Political entrepreneurship? The next chapter in our story of greatness?
We live in extraordinary times.
-We have the knowledge and the technology and resources to become the first nation that achieves a sustainable abundance for all our citizens even as we are buffeted by waves of crisis-like challenges.
-But what makes these times even more remarkable is that the large majority of the American public is eager for radical change as evidenced by the number of passionate supporters of President Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders.
-What these two men have in common is important: They are seen by their supporters as truth tellers who don’t rely on conventional political language or behavior. It is extremely rare for such a large majority of folks to be eager for new approaches to systemic problems.
To create our epic futures and manage our challenges it is vital we are united in purpose.
-Except for our shared eagerness for radical change we’ve never been so divided politically and if we rely on today’s political language and constructs it will only get worse; they’ve been warped beyond usefulness by their new purpose of destroying political opponents and their ideas.
It is vital we find common ground that, first and foremost, must have attributes that help us become a nation capable of great accomplishment.
-This new common ground must be as attractive to left as right, as useful to those who have as it is to those who have not yet.
-It must be unoccupied so we can arrive there together.
-And it must provide new creative perspectives and fresh language useful to all American’s looking for radical change.
We can find this common ground in the extraordinary fact at the heart of the most rationally optimistic and most universally attractive story I know: that 98% of us are born with a creative genius.
-In the 1960’s as part of NASA’s determined effort to become more innovative and achieve JFK’s challenge of sending humankind to the moon and returning us safely, the assessment tool they developed to identify the most creative and entrepreneurial scientists and engineers was later used to measure the creative capacity of 1,500 4 year olds. 98% of the children scored at the Creative Genius level that NASA had established—using the exact same assessment tool.
-That only 4% of those children performed at that level when they were 30 helps make the case of what a phenomenal—and necessary—investment in the future of our country is the authentic effort to retain and develop the natural creative genius we all share.
-I have told this story of our shared creative genius to thousands—college and high school students, church congregations, public library audiences, business leaders, military leaders, parents, coaches—and everyone is delighted to hear it and they become more optimistic as they listen and they want to hear more.
From this common ground, and the creative and entrepreneurial principles and practices that are native to it, new political perspectives become available.
-New political language informed by proven creative and entrepreneurial principles and practices will refresh and at times even transcend old political arguments, often reconciling opposites. The research that shows how diverse populations are more frequently more effective at creative and entrepreneurial achievement would be respected in immigration policy discussions, for instance.
-Political leadership is provided with a nurturing refresh, given tools that permit new insights into old ideas and new language separate from past political prejudices, to more effectively collaborate.
-Political agendas based on the creative principles and entrepreneurial practices will be directed towards the express purpose of nurturing a creatively entrepreneurial citizenry and supporting their creative and entrepreneurial work; the more creatively entrepreneurial a citizenry, the more effective and efficient all government investment will be.
Creatively entrepreneurial principles and practices that are basic, that are universally understood, and that are proven productive in all human endeavors should begin to shape political behavior and agendas.
-Let’s intentionally Create Advantage from Opportunity, not Take Advantage of Opportunity. An attitude of Creating Advantage prejudices us towards cultivating and nurturing and developing and investing to benefit for more. Taking Advantage attitudes lead to extracting and harvesting—taking the best for me and leaving the rest for you—and tend to benefit fewer.
-Being Generous is Being Generative. They come from the same Latin root, generos, to produce, and being generous in a productive way is being entrepreneurial. Being generous with new or conflicting ideas is highly productive in entrepreneurial work; I don’t have to accept them, but I can learn a lot about my own ideas when I first try to appreciate yours.
-Humility is vital when facing new challenges; with all our knowledge and technological development we don’t know the most important things we need to know in order to accomplish a future of sustainable abundance for all, and we can’t be afraid to admit it.
-Story informs and inspires. We understand ourselves and our worlds through stories. Aspirational stories have shaped our view of the human condition time and again. Our national historical narrative has often been a tale of a creative and entrepreneurial people working together; a powerful refresh are the stories of creative geniuses building futures of sustainable abundance for all.
-Bottoms-Up Self-Organization is the nature of the most healthy and sustainable growth. It is populism.
-The Power of Both. Rather than compromise, which often means less than, we first reframe the question or strategy so that the two conflicting ideas no longer conflict and we can do both–let’s invest in public education and invite educational experiments in charter and private education. And in our political behavior we should act decisively as we question, with humility, constantly. And good leaders rely on both command and control and climate control leadership practices.
-Servant Leadership. One who would lead should first serve.
The Stories authentically told from this common ground might be the most powerful additions to America’s proud sense of self in a long time, loaded with political might. That we are striving to become the most creative and entrepreneurial nation the world has ever known, and that we take this on optimistically since we are all born with a creative genius, this is a call for the best of us with broad and deep appeal.
The first two story lines are core and the second two are examples of a range of refreshing extensions:
-We are all born with a creative genius. It continues to surprise me that no one knows about the research that revealed 98% of us are born with such a remarkable creative capacity that NASA called it creative genius. Everyone loves this story—some ask about how it was measured and once they are assured, everyone is ready to embrace it wholeheartedly, especially anyone who recently spent time around typical four year olds and seen their tireless curiosity and unlimited imaginations and their productive bias for creative action. And once an audience is taken by this story they are eager to know what they can do about it. It seems easy for them to embrace the idea that when we appreciate our creative genius, it begins to appreciate in value.
-No one has any idea what the year 2030 has in store for us, and it’s only 13 years away. The most responsible thing leaders can do in service to our nation is help us arrive at 2030 as the most creative and entrepreneurial citizenry we can be, ready to create advantage for ourselves, our family and communities, and our nation, regardless of what we find when we get there.
I suggest some (very) preliminary policy ideas below, but if we stopped right here at Story I believe I’ve outlined a powerful political message that in itself serves the public. Leading by telling these stories serves the public and positions that political leadership precisely where it wants to be.
And here are two examples of other stories informed by our core stories.
-Achieving sustainable abundance is an aspirational story that could be a moon shot; it is also an example of how creative and entrepreneurial language can shift or transcend old political baggage. Current political expectations suggest we can have one or the other. A creatively entrepreneurial citizenry can accomplish both.
-The importance of Common Wealth. When we understand it we see it’s importance in so many productive places—from start-up incubators sharing networks and resources to public schools to public works projects like the Grand Coulee Dam—and we are more successful individually when we invest in our Common Wealth.
A political agenda would be generally informed by a Create Advantage vs. a Take Advantage approach to life. Education is the easy one.
-Education is a top priority. Our nation must invest to develop the most productive human capital. Education reform is required. Today students consume their educations; they must construct their educations, to more effectively learn traditional subject matter but also to develop creative and entrepreneurial skills. STEM X Creativity and Entrepreneurship must be a major focus. There are plenty of great examples of educational systems developing students’ capacities to be creative, entrepreneurial, adaptive, and also more effective learn other core subjects. Teachers must be paid well, master teachers must be leveraged, and all students must be actively working and playing creatively every day.
-Tax policy for investments is an important place to apply a Create Advantage vs. a Take Advantage prejudice. Investments in start-ups and in new technology and other innovations, since these are investments that create cascading effects of benefit for many, will be taxed very favorably. Investment that simply benefits the individual investor receives less favorable tax treatment.
-Immigration policy. All the research shows that the more diverse the creative team, the more likely they will be successful. More diverse creative perspectives lead to more original ideas; more diverse networks of contacts and resources lead to more effective and efficient execution. That creative truth informs an immigration policy that is generously welcoming the folks who want to bring their dreams and their talents to help us build our most remarkable futures—we ask them to pledge allegiance to the US developing into the most creative and entrepreneurial nation ever. Folks who are here undocumented might find a two part assessment of their time here: are they producers and are they trustworthy? If so, we again will be generous in our efforts to help them become citizens. If not, then we will send them home. And being generous doesn’t mean being foolish: folks must trust that we will identify those who would do us harm and do all we can to keep them out of our country.
-Environment. Science will be respected and investment in green technologies will receive most favorable ‘create advantage’ tax breaks; the market forces will be key; government support of primary research is generative.
-Health care. The more health in the community the more creative energy there is, the better the community can care for those who need it. A high standard of community health is an important common wealth—each of us benefits from it. Again government support of primary research is important.
-Penal system. The programs that bring entrepreneurship training to inmates resulting in significant improvements in recidivism rates will be studied and tested and rolled out, and serve as a watershed in a movement away from punishment that breaks down a human being towards penalizing and renewing.
-Politics. There is reason to respect institutional knowledge but the political status quo is leaden and the continuous refresh of term limits flows from creative and entrepreneurial principles.
And lobbying becomes all the more dangerous with term limits, it seems, and must be severely restricted.
-The Future. One of the distinct benefits of this direction is it’s intentionally future oriented. Starting the political discussions about future topics like AI and a Guaranteed Minimum Income now is important, and doing it through the creatively entrepreneurial language native to our common ground will be most beneficial.
I am not a political person. I’ve not even voted in every presidential election. But I have grandchildren who will be alive in the year 2100 and want them to be as delighted with their lives then as they are now. If this stimulates your thinking about how we bring a healthy creative and entrepreneurial refresh to our destructive political landscape, I hope you will do something with your ideas. I am setting out now to share this with those who have political power and influence.