Every day, news stories and articles from a plethora of sources arrive in my email inbox and news reader software. The deluge is self-inflicted—I need to read widely for my doctoral studies. Mind you, having a voracious appetite for general knowledge doesn't help much!
Every now and again, an article seems to lift itself off the screen, seemingly to attract extra attention as my eyes scan down the headings. Today, one such article was the "Top 100 global thinkers for 2012" list, published by Foreign Policy magazine. I looked at the FP list, because I was fascinated to know whether Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma or the Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai featured anywhere. To my surprise (and delight) both appeared in the top ten.
It seems that, in 2012 at least, global influence is strongly correlated with politics and activism. With one exception (Sebastian Thrum—a computer scientist who has been working on the driverless car), the top ten are all activists or politicians fighting for various causes. It's not until you read further down the list that musicians, economists and business people start to appear.
The point of this muse? Perhaps if you aspire to become globally influential, you should turn to politics in a volatile state, or embrace a vital cause. But most people motivated by these endeavours couldn't care less about fleeting appearances on "influence" lists. Rather, their primary motivation is the cause they've chosen the invest their hearts and souls in, and the enduring impact of their efforts. And therein lies a lesson for us all, as we ponder our role in society and contribution to it.
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.