Who do you choose to be for this time?

A letter from Be. Leadership Co-Directors Lesley and Philip to the Be. Leadership 2019 cohort

Pioneering Possibility. Be Leadership 2019 Graduates.

Peter Block writes: “Possibility focuses on what we want our future to be as opposed to problem solving the past”. Dan Brown echoes Peter Block when he writes, “Everything is possible. The impossible just takes longer.”

While impossibility seems, well, impossible, in fact it isn’t. Impossibility simply lies further into the future than possibility. Twenty years ago we would have asked Steve Jobs what on earth he was thinking had he suggested the idea of the iPhone. Now, we wait impatiently for the following year’s model to be announced. Brown is right – the impossible just takes time.

The skills required to engage in possibility are inherent in all of us – we all have the ability to be curious, to engage in critical enquiry, and to imagine. Which sounds simple. And it is – if we can navigate a world that places value on quick action and short-term problem-solving and change the conversation. Leading, thinking and working in the possibility space requires us to make time, create space, suspend our need for action first and place value on this work.  

Choosing to lead through a lens of possibility is intentional work, because it starts from a position of enquiry and curiosity rather than claiming a solution. It is brave work. It is creative work. It is uncertain work. And most of all, in a turbulent and ambiguous world, it is important work that has the capacity to create more human spaces where everyone can thrive.

Margaret Wheatley writes: “So much is possible if we consciously and wisely choose how best to step forward as leaders at this time” and challenges us with the question: “Who do you choose to be for this time?” It’s a serious question and one we have explored this year in the 2019 Be. Leadership Programme.

This year, nine years after the inception of Be. Accessible, the possibility of a sea change in our work has come to fruition, after nearly three years of intentional thinking and imagining. Be. Accessible is now Be. Lab, New Zealand’s Access Innovation Lab. For the past nine years we have focused on and worked to create the conditions where accessibility can thrive and where possibility can emerge and take shape. We continue to ask the question – what is possible here – how can we continue to create the space for innovative ideas to take shape and contribute to a future world that works for everyone?

Who do you choose to be at this time? How do you show up at this chaotic time, imagining a future world that works for everyone? How do you see past problem-solving and solution-seeking, so that you can recognise opportunities as they present? How do you manifest possibility?

Maybe it seems impossible at times but, to return to our iPhone analogy, imagine if Apple had decided the iPhone 1 was the solution? We wouldn’t have the iPhone X, and where would we be now?

To the graduates of 2019, welcome to a future of possibility. Thank you for your openness, courage and trust to see past accessibility into possibility. And who knows, maybe we’ll meet again in impossibility.

Tēnā tatou katoa.

Lesley Slade and Philip Patston


+64 9 309 8966
Centre of Possibility

Room WB239
WB Building
(The Seddon Building)
63 Wellesley St East
Auckland City

PO Box 78 021
Grey Lynn 1245
New Zealand