Lewis Pugh's "speedo diplomacy"
Lewis Pugh has just completed “The Long Swim” - Land’s End to Dover in 49 days. 530 kilometres. A mind boggling-achievement.
Lewis is not just an intrepid swimmer - he’s a great communicator too. (Lest we forget, he is adjunct professor of international law at the University of Cape Town). He was comfortable chatting to fans who braved the wet weather to welcome him on Shakespeare Beach; held is own in the same weather with the Secretary of the Environment (try doing that wearing only a Speedo) - and will no doubt captivate decision makers in a few weeks time as he sets out to build bridges at the G7 summit and the High Seas Convention.
The more I observe current affairs, the more it strikes me how the future is being shaped by the narrative. Pugh’s pierces the sometimes aimless rhetoric of climate change and warns of a bleak future unless we act now. While not all of us will shoulder the same burden, we all have our story. If it’s well shaped and well told, it has the power to bring order out of chaos - be that in your home, your neighbourhood, your non-profit or your for-profit.
In the workplace, it's an especially big challenge: according to the McKinsey Global Institute the typical American office worker hears and reads more than 100 000 words a day. That’s in the region of 120 A4 pages of printed 12-point text!
Says Silicon Valley AI scientist Neil Jacobstein, “we are surfing a tsunami wave of zettabytes of information - our brains did not evolve under that kind of information processing pressure”
The leader who can separate “signal” from “noise”; inspire people with a clearly worded strategy or a compelling story of the future, will make a little bit of history.
No matter which way you look at it, the ability to inspire people, to ignite their imagination, to call them to action... those are rare skills”, says Jacobstein.