Epiphanies are occasions for “a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.” Stated another way, epiphanies represent “an intuitive grasp of something (as an event) usually simple and striking.”
We often equate epiphanies with a church festival commemorating the Magi’s visit to the Christ child. Today, January 8, is Epiphany Sunday in the Christian church.
Successful leaders need epiphanies. Imagine an organization where the status quo is seldom questioned, processes are rarely reviewed for improvement, and employees are not challenged to grow and learn.
Will this enterprise survive? Can they expect to attract and retain the brightest and best employees? Won’t the competition soon be stealing the company’s best customers?
Leaders who engage employees and customers in a constant search for new and better ways to build products and deliver services are sure to encounter epiphanies.
Consider the Honda engineers who designed the first cutout trunk for sedans by watching people struggle to place items into the trunks of their cars. Or the genius of Southwest Airlines, whose no-hub model for flying allows them to efficiently and profitably move passengers between cities at lower costs.
Epiphanies can occur during a conversation, a walk in the park, or in the shower. The only requirement is an openness to new ideas, a love for learning, a sense of wonder, and a willingness to listen. Leaders encourage epiphanies by being more accessible and vulnerable.
The Magi’s epiphany included an encounter with the Divine. Our epiphanies are no less magical for isn’t there a sense of the Divine in each of us?
Organizations and communities need more epiphanies. The power of fresh ideas, new eyes, and the courage to act…these ingredients will effect lasting social change.
Join me in search of epiphanies. Or better yet, join me in creating them.