The promise of making a better tomorrow always begins with a lie regarding the reality of today. We want something that is not yet true, but better than what is already here. And something that is not yet true is a present tense lie. Especially when said with conviction.
That conviction is the only hope for the innovator, the social worker, the entrepreneur, the philanthropist, or even the shaman to become relevant in creating better truths we all need. We begin with lies we want to believe in and then hopefully get off our backsides of a promise and make them real:
You going to make it rain? Ok, let's see you do it today. Or by whenever you say you can!
There is a moral calculus between temporal and enduring lies. This comes with risks that few of us ever wish to be found wholly accountable for when landing somewhere between them, but all of us desire to become high achievers. So we must calculate and project a currently false but hopefully soon to be true statement of a better reality to come. Too few of us rise to that ambition and do so.
One reason is that most of us prefer wiggle room by vague abstractions or imprecise promises. We shy away from clear cut results to be expected by a deadline date. The easier and safer path of best efforts is much safer to trod. And if you do hedge well you can still be elected as the underwhelming politician for a bureaucrats skill of turning great possibilities into less certain or enviable outcomes.
The mantras of such decelerated ambition and less progress are common everywhere, "it's a race without a finish line", or "we're doing the good work", or "this is so necessary and meaningful". Blandness of mind leads to the corrosive acid of complacency that curdles even the freshest hearts hoping to help. And in response to this complacency we bestow false humility and gratitude.
Instead of complacency take courage with confusing creative liars with the highest achievers at the outset of their boasting--they do sound alike. They reveal themselves immediately after the talking is finished and the action begins: those that can call their shots then set about making them, and those that can't, can't. The highest achievers are the ones with clear vision about what is not yet true. And clarity is the clarion call that activates all capacities needed to make any greater vision accelerate into living results.
We need more ambitious folks to call out greater visions and make them real. The timid among us might not take solace that humility is rarely part of the great visionary and result driver's rhetoric. Some rebuke such clarity as arrogance, I embrace it as the potential harbinger of cultivated skills for results to follow. So instead of chaffing at boastful rhetoric, listen for and celebrate clearly targeted progress milestones that lead others towards even higher performing results regardless of the wrappings they come in:
The Babe Ruths of our day will also be able to defy the pitch of the status quo, point to the fences and then swing for them.
We each decide which is the more valuable quality to acknowledge, encourage and bet upon: humility and arrogance in pursuit of better results are mutually exclusive dispositions that matter in more than just form. One welcomes stable endurance of the status quo, the other intentionally upsets, overturns and seeks actively to upgrade it.
We need more of this well targeted arrogance because there is endless supply of mediocre ambitions circulating among us, constantly proclaiming difficulty of control as justification for underperforming potentials. In such a world view only humble explanations about the world's, the nations', the communities', the households' and even the individuals' problems are possible, not actions that solve them. And yet to what end results can we credit such enduring patience? Not much from what I can see, especially when you add up all the spending that pays for that endemic humility:
We already employ ~ 15 million people in the USA that consume $1.1 trillion to spend $300 billion in grants every year to solve social problems. This is a great employment program for white collar migrant workers, but unfortunately we can't find many other significant signs of $1.4 trillion in expense driving enough social improvements to justify the magnitude of this ongoing tax free largesse.
And so our world can and will endure more humbleness as an excuse for non-progress, but it desperately needs more of the unabashed, highly ambitious, cranky, impatient and mildly arrogant individuals with bigger lies about better results for a preferable reality we all can share and act on today, not tomorrow. And we must be willing to acknowledge, accept, support and crown these heros where they are able to make those boasts and better lies real.
So please lie to me and make it compelling, then let's see you do it.
[*A.C. Moore was the winningest collegiate soccer coach in US history throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s. The fact that soccer was being played competitively at all in US colleges during that time was also a victory.]