In 1950, a group of parents chose to unite and view their children differently. They had been told from the day their son or daughter was born that they would be nothing. These families believed that the professional perceptions of their children were wrong and sought to face the fear of the unknown together.

Today individuals with disabilities have rights to education, jobs, and freedom from institutions because those parents believed the impossible was possible. It is now more crucial than ever for individuals to be willing to think outside the box and consider possibilities beyond the norm.

Advancements in technology allow individuals to meet people from all over the world. More than any other time in history, we are conducting business with strangers whose customs and views are different from our own. In order to achieve success, the automatic pilot must be replaced with iconoclastic thinking that questions the common perceptions of those different from us.

According to researchers, fear distorts our perception to the point that wrong decisions become an extremely real factor. Fear also causes individuals to make incorrect attributes about strangers, due to a distorted view or incomplete facts. In the human service field, meeting with “strangers” is a daily occurrence. It is vital that to ask questions and communicate efficiently in order to correctly identify needs, personality, and desires of the individual in order to help them effectively. Knowledge of the communication process among different groups and understanding that background influences perception and how we send and receive messages is a vital skill.

Iconoclastic thinking is also a key component in progressive leadership needed in the twenty-first century. Successful leaders in today’s society understand the importance of embracing uncertainty, questioning the conventional, and seeing how to make the impossible, possible. These explorer leaders choose to focus beyond the conventional ideas in order to improve peripheral vision and maintain optimal long term success.

Progressive leaders are willing to risk failure in order to discover new avenues of success. Leaders that provide a safe environment that invites employees to experiment with new ideas, see the value of the process regardless of ultimate success or failure.
The fear of the unknown is often the culprit that prevents individuals from moving on to the next challenge. Fear of failure or public ridicule is one of the three obstacles to iconoclastic thinking. Flawed perceptions and the inability to influence others also make the list. Individuals must be willing to step out of their comfort areas to achieve iconoclastic thinking.

Modern society standards are often self-focused, but it is time for a change. Transformational leaders have the ability to listen and understand the needs of others. Effective leaders visualize humans as people with needs, interest and emotions and consider those needs above their own. Individuals are motivated, work hard, and find job satisfaction when their basic needs are met; and believe those in authority value them.

In 1950, several parents believed they could change how society viewed their children. They fought hard, and the view and expectations of their children has changed. Individuals with disabilities no longer live in institutions or hide away on a family farm. They receive education, assistance, friendship and acceptance, all because a few believed the impossible was possible.

The World needs iconoclast to challenge norms, think outside the box, and propel us forward. What is your impossible dream?

Randel Goad – Mandt Faculty