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Rob Pieters

I think the point is being overshadowed by Nazi Germany being used as an example. The truth is that everything starts with vision. Without a vision, organizations and societies are left with either existing leadership sustaining the status quo or worse, a void. Nature hates a void. All voids will be filled with any inspiring or charismatic leader; good or evil.

Blake Mycoskie, founder and CEO of Toms Shoes, has a vision. But it isn't only a vision; it is a vision built on a mission. Toms Shoes' mission is to, "show how together, we can create a better tomorrow by taking compassionate action today." Certainly this is a powerful mission. A mission people can stand behind. Toms Shoes' One-for-One vision, to provide shoes to children in need, helps to keep the children healthier and gives them more opportunity to end poverty. Toms gave away their one millionth pair of shoes in September 2010.

By the way, I'm not associated with Toms Shoes in any way; just think the company is doing amazing things.


I think vision is not the problem. The countries you mentioned, their leaders usually have a vision of where they want to have the country during the term.

The problem, I guess, is that people do not know how to make sacrifices in order to achieve this vision (which they agree with most of the time). Sacrifices like paying a bigger tax or working odd jobs or learning more to be disciplined when they are in the government offices so that they could perform well.

People want change. Want to achieve their vision. But they are not willing to pay the price.

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It's just a bad idea to use Germany as an example. Better to focus on healthcare. Yes, everyone would like better healthcare that nobody has to pay for. I say yes that myself. But in reality, no good solution has been found in the world to keep the bottomless pit of technology out of the live healthy and pain free business. My father has two different technologies embedded in his chest to watch over his heart 24/7. My view is that his insurance was more comprehensive than his younger 4 siblings now past on. If your why is just to live longer, that may be a less noble why than society needs to focus on. Though I'm sure the doctors are just trying to help.


For anyone shocked by the implications here, I would encourage you to dive into the topic and read and read and read. It is alarming, as it should be, where our culture is heading. But alas, an optimist myself, I find the battle thrilling as I seek out and link arms with others that wish to change the tide and raise up a culture of leaders. I've found many, many such people in the LIFE leadership community led by #6 & #12 leadership gurus Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady. Simon, you should check out their work, you three seem to have some common goals of inspiring, educating, and "Giving us something to work towards, something big, and we will build it".

Alex S.

Hi Simon,

Today I watched a replay of your keynote address at the World Conference on Quality and Improvement (WQCI), and I was inspired to seek out your website.

In your keynote speech, you talked about the difference between 'leaders' who manipulate people oither throught the promise of reward, or the threat of punishment, compared to leaders that inspire followers to do their best.

That commentary, coupled with the discussion here on whether troubled economies are truly functional democracies reminded me of a few days I spent in Cairo, Egypt in October 2010 - a few months before the revolution started in February 2011.

Admittedly, we were Western tourists travelling in a Western bubble, shuttling between tourist sites in a hired car, but even we could tell the tension was THICK. People on the streets walks with their heads down, and riot police stood by at Friday prayers to disperse the masses and close the mosques the minute prayers were over, ostensibly to prevent religious extremism from taking hold.

The military state used fear to manipulate its citizens, and to keep the population in line.

The results were two-fold: first, law-abiding citizens did as they were told, kept their heads down, and went about their lives without protest - and without organizing a credible opposition, since opposition was outlawed - until they could not take it any more.

Second, the organizations that HAD been outlawed under the old regime, but that had maintained their organizations in secret, were 'ready to go' when their opposition disappeared. These organizations dominated 'democratic' elections because of their existing networks, and secured their 'leadership' by manipulating the people once again, at first through inducements (medical care, and neighbourhood security), but also threats of ostracism, division and also violence.

The point is that in any democracy, (Egypt, Greece (who invented democracy) and the US) 'bad' groups can court power by tapping into disillusionment with the status quo, and identifying scapegoats, or 'enemies' to blame.

The point that you made in your keynote was that eventually the cost of fear becomes too high. People stop buying, and look for the alternative. What surprises me, in Greece and the US, is that with the opportunity for a democratic change before them, it seems the candidates have only fear to offer.


Because it's easier to blame some external force for your problems than take responsability.


I think I will also have to disagree about the United States being a vibrant democracy. But I think it is also true that any democracy cannot be vibrant unless the term is meant pejoratively. In a democracy, the largest group uses the law to enslave everyone else, and to call slavery liberty is obviously the wrong way to go about things.

I also hope that when it is said that struggling countries need a vision, the idea is not that it be enforced by the government. The vision of some leader or legislator may not be my vision (or your vision, or anyone's vision), and it seems like terrible transgression of my liberty to be forced by law to sacrifice my time, energy, and resources for some nationalistic project that's supposed to give my life direction.

Are citizens so helpless that they cannot make decisions for themselves? Are they unable to set their own particular goals? Can they not have their own particular visions? What does a society know, anyway? I submit that it's nothing. There is no unified thing that is a society. A society is a composite of people, and people can have knowledge. But a society is not an entity of its own and should not be considered as such. If it is so considered, individuals, the only ones with any real value, will be crushed for "the good of society."

Since society has no collective identity or unity, it makes no sense to say it have visions, goals, or knowledge. As such, what is needed is individual liberty, so that people can determine their own future and their own goals. If others wish to subject themselves to the vision of others, that is their concern. But those people have no right to impose, though the heavy hand of the government, that vision on those who do not wish to participate.

Don Schulte

"Faces of the Enemy" by Sam Keen. This book digs deep into the psychology of creating enemies needed to for humans to act inhumane.


Everyone needs to stop arguing about whether or not we are nazi krauts, we worship the environment no? We need a unifying issue, mine? Put a man on mars. "by the year 2020 we will put a man on mars". It carries more emphasis when you say it like JFK. #micdrop

monika hardy

a vision we have been intensely co-creating over the last 4 years.
one we now boldly share.

why.. we believe it's a narrative every soul craves.

it's from the inside out.. starting with why. talking to yourself daily.. am I doing/being (eudaimonia.. fittingness) what matters most.

you decide. use your head/heart/gut/etal.

if you are so inclined:


Hi Simon,

For one terrible minute, I thought you'd leave out the US from your insightful piece. Thank God you didn't.

By the way, even Accountants are getting it the message now — take a look here and then click their 'Our WHY' piece (bottom left of their site). I describe it as 'Perfect Simon'. Hope you like it: www.btandcocpa.com

Also hope Australia went well for you.

Paul Dunn at B1G1.


Hej John,

Nice comment and it made me think. But I do not see what you see from Simon's blog post.

First, I question your view that Greece and USA are vibrant democracies. I see the USA much more of a plutocracy today than a democracy. The strongest evidence I have for this was when 70% of the population were for the National Healthcare plan but the House of Representatives were still fighting it tooth and nail, from both parties. The senate I could understand, but the congress no. In this situation, the elected officials were not serving the people that voted them in, They were serving the people that paid for their campaign. So I think the adjective vibrant is a bit false here. The USA may be considered a democracy because people can still vote freely and fairly, but a "vibrant" democracy is overstating it a bit.

As for Greece, I am not as compentent to judge, but it is clear some political officials did not act for the people of Greece, and just out right lied to their partner nations. So I think calling Greece a "vibrant" democracy is an overstatement as well.

If you want, I will accept great socities, or made great people, or still have the potential to create greatness in the world. But I just can not accept the label "vibrant" democracy for either country, it is an insult to countries that actually do have a"vibrant" democracy.

I supppose your upset, that Simon chose to compare these countries to what many in the west consider, "evil". I mean how dare he. But, I do not think he is trying to say either the USA or Greece are going to turn into racial cleansing terroristic dictatorships. But rather these 2 great societies are vulnerable to some very negative vision scenarios. They will not be a Nazi vision. Nor will they be an Al Qaeda vision. But they will be a negative one and one that could hurt these 2 socities even more than they are today, if strong leadrship with a postive vision does not present itself and take control soon. If you watched the European Football championship this year, the background story there was how strong racism still is, especially in the countries with the most financial stress. So I think it is a absolutly fair that Simon make the case he has made, however much we dislike being compared to Nazi Germany or the Al Qeada vision in the middle east. And I think the issue is very much the ingredients that go into the making of such regimes. To think the USA or Greece could not succumb to a downward spiral like Nazi Germany is pure arrogance.

Otherwise, I liked what you wrote. As I said it made me think and question you and Simon. :)


I like what this has to say.

I think people, including me,
spend far too much time worrying whether or not we have friends
or enemies
around us
when the question we should be asking ourselves isn't
"Do we have friends or enemies around us?".
It's "Am I serving?"


@John - Often times civilizations who are brought to their knees by poor economic policy turn to a dictator with promises of delivering them from their dismal experience. That's not to say that's what Greece or the US or any republic for that matter would necessarily do, but it is a requirement for a dictatorship to unfold.

Those who would sacrifice their liberty in exchange of security deserve neither. (Ben Franklin paraphrased).


Hi Simon,

I think it's not fair to put Greece, and the US, both vibrant democracies,in the same bag as Nazi Germany and Arab dictatorships.

Yes, they have economic challenges, but both countries have a vision which is very different from the Nazies and Middle Eastern dictatorships.

The act of finding a common enemy isn't a privilege of evil regimes. These regimes, from the Nazis to Al Qaeda, have a vision, we might not agree with it but they do have a very clear one.

Finding a common enemy is what every tribe does to keep the vision alive, the US fights to promote democracy in the world, that's a vision both Republicans and Democrats can agree on.

So the issue isn't about not having a vision and finding an enemy but rather choosing the wrong enemy.

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