Growing Our Human Potential

What are the biggest obstacles to solving the world’s problems?

Step back for a moment and consider the current state of humanity. How would you describe it in terms of the good, the bad, and the ugly? What did you come up with?

Chances are you came up with a good list for each category, and probably with a tilt towards more bad and ugly conditions. That is natural since we are prone to focus more on the negative. A great conversation in itself. The reality is that there are a number of key issues happening across the world that is stalling the evolution of humanity and having a negative impact on many individuals. We could probably argue this somewhat, but I have found that most are on the same page. Okay, now what?

Recognizing the problems that exist, problem-solving allows us to identify potential causes (symptoms) and ultimately root causes (what you need to fix in order to fully resolve the problem). What would you consider to be the causes for the problems you came up with? Although there are causes that are unique to each problem, focus on the causes that are associated with all of these problems (e.g. common root causes).

Having conducted this exercise several times, common causes for many include time, resources, money, and a lack of priority. When we drill these down using the “Five-Whys” method to define root cause (about Five-Whys), the result is typically, “A Lack of Consideration or Care”. Why is this? For most individuals, our lives are busy raising families, keeping our job, enjoying life, and dealing with our own challenges. And there are also those who simply do not care.

Second, this also refers to Leadership, including Company and Political leadership. This is again primarily due to a lack of consideration or care, which for company leaders is similar to individuals in that their time is consumed with issues related to running their company and/or may not care. For political leaders, it is the lack of public opinion and pressure on these topics that result in the lack of consideration or care.

Presuming we identified the right root cause, A Lack of Consideration or Care, the next step is to identify possible solutions to solve the root causes. This is where the conversation becomes quite challenging. There is overall acceptance that there are various individuals, groups, non-profits and foundations providing focus to the many different issues that exist, which does indeed help and to varying degrees. But how do we improve upon individuals and leaders lack of consideration or care? Let’s approach this for each.

Individuals (John Q Public). As a member of this group, I am the first to admit that managing the daily activities associated with my family and job consumes most of my waking hours. I am compassionate and recognize the issues, yet used to going to bed frustrated that I cannot make any real contribution or difference. What I can do is be aware of the issue and make any small contributions based on my own actions (e.g. recycle items, be more aware and sensitive, change a behavior, make a small donation, etc.).

What helps individuals primarily to take action are, 1) public policy, laws, and activities that provide education, support, enforcement and funding to deal with these issues locally, and 2) volunteer opportunities. There are always some who commit more time and effort to a cause, making time to make a difference. This is probably the extent that we can ask of the public based on what we mentioned above.

Company Leaders (CEO’s). These are the individuals who have the largest impact on the company culture (behaviors and norms). More often than not, if they are interested in a particular issue, than this will become a focus for the company. Their own personal involvement will further increase attention and involvement from their employees on these issues. The key words are “if they are interested” that determine what, if any, involvement in social issues they and therefore the company will contribute to.

What can help greater involvement on the part of company leaders, and therefore their employees, would be greater collaboration between company leaders who decide to collectively work on specific issues. One example I recall was the Ice Bucket Challenge, where CEO’s drenched themselves with ice water to benefit a foundation (Ice Water Challenge). The challenge comes with how to influence more of these joint activities amongst company leaders. I was inspired by Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, which provided examples of how companies unleashed their employees to work on social issues on company time. What a great opportunity for company leaders to consider.

Political Leaders (Country, State, Local leaders typically voted into this position). I had my own experience in politics with a four-year political appointment. Needless to say, I am not a big fan of politics primarily due to the bureaucracy and power systems in place that dictate what was important and what was not. The one pain point that is effective relates to increasing public sentiment, opinion and pressure which may put in jeopardy the political leader’s ability to get re-elected and/or satisfaction ratings, which provokes action.

What can help greater involvement on the part of political leaders is therefore public opinion. We recently observed in this year’s presidential election the effort to grow public opinion which drew record numbers to the polls. What the public deems as important and collectively shows up in numbers, and are sustained and appeal to the public, can influence greater focus on the part of their political leaders. The Black Lives Matter movement is an example of this.

The other element associated with political leaders that could influence greater focus, resources and activity are groups like the G-Summits, World Health Organization, and United Nations. Although there has been some action coming out of these groups, it appears largely talk and no action. We simply are not prone to operate collectively and collaboratively. Instead our focus is more on competition and gamesmanship.

I believe there can be, and will be, improved methods to prioritize and focus on key global and local issues as we improve our ability to work collaboratively and collectively. The issues facing humanity today will require greater focus and attention in the near future to minimize the impact from these issues. It will take a new type of leader to promote and support this. That is why, in my humble opinion, that I believe the number one thing we can do to help solve the growing complexity and scope of issues we are facing today, is to change our model of leadership, which will be the focus of my next post.

Thanks for listening and contributing what you can.

About Me

Michael is an award winning author, speaker, facilitator and coach on the topics of Personal Growth & Self-Discovery. Visit my website for more information ( You can contact Michael via LinkedIn Messenger or via

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