble) that threatened to doom them. The multi-million-dollar East Pakistan paper mill that had planned on producing paper from the vast available bamboo forests only to have the bamboo unexpectedly flower and die! Now what? The disaster turned into a huge success as a variety of creative solutions were developed in response to the crisis. Nietzche: “That which does not destroy me, makes me stronger.”Projects often fail, Hirschman maintained, because planners would focus on eliminating challenge. He is skeptical, however, of our willingness to choose crises:
“The only way we can bring our resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity than it will turn out to be.” Then – bang! – out of the blue comes trouble.
Hirschman’s work brought to mind Kanter’s Law: Everything looks like a failure in the middle. Kanter: “Everyone loves inspiring beginnings and happy endings; it is just the middles that involve hard work.”
The Worldwide Week of Partnership is an inspirational vision. Hundreds of Organization Workshop trainers across the globe conducting free programs for educational, charitable, and service organizations in their local communities. Bringing awareness to the pain and loss stemming from failed partnerships and the promise of successful ones. That’s the inspiring beginning - routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity - and then comes the middle…
So what lessons to derive from this? Avoid inspiring visions; they’ll only lead to trouble? Or pursue your vision and expect and be prepared to deal with the inevitable trouble along the way.
My vision for the Power Lab: To prepare you to reach for greater contributions in your life, while strengthening you to deal with whatever trouble comes your way.