Thursday, March 9, 2017

leadership dot #1742: hopeful

If I asked you how much extreme poverty has changed globally since 1990, what would you answer? An increase or decrease and by how much?
Compare that to respondents in a Glocalites survey who answered:
decreased more than 25% = 1% of responses
decreased 25% = 12% of responses
stayed the same = 18% of responses
increased 25% or more = 70% of responses
The 1% were correct. Extreme poverty has decreased more than half over the last 25 years according to the Annual Letter by Bill and Melinda Gates describing the work of the Gates Foundation. The Letter is full of several positive results, many of which are unnoticed by the U.S. mainstream.
For example, the number of new cases of polio/year was 350,000 in 1988 and last year was a total of 37 globally (not 37,0000; just 37 -- all those in high conflict areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria where it is too dangerous to do immunizations.) Why should this matter?
I think that optimism is in short supply these days, and to have proof of substantial results should be encouraging to all of us. It shows that staggering, global problems can be solved -- that it may take millions of dollars and decades of work, but that positive change does occur. Optimism also builds momentum as people want to be associated with winners and success -- the more that people believe efforts are having an impact, the more likely they are to personally support the changes.
If you need a dose of hopeful news (made more credible as it is balanced with a dose of realism), read the Annual Letter. Bill and Melinda conclude with their optimistic prediction: "We're confident of one thing: The future will surprise the pessimists." That's the best news I have heard in awhile.
[For more on this read the Fortune magazine commentary: What Bill and Melinda Gates see that Donald Trump Doesn't by William Taylor, February 17, 2017: "You can be a Gates fan, a Trump fan, or a fan of neither, but it’s impossible not to be struck by how differently these supremely powerful people see and explain the world. I’ll leave it to you to reckon with the implications of these differences for your business, your approach to leadership, and the future of the planet."]

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