I often envy cynics. In the midst of change they can so easily begin their critique of the current realities. Or they can take a premise (the central idea of any breakthrough innovation) and dismantle it purely based on their past-based data and understanding alone.
In the past my orientation to the cynic went somewhat like this: In scathing displacement they deftly spin their cocoon, a blanket of protection which ironically seems to be woven in resistance to the transformation that deep down, they desperately desire.
I am not so sure that this is the case anymore. In fact, it may be that cynics are intentionally playing a role. So, the idea of the devil’s advocate may come to mind, but I think it is more profound than this. For the self-professed and consciously (perhaps conscientiously, too) engaged cynic, their role seems to be one more so that of a constant reminder to look at problems from as many angles as possible. In addition or alternatively their role is also to serve as adviser to the power of intuition.
If you feel it strongly in your gut and it is not challenged, the integrity of the idea never stands up to anything strong enough to be for certain that it is anything more than a fleeting good feeling.
Let me give an example of why I am learning to appreciate cynics more today than ever and why I think they are the some of the best generators of possibility.
Over the past several years my work has led me to generate many premises about human capital dynamics. Most recently, the premise that a focus cultural competence and quality and the components that create and drive the above, are the core of success in any healthcare organization and perhaps in any organization period where quality is valued. The components, especially inclusive leadership and employee engagement have come to be core to the premise in that they are critical in producing sustainable results.
So, I have this premise and some of the people in organizations that have agreed that this premise is worth pursing are going about testing hypotheses and questions that relate to the ideas of our model. They are of course leaning heavily on those components that serve their specific needs right now.
What the so-called cynics have done for me is inspire me to not be stuck on a single point of possibility. Where before I recognized that the various parts of our model can give organizations a way to connect the often separated components of organizational development.
Lately as a result of some of my ideas being challenged and sometimes told to not be practical or feasible, have given me insights towards possibilities that simply were not considered before. I see the value in going deeper into any one component of the model and connecting to the others naturally without having to do 8 other things to legitimize the premise. I questioned a central premise based on a cynical response and in my questioning I discovered a new space to explore and share with you.
Now, my envy for the cynic is not envy for their being cynical but appreciation of what they inspire and hopes that I can take on a little more of their characteristic skepticism in order to create and recognize possibilities as they arise.
Make it a great day!