I originally published this on another blog called Unleash Brilliance, but since that blog no longer exists and since I’ve had an insanely busy week, I thought I would republish it over here.
We are undoubtedly a nation of exceptional and brilliant individuals. We’re taught from an early age that we must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps (ala Horatio Alger) and lead the way through the darkness with our brilliant individualism. We are expected to live and learn DIY – Do It Yourself.
The problem for me, though, is that I am not wholly convinced that rugged individualism can ever be a path to true brilliance.
Don’t get me wrong . . . I don’t mean to send the message that we should be sheep who all follow in the path of the dimmest and lowest common denominator. At the same time, though, we should not simply be rugged individuals who go it alone! True brilliance can only come when we act in concert with other outstanding individuals.
Now, we are living in the midst of some of the most profound change in the history of human beings, and much of this change has come from the amazing creative power of individuals. The pace at which our world is transforming is mind-blowing!
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Undoubtedly, though, with all of this change comes an incredible number of challenges. The foundations of capitalism as we know it are shaken if not crumbling. War andpoverty are expanding at incredible rates (even as the standard of living rises for an huge number of people). The gap between rich and poor is widening. The education system in the U.S. is in shambles. Global Climate Change stands as probably the greatest threat human beings have ever faced.
These are global challenges that call for global solutions. I’ve been incredibly privileged to have traveled the world, and no matter where I’ve gone, one thing has always held true. From Sao Paolo to Beijing, from San Jose to Jerusalem, each and every person I meet is bursting with brilliance. However, in the face of such incredible challenges, we cannot afford to rely on the creativity and solutions of individuals.
Therein lies the rub . . . as profound as it may be, the brilliance of individuals is also profoundly limited. When I first wrote that, I thought to myself, “Dang . . . that’s kind of depressing!” As I have thought further about it, though, I find it to be the opposite. That may be one of the most hopeful statements that I have ever written!
Upon further reflection, I find hope in the limits of individual brilliance because it means that we must rely on each other! We must reach out, take the hands of those around us, and work in beautiful concert to overcome the seemingly-insurmountable obstacles of our time!
You see . . . the thing about my individual brilliance is that when it is brought into the radius of another brilliant individual, it is amplified . . . 100,000,000 times! Now, I am not much of a mathematician, but when you put a group of brilliant individuals together in a room and harness their energy, that exponential math adds up to incredible. That math blows my mind. I cannot even comprehend the brilliant power for positive change that comes from two, four, twenty-four, two hundred and forty thousand powerful individuals working together to realize a better world.
That, in short, is the brilliant power of relationships.