Archives for posts with tag: logic

This well-known saying often attributed to French lawyer and politician Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin, highlights the balancing act required of politicians in our society but the behaviour of some, begs the question;

Are they truly our representatives or do they dance to their own tune?

In a representative democracy, politicians are sent to parliament or congress to put forward the views and aspirations of the people who elected them but once there, they must make laws for all citizens and there is where the problems can begin.

In most countries, elections are only held every 3-4 years so there is an inevitable lag between voter intent and political action, yet in the 21st century, the mood of the public has never been more evident to those in power. There are polls almost daily that seek to take the temperature of the electorate and these have shown that in most Western nations, the broader public has consistently proven to be ahead of governments on key social and even geopolitical issues, so why it is that more than a few elected representatives seem to be actively pulling in the opposite direction?

The 2016 election ‘circus’ in the US was ample evidence of this phenomenon with some candidates putting enormous effort in to being as far from the ‘mainstream’ (i.e. rational thinking) as possible but it is also apparent in Australia at present, where polls indicate that an important civil rights issue due to be put before a national referendum will pass with a significant majority, yet a number of politicians have already announced they will vote against the proposal, even if the nation votes in favour of it.

In a country where voting is compulsory and participation is close to 100%, the intent of the people is rarely in doubt, so how does their personal agenda even warrant a mention?

Notwithstanding that post the next election these folks will likely be unemployed,  there is in their behaviour, a cautionary note for us all. The GFC has painfully brought home the lesson that when people are entrusted with our money or granted authority over us, we must actively take an interest in what they are doing and saying and if they seem to be acting in their own interests rather than ours, we must hold them accountable.

As the old Russian proverb goes: “Trust but verify”. To do otherwise is asking for trouble.

The message for leaders? Staying in touch with your customers and your people is critical. If you are not paying attention they may change direction and you will be left running after them, trying to figure out what went wrong…


I have just been to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie which apart from being very enjoyable was a richly layered visual feast for a period adventure film. In fact it was the kind of film that you need to see more than once in order to pick up the many levels of detail. In discussing it afterwards with my partner, she reminded me of one of the concepts I have used for many years in my leadership work. To encourage leaders to avoid living, working and making decisions based on a surface appreciation of the workplace (or the world at large), I encourage my participants to watch a favourite DVD but rather than focussing on the main actors and the ‘A’ story, to focus on the background, the sets, the extras and so forth. It’s a bit tricky at first but once your brain gets used to it, it is remarkable what you can pick up. In contrast, our fast-paced world with its instant news and endless commentary makes it easy to be swept along with the tide of uninformed opinion (which is one of the reasons I avoid watching commercial television news). It seems that the sensation of every situation is ‘amped up’ in order to drive the viewer to the required conclusion. Current affairs programmes are worse. That tabloid newspapers are even worse still goes without saying but in essence, they seem to me to be hard at work to prevent us asking enough questions to challenge their presumption or conclusions regarding the subject being discussed. The move to ‘infotainment’ almost drives me to despair. Radio ‘personalities’ spout their (often factually incorrect) opinions and when their most egregious errors are pointed out – their excuse is that they are ‘commentators’ not journalists. Too late- damage done… The thing is, that life is always less simple than it appears. In this complex world we need more critical thinking. We need to teach our children to question what they are told and to ask for proof. We must set the example for them by questioning when they voice strong opinions, by offering alternative viewpoints and by challenging absolutes when offered. When I am confronted by a strong one-sided opinion, my practice is always to ask questions like ‘”Is that always the case?” or “Are you saying they’re all like that? All 1 billion?” or “Exactly how many times does that occur” or “Where did you find those statistics?” Very often it is obvious that emotion has supplanted reason. This is fine when watching a movie but not when living as a responsible human in the world. Conflict in most forms, results from assumptions, fear, stereotypes and a lack of rational thought. When people offer “That’s just what we believe” as a justification, I walk away. Living a superficial, unquestioning existence is not for me. The 99% that is hidden and that requires exploration and interest to enjoy -now that’s the juice. The exhilaration of discovery, of an opinion changed by a delicious experience; of the magnificent texture of an alternate perception that most miss – now that’s for me… So if you go and see Sherlock Holmes, focus on the background every now and then-you will see why…