Idealism vs. Reality – when trying to change the world

A leader should have the right blend of idealism tempered by reality.

I have grand plans. I intend to change the world. Teaching people how to stop bullies with science and compassion (and yes it works – read my book The Bully Vaccine to learn more), can have a tremendous positive impact on our society.

Imagine if no child were bullied. What would those kids who would otherwise be traumatized be like as adults.  Imagine if no child every learned to bully because their peers shut it down in the early grades. What would those kids be like as adults? What would society be like?

This may seem like a pipe dream. And yes, it’s the ideal. What would the world be like if ... that’s the ideal.  In order to make that a reality, I have to have a strategy. And that strategy needs to be based in reality. What is feasible? What is possible? How much is this going to cost? Where will I get the money? How can I, me, little ole me without any help, teach every parent in America how to teach their kids how to stop bullying.

Well, when I put it that way, it seems unrealistic. Except that it isn’t. Most parents work and workplaces give them training. Specifically a large number of American adults receive sexual harassment training biannually. What would happen IF that training taught them not just that harassment is against the law so don’t do it. But what IF that training also taught them how to actually stop harassing behavior using behavioral science?  WE would not only be teaching them how to handle difficult people for real, we would also be teaching them the skills they need to be teaching their kids.  Suddenly my idealist vision is gaining realistic clarity.  It’s actually doable.

So why am I sharing my business plan in grand form with you here? Well, because IF you are in charge of providing sexual harassment training to your staff, I want you to consider me. Not only will you get an awesome training, but your staff will actually thank you for it as well. I mean really – it would be nice if the harassment training actually taught people how to STOP harassment. Right? (details at:

The other reason I wanted to share this with you has to do with your goals as a humanistic leader. I don’t want to be a leader for the sake of being a leader. I am a leader because I want to make the world a better place.  I’m driven to do so and, while I’m clearly a cock-eyed optimist, I’m also a realist. I can see what needs to be done to make my vision a reality. The rest of it is convincing other people to join me. That’s where leadership comes in.

In order to be a leader, you have to have people willing to follow you. To get them to follow you, you have to know not only WHERE  you are going, but WHY you are going there and most importantly HOW you plan to get there and WHO you want to have help you get there.

I capitalized the important words so you can see them more clearly. Notice they are question words. WHERE/WHAT, WHY, HOW and WHO! If you don’t have an answer to those questions, people won’t follow you. To get answers to those questions, you need to be both idealistic and realistic. And that’s what makes a great leader.

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