As the World Turns, From 39,000 Feet


Looking out a window, at 39,000 feet, I see a changing of the day. My mind drifts back to organizational planning sessions where we contemplated present, past, and future. We would “look” at the organization, marketplace, and our place in the world from “perspectives” that included a “ground view,” a 5,000-foot “look down” a 10,000-foot view and, sometimes, even claiming a 50,000-foot vision.

The on-the-ground view is the busy daily management; it can get hectic or euphoric, glamorous and exciting, scary and profitable, problematic and dangerous, innovative and obsolete, cooperative and competitive, winning and losing, tinged with highs and lows and—even an occasional idiocracy.

Yet now, from a 39,000-foot perspective, one can see that we’re all—friend, foe, or unknown life—living on the same spaceship and it’s a lot smaller-looking up here than it feels at ground-level; yet we somehow believe that we must relentlessly compete and even war in self-created win-lose “games” in order to survive politically, physically and economically; and so we invent and operate local and global social and economic systems to force this to happen 24/7/365; yet nature, as a whole, manages to cooperate and complement each other in order to maintain planetary sustainability and thrive.

Actually, as I looked around me on this flight, I may be the only one even looking at the light and the planet (except, I hope, the pilots, although they may have the machine on autopilot at the moment), but I’m thinking that from up here it’s easier to see that we all live and work on the only livable planet anywhere in this vicinity of the universe—so there’s really nowhere else to go!

One truth is that we all are nourished by a single real resource of sun, land, air, and water that if not kept clean and unpolluted no healthy life could exist. All of these are our real individual and common essential resources, without which there is no real individual or common good. Why not at least agree to not pollute the air, water, and land that everyone needs for life?

Moreover, when we don’t care for both the individual and the common good of all, the individual good of everyone becomes threatened with the possibility of a horrible way of life as we age and, perhaps, even some rather unpleasant extinction over time.

About Larry Smith

Larry Smith is Principal of The LeaderShip. He is a presidential-award winning chamber of commerce CEO (for finding innovative solutions to public problems), a teacher/facilitator in organization management, and Editor of a quality- and systems-thinking management journal.
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