Later this morning, I’m looking forward to talking to thousands of young Australians who’ll be meeting at the Melbourne Convention Centre to discuss the subject of LEADERSHIP.

The Halogen Foundation organises these meetings around Australia–National Young Leaders Days. Students attend from government, Catholic and private schools. Many travel from the country and remote areas.

The other speakers will be Olympian Brooke Hanson, AFL Legend Glenn Manton, and Polar Explorer Matt McFayden. We each have 20 minutes.

So, how do you discuss the subject of LEADERSHIP, in a meaningful way, in 20 minutes with an audience of 2000 young people?

I’ll try to leave them with just one idea to focus on and that will be the concept of ESCAPE.

Thinking is the skill of leading yourself, and Leadership is the skill of helping others to lead themselves. And, the most difficult feat in thinking is to ESCAPE from your current point-of-view.

• In science and technology we have to escape from old ways of looking at things and experiment with new ways.

• In business we have to escape from last year’s results and come up with much better results for this year.

• In sport we have to escape from previous ‘personal bests’ and past competition results and produce even better results.

• In education, we can’t teach students to use Green Hat thinking unless we can first teach them how to escape from Black Hat thinking.

It’s all about ESCAPE.

The problem is that at school we are mostly taught–through the traditional RIGHT/WRONG system–not to escape from our opinions but to defend the rightness of our point-of-view, to get the ‘RIGHT’ answers and to avoid ‘MISTAKES’. This has made us fearful of change, innovation, experiments, risk, and of escaping from ‘right’ ways of doing things.

But, at this morning’s big meeting if we are going to be talking about LEADERSHIP then we will be talking about ESCAPE.

For more on ESCAPE click through to the 59 Second Course on Thinking


19 thoughts on “LEADERSHIP = ESCAPE

  1. i was at the convention Mr.Gleeson and it was truly a inspiring presentation i never knew of such a thing as a school of thinking but am looking forward to trying it out

  2. hey.

    I was at the conference thing today and enjoyed your speech. After hearing it, it struck me that we should politicians that do what they say they will. I mean, surely there should be an obligation to.

    Anyway, after hearing your speech, i’m going to check out your school.


  3. Unfortunately i was unable to attend the event.

    So I was wondering if there was a video or some audio recording of the speeches because i would love to hear it!

  4. Hey
    I was at the Young Leaders day and I was one of the many others that enjoyed your presentation. It was really interesting to hear about the school of thinking and how the thinking hats were formed, which we learnt in primary school! It was very inspiring and I am keen to check out the site to see how i can ESCAPE!
    Thankyou very much

  5. I was at the conference and I thought your talk was great 🙂 I hadn’t realized that we can learn to think laterally and instead of complaining that it’s unfair how some people are so logical, now I’m going to learn how to become like them!

  6. Michael,

    It seems to me that all progress is incremental…The roots of all that is “new” is grounded with another’s previous thought.” There is nothing new under the sun is the old saying.

    Is the brain capable of totally original thought?

  7. A pleasure to hear you speak, very inspiring! My question is during the process of becoming focused on your goal of having lateral thinking added to the standard curriculum in schools you must of had other desireable ideas or things you wanted to do with your life. Was it difficult for you to prioritize and ultimately focus on the one goal? I’m thinking you had to discard some desires along the way in order to focus attention on the primary goal….

  8. Here’s my DFQ #11 question to you Michael: What do you say to people who say “follow your heart and not your head” ie don’t think too much? (Unfortunately my internet connection won’t play your whole speech so this is just having watched the first 2:11)

  9. my question would be what thinking led to the breakdown of the relationship with de Bono (which I do understand was overcome)? Can we take an example from what you learnt in that painful experience that demonstrates your teachings to us?

  10. If ‘leadership’ is the skill of helping others to think for themselves, what do you as a leader do with people who are incapable of genuinely ‘escaping’ to a better view of the situation and hold back the rest of the team?

  11. Great presentation, inspirational. My 16 yo daughter loved it too and would like to know if you would consider putting on a presentation at their school in Scarborough, QLD.

  12. DFQ #11: Similarly to Christine’s question, what do you think about intentional states of not thinking or the meditation process of “watching thoughts” in a detached manner?

  13. How do you go about incorporating the teaching of thinking within the context of our current school circiulum given the relatiely non-progressive nature of the current structure? What would an education system look like with completely educated thinkers in it?

  14. Well, here in the United States we just “escaped” to new leadership with the election of Barak Obama. (I voted for McCain.) Let’s hope he can deliver on all his promises.

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