Thursday, November 18, 2010

Action is what manifests a choice amongst infinite possibilities [Corinne Rattay]

I listen a lot to people in leadership positions, many of them being senior management in high-tech companies. What they tell me are stories of lack of empowerment, of how they "felt stuck" between "too clear" directions from a powerful GM, CTO or CEO and, on the other side, their Engineering organizations, remote or local. I'm borrowing some of their words here.

In fact, these senior Engineering leaders knew what wasn't working and what needed to happen to move their teams out of burnout, general frustration or acceptance of mediocrity. I'm sure you have experienced or seen situations such as this one. Their main problem was the same as what we see in nature all the time. Things remain as they are for usually a very long time until, one day, something new happens. A different idea, a new concept, a quantum leap. Who knows what I'm talking about?

We've noticed that quantum leaps happen as soon as a "catalyst" comes into play. I won't go into the details whether the catalyst is purely passive (as in a chemical reaction) or on the contrary very active inside the company into which he or she was brought in by the senior Engineering leader who finally has had the courage to step up and yell, at least in his or her imagination, "enough is enough, things have to change now!".

The truth is that action is what manifests a choice. Our world is a wonderful creation of infinite possibilities. As Albert Einstein had already taught us so well about the relativity of all things, even of time and space, I firmly believe that there is no absolute right or wrong. Everything must be seen from one or another perspective and it is futile to look for an absolute or so called "objective" perspective. Out of all the possibilities of how situations can evolve, humans have a tendency of wishing for a change in one way or another. Let's call it a "desire".

There's nothing wrong with having desires, actually this is a good thing since doing so drives imagination. And "imagination is more important than knowledge", as was adequately remarked by Albert Einstein also a long time ago.

So what is the key message to understand here? It is that action, yes, even a simple little action, done consistently from this moment onward, is the first step of manifesting a choice and moving towards a desire which we have. It's that simple: nothing changes from knowledge or imagination alone, but it is action that sets things apart.

The moment that we decide to act despite fear rather than waiting for the fear to go away or for the right moment to come (trust me it never will), this is when we set change into motion. What is it that you as a leader would like to change, specifically, and what are you waiting for?


Corinne Rattay works with senior hi-tech executives on strategic leadership, breakthrough communication and effective execution, helping her clients to achieve extraordinary results. She can be reached at or at