Reality Checking What ‘Good’ Looks Like

“We need to let go of the idea that we can change large complex systems” is one of the uncomfortable truths I often share as I work with senior leaders.

Railing against systems that are unfit, unfair and under-resourced is a never-ending task. It will burn us out before we ‘win’ and the time, energy and attention that we pour into it makes and keeps us fragile; it limits our performance and potential and leaves us depleted in our relationship – with ourselves, with others and with life.

Leadership and Systems researchers and author Meg Wheatley, suggests that rather than focusing on trying to change and transform large, complex systems, leaders can instead focus on creating ‘islands of sanity’ within our sphere of influence.

Orienting ourselves toward possibility and progress generates energy and momentum – for us and the people we lead. And imagine what becomes possible as more leaders do the same and islands join together to create larger and larger masses, until we have a whole ‘continent of sanity’?

There will be gaps between our expectations of how things ’should’ be and the reality of how they are.  But we get to choose whether we rail against reality (making ourselves fragile in the process) or create islands of sanity from which we can see possibility and make progress.


What does ‘good’ look like to you?

Recent Posts

Free Resources


Let’s Talk!