As we look at the people who lead us or want to lead us, we must ask ourselves, “Is this the best we can do?” The next ten years will present us with moral, political, economic, military and spiritual issues no one has ever faced. But it seems like all of the people in charge are just wrestling with their own underwear. Flailing. The problem is leadership failure. Everywhere.
The world needs a new version of leadership. Just like software that needs to be updated to run more complex applications, we are in desperate need of an update. Leadership 1.0 worked in a natural world of hunter-gatherers. Leadership 2.0 brought us agriculture, cities and trade. Leadership 3.0 brought us the industrial revolution. It increased human productivity over 100 times in 100 years. But we are now victims of our own success, drowning in consumption that is literally consuming our future.
Leadership 4.0 is a new thought system. It has bigger goals, better methods and new incentives. It is not focused on sharing scarcity but creating sustainable abundance. It is not about compromise; it is the vision to optimize. To create a world with the greatest opportunity for happiness and least suffering for the most people. But it requires new “mental software.” Today we have presidential candidates that are twisting in the wind of 3.0 thinking. They have glossy words but weak ideas. They’re stuck in the little political box of what’s possible. But we will only get a sustainable future by doing the impossible. Whenever we have had to step up to greatness, we’ve established core priorities and then unleashed the ingenuity of citizens. Here are some priorities I believe are vital:
1. We are literally on the verge of economically harnessing clean renewable energy. Half-measures are just that. If we decided we have to be out of the oil import business in 10 years, we would figure it out. We must over-invest in the solution now. Doing so will save our economy and the world and get us out of the Middle East. Nothing else will. (If you think this is too optimistic, check out the 100-mile per gallon SUVs at FastCompany.com.)
2. We must educate all of our children to thrive in the 21st century. We still teach our children like the Greeks did 5000 years ago. Today, every student should be taught by the world’s greatest teachers. They easily could today via multimedia. Classes should look like the Discovery Channel, and students should put what they’re learning into practice by doing projects together. Live teachers should become tutors and mentors to make up for the collapse of the supportive family. We could do all this today. (See what George Lucas is doing with education at edutopia.com.)
3. We can only offer universal healthcare when there is universal health. If we don’t stop the escalation of health costs we will tax ourselves to death. The fastest way to reduce cost is to reduce demand. We must eat healthy, exercise and sleep. We should tax the food manufacturers who create artificial foods that poison us. If people what to slowly kill themselves, they should pay extra for the “food” that makes them sick. Meanwhile, we need to have incentives for healthy, sustainable food production and reward healthy lifestyles. (Look at the Human Performance Institute.)
4. We need to focus our economy away from consumption and toward producing value. We should promote 3 new world saving industries. 1) Zero waste manufacturing that will eventually build things out of atoms and molecules instead of iron, ore, lumber, and minerals. 2) Physical and mental health. Eradicate disease and end dementia. 3) We need to educate the world. Today there are more illiterate human beings than at anytime in history. Using technology and tutors for all cultures every human could give the gift of education to all.
If our economy reformed itself on producing value instead of buying foreign junk at Wal-Mart, our children’s future would transform. If we focused our public policy to encourage the dynamic investment of these 3 vital “industries for human abundance,” we could become the society we wish we were. (To learn more about sustainable manufacturing visit the Rocky Mountain Institute.)
Meanwhile, the “big, bold” idea I hear is the promise to cut CO2 emissions by 80% in 40 years. Or that 20% of our energy needs will come from clean sources by 2025. Hello. By then it’s all too late. My challenge to all you wannabe presidents: Wake up, step up, and offer us a new direction. Real vision. I’ve got eight grandchildren depending on it.