Seeing the World Clearly

By | October 10, 2021


[October 10, 2021]  In 1936, critics called Winston Churchill the “number one warmonger” in Britain for writing that the German Nazis would cause a war on a larger scale than ever before.  Churchill had something that only the greatest of leaders possess.  He had the ability of seeing the world clearly.

Such insight requires talent to foretell the future by separating the central issues of the day from the everyday chatter.  It means identifying an existing problem and the aptitude to communicate that insight into easily understood terms. These are the most forward-thinking leaders, and they characteristically do not easily anger; they are patient, understand that great things are difficult, and may take time.

The top story in the news this past year was the spread of the Coronavirus and the lives it has claimed worldwide.  Its spread to the United States and other nations outside China caused panic in political circles, and poor decisions were made.  The consequences of those political decisions continue to reverberate throughout the world.  Some now say the “cure,” the decisions made to protect our citizens was worse than the effects of the virus itself.

These are no conspiracy theories, as some in the media are fond of saying.   COVID-19 was no Black Swan Event; scientists have predicted such a virus for decades. COVID-19 didn’t appear one day and became a serious world threat the next.

Senior leaders must “see” the world as it is, not through the rose-colored glasses of an ideology or theory. Ideologies and theories help senior leaders frame events into a mental map. But those leaders who can go beyond these ideologies and theories will be the most successful of leaders.

Churchill understood this. When his country saw peace at any cost, he identified the danger and asked that Britain begin to prepare. Unlike today when leaders ask their countries to prepare for impending danger, those leaders were able to see the future.  And sometimes, they will be mocked and ignored.

World leadership missed the COVID-19 virus. What other foreseeable force is pushing the world into a dark place? Many tell us that Islamic extremism is another and the misuse of nuclear fusion power-generation technology. Are there others? Certainly, there are and will be as long as humankind exists. When these waves of extremism and technology misuse pass, we can only look back and say how successful the leaders who gave us the warnings to be prepared.

Seeing the world clearly is a critical trait of exceptional leaders. It is not a prerequisite but a necessary trait of the greatest and most successful. Winston Churchill had a difficult time leading up to WWII, but once the war started and his country realized the gift he had, he was able to offer the greatest of leadership.


Please read my newest book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Seeing the World Clearly

  1. Doc Blackshear

    Most people are blind to the world and have no desire, whatsoever, of finding out what is really going on. They would rather live in their fantasy world where everything is just hunky dory.

  2. Dead Pool Guy

    Too many folks are willfully blind to reality. Often this occurs thru their adoption of an ideology (an idea that oversimplifies the world).

  3. Qassim

    Seeing the world clearly is no easy task. It is a gift from God and hard to learn.

    1. Jonathan B.

      Only the real butt kicking leaders have this. I know from personal experience that only a small fraction of leaders have this ability. The rest are just pretenders. I saw this in combat and in the corporate world. What bugs me are the pretenders and hangers-on that make our lives miserable because they have a game to sell and that game don’t cut it.

  4. Martin Shiell

    Gen. Satterfield, you’ve done it again with another spot-on blog post. I for one am one of your long-time fans and readers of your site. I continue to brag about how well you put things into perspective and hit onto what makes for great leaders. Let me add, with great humility, that all these things you say about leaders also applies to us ALL. They make for a better life too.

  5. Joe the Aussie

    Cheers! I put out to my mates to read this leadership Internet site.

  6. Greg Heyman

    In this article, Gen. Satterfield is providing us with some important insight into what makes great leaders better than good leaders. Being able to see the world clearly (i.e., more accurately) is what makes them great. If you want to hire someone, then look for these kinds of leaders.

    1. Autistic Techie

      …. and they must be able to communicate that vision of the future, else it is for naught.

      1. Jeff Blackwater

        Yep, otherwise, nothing comes of it. But let’s give Gen. Satterfield credit here for another topic that we should never take our eyes off.

      2. Boy Sue

        Let’s look at the “most popular president in the history of the United States’ Joe Biden. He cannot ‘see’ the future because he is senile and stupid on top of it all.

    2. Randy Goodman

      Just too many overlook this important trait. And, yes, I do believe that Gen. Doug Satterfield is hitting on all cylinders today with his article.


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