Sunday 7 December 2008

Shinseki: Embracing change to remain relevant

I heard it hit me

Rarely do I have a situation where I hear something on television and I feel like I have been hit by the volume behind the light in a tunnel long before I knew what was coming.

The more I warm up to the idea of a President Obama the more I find an element of almost unhealthy scepticism asking me to re-evaluate my reluctant fascination.

What threw me was the statement he made on Wednesday the 26th of November 2008 as everyone with a comment to make was going on about his cabinet being made up of Clintonian old-hands rather than new faces representing the mantra of change [1] that exemplified his campaign.

Change comes from me

He said, “Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost, it comes from me. That's my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure then that my team is implementing.” [2], [3]

This man exudes confidence; that is an understatement, he exudes supreme confidence – even if his tenure ends up a nominal failure, I would suggest it would still be considerably better the tenures of many presidents before him.

In fact, for the times and situation in which the world finds itself, I suppose we can only agree that this is a man who has arrived at the right time to lead the world in a direction that might well fulfil some unravelling destiny.

The best brain before Iraq

If any of the appointments are causing concern including that of Hillary Clinton, I think that one that should make everyone think again is the pending appointment of General Eric Ken Shinseki [4] as the Secretary-designate for Veteran Affairs [5].

He clashed with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld [6] over the necessary troop levels of the war in Iraq and was pensioned off almost into ignominy as the “neocons” pursued their debacle in Iraq to a point of embarrassing disgrace that things had to change.

Between change and irrelevance

What makes General Eric Shinseki more significant to me is buried within a statement that has defined a number of career development and life changing goals that I have embarked upon.

I came across this in Tom Peter’s Re-Imagine [7], “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” [8] This statement was made by General Eric Shinseki when he was the Chief of Staff of the United States Army.

This statement has been highly paraphrased and sometimes plagiarised by many; in fact, I just noted that I had used it in at least 6 of my blogs.

I have learnt that if I am to remain relevant in a changing world I have to find ways of adapting to change and even embracing the change such that I am not swept away into irrelevance and oblivion but engaged in remaining significant, relevant, understanding and effecting even better change.

Represents relevance

The kind of thinking that General Shinseki had then was later on considered to be right all along, if there is a regime that embodies the concept of change in order to remain relevant and instrumental to even greater change for good things in the future, there could have been no better choice than to have General Eric Shinseki in President Obama’s cabinet.

The fact that he is a homeboy from Hawaii is completely beside the point, I have been inspired by his thinking and bringing him back into the mainstream can only be additional proof of the kind of visionary President Obama intends to be.

I have embraced change in order not be irrelevant, I wonder if you have thought of what you need to do to remain relevant at home, at work, in your community and in the world at large.


[1] Barack Obama Quotes - Barack!

[2] Obama Defends Cabinet: The Change Will Come From Me

[3] Obama says change is in his vision _ if not appointments - Yahoo! News

[4] Eric Shinseki - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] Obama to nominate ex-general Shinseki to head Veterans Affairs - Yahoo! News

[6] Donald Rumsfeld - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[7] tompeters! management consulting leadership training development project management

[8] Tom Peters’ Excellence: The Relentless Pursuit of Dramatic Difference! [Powerpoint – PPT, slide 3]

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