Blindness is a social construction

This quarter I have the unique opportunity to use this site to explore the relationship between leadership and organizational culture & change.  I hope to introduce you to some interesting people, enlightening media content and maybe a few academic tidbits.

I’d like to kick the conversation off by introducing you to one of my favorite leaders, Daniel Kish.  I was first introduced to Daniel (we don’t actually know each other…) through Invisibilia, a too-short, too-cool podcast series about the invisible things in life that control our behavior.  It’s fitting that they would do a story on Daniel because well, Daniel is blind.  Daniel also loves riding bikes and hiking and does so frequently.  How you ask?  Echolocation.  And his mission?  To liberate blind children from the social constraints that a label like “blind” can have on a kid’s future.  Effectively, he’s trying to change the way we all “see” blindness.  To get an idea of what that means, I highly recommend watching Daniel in action in this TEDTalk:

Daniel’s story is important because it shows just how challenging it can be to change people’s perspectives.  However, as soon as I heard Daniel’s story, my perspective on blindness completely changed.  Now, it’s not always that easy but the simple fact that all it took for me to change my perspective was to just be introduced to Daniel’s story is indicative of something extremely important in organizational change: leadership.  If leadership is not fully committed to the change mission or if they aren’t communicating their commitment then how can a change initiative possibly get off the ground – let alone be sustainable in the long term?!

My advice?  We need to be using stories like Daniel’s to encourage leaders to be fearless in their convictions and encouraging of others to come along for the ride.  As the podcast notes, it’s possible to move outside of the system – and we don’t have to be able to see to do so.

If you want to listen to the podcast, check out part 1 here: Invisibilia|How To Become Batman Pt. 1 (things get really interesting around the 20min mark).

(quote in title from The Making of Blind Men, Robert Scott, 1981)

One thought on “Blindness is a social construction

  • January 24, 2016 at 11:08 am
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    Great line here: “We need to be using stories like Daniel’s to encourage leaders to be fearless in their convictions and encouraging of others to come along for the ride.” It’s about leadership meaning something like being comfortable with challenging our assumptions, true?

    Reply

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