Be ambitious!

Be daring!

Take chances!

Fail often!

These are the new secrets of leadership success in a digital age, but, then again, this is also exactly what Christopher Columbus did, Vasco da Gama did, Henry Hudson did! For that matter, so did George Custer.

Heroes all, no doubt! But one was killed by the people he was looking for (Custer); one was abandoned by his team and left to die (Hudson); one found the wrong people, in the wrong place, called them by the wrong name, and never knew it (Columbus) and one returned having lost at least half his original crew, and then went on to a career that distinguished itself in mayhem and murder (da Gama). On such exploits, so our history was built.

What do all of these “heroes” have in common? They were all “discoverers.” They knew exactly what they were looking for, what they would find, and were possessed by such a high level of certainty about what they knew that they never asked the important questions that might have saved them from their eventual fates. The 20th century American historian Daniel J. Boorstin spoke of such discoverers as being finders: “[They] show us what [they] already knew was there”, and, while they may be necessary for succeeding in the present, this might not be the leadership style to take us into the future. Read more