From January 22 to 25, 2019 thousands of the world’s most influential leaders will gather in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. This is my first time participating and as I reviewed the agenda, it was frankly overwhelming. In 600 sessions over four days, leaders will come together to discuss how to cooperate and create solutions to several major challenges we collectively face. The series of global dialogues include:
- peace and reconciliation in an increasingly fragmented geopolitical climate,
- the future of the economy including new technologies and monetary systems like blockchain and cryptocurrencies
- new technology policy and ethics in a world of artificial intelligence and gene editing
- how we manage the impact of key environmental systems (climate, ocean, biosphere)
- how we rethink the future of human capital to help people upskill and self-actualize
That’s just a start. There are many more global dialogues engaging heads of state, CEOs of organizations, NGOs, policy makers. Whether you are attending in person or participating through the news or social media, here is a guide on why and how to engage in the conversations in Davos.
Each of us who aspires to “make our ding in the universe” must engage in the conversations in Davos . This is because in a world that is changing rapidly, we need to carve out time to constantly widen our perspective to the changes that are happening that will impact us and the people we lead.
How to engage?
First, we must move beyond our limited day-to-day focus toward a view of ourselves as concerned and caring citizens of a shared planet. After all, we are more interconnected and interdependent than ever: the air we breathe, the products we consume and discard, the media we create and consume, the geopolitical and economic climate and systems we are part of.
Second, we must take responsibility for climbing up to the tree-tops and constantly renew and seek new perspectives that are wider and broader than we currently have. We can only do this if we seek to listen, learn and dialogue with people who have very different perspectives than us. This requires both a curiosity and a willingness to hold lightly our own convictions.
Third, we must dig deep into our own roots to discover the unique missions that matter to each of us, the most pressing issues of our time that inspire us to make our “ding in the universe” (quoting Steve Jobs). We realize we are just one of many who need to come together and join the people who have a similar mission. When we do this, we emerge as transformational leaders who are engaged, energized, inspired, and willing to be agile in service of a mission that is bigger than ourselves. We move toward our self-actualization as leaders.
So, whether you are at Davos or not, I urge you to follow the dialogues that most matter to you. To discover what those are, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Of the global dialogues, what are the topics that impact me or that I’m interested in learning more about?
- Who are the people I want to learn from who inspire me?
- What are the concerns of the stakeholders that are important to me? What can I learn from the dialogues at Davos that will help me better align with these stakeholders?
- Based on what I’m learning, what is a way for me to contribute or a mission that inspires me?
- What is one action or small step I’m inspired to take as a result of this learning and reflection?
I hope you will take the time to broaden your perspective, learn, and emerge more connected to a mission that is important to you to make our collective world better. Stay tuned and follow me as I reflect on what I’m learning at Davos as a first-timer.
A version of this post first appeared in my Forbes leadership blog.