Mapping Effective Covid-19 Engagement: Four Responses to the Challenge
We can point once again to Winston Churchill as a notable example regarding the decline in collective support for Azure Blue leadership and the loss of a sustaining vision. During World War II, Churchill not only exhibited courage, he also articulated a compelling vision regarding the future of England (and all of Europe), that helped to increase the resolve of English citizens to fight against the Nazi regime and against Hitler’s equally compelling (though horrifying) vision for a new Europe. When the Germans were defeated, England and Churchill not only lost an enemy, they also lost their compelling vision for the future. Churchill never regained his status as the leader of England, even though he came back into office.
While England (and all of Western Europe) were certainly better off after World War II than they were during the war, there was not a new Europe. The United Nations failed to solve all of the international problems (just as the League of Nations failed to create a unified world after World War I). World War II was not the war-to-end-all-wars (as was proclaimed at the conclusion of World War I). Many writers have documented the existential despair that followed World War II, when people had to return to a life that had not improved, despite the visionary statements of World War II leaders like Churchill, Roosevelt, De Gaulle—even Stalin.
What about the role of vision on a smaller plain—in a group, organization, or community? I propose that the same ironic challenge exists. The vision must remain viable. Organizations are often in crisis when they actually achieve some success and have realized a dream. The following concerns are commonly shared: “What do we do now that we have completed this five-year plan?” “We have obtained this grant and have initiated our new programs, but nothing has really changed. We are still hustling for more funds.” “I got us to this point, but don’t know where to go from here!”
It is critical that a new set of goals be established before the old ones are realized; it is equally as important, however, that achievement of the old goals be honored and celebrated. An organization or community that simply moves from one five-year plan to a second five-year plan is just as vulnerable to exhaustion and disillusionment as an organization that never realizes its dreams (because they have been set too high). We must appreciate the achievement of current goals and must linger for a moment to honor the old dream and vision before moving forward to a new sense of the future.