Changing Your Mind can be Costly, but Meaningful

Change_possible_smalThe examples of leaders who are incapable and unwilling to make tough choices are many. The Media provide a regular feed of  accounts after accounts about leaders who are too coward to do what is right by being unwilling to change their minds. We, the readers, have a strange appetite for those stories as we find ourselves swamped with one bad example after another. But we ourselves are diseased with the same paralysis as we are unwilling to change our own minds.

To illustrate – the tragedies around the plight of men, women and children from horror to potential hope in Europe is connected to an EU Directive from 2001 that leaders in 2015 are too coward to change or challenge. The directive essentially tells member states to combat illegal immigration by ensuring everyone traveling has a VISA. Although the directive includes a non-prejudicial clause stipulating “the obligations resulting from the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees”, no airline, for example, will allow you to board a plane even if you are a refugee.

The net effect is that, even if you bring CNN, the BBC and any other major media station with you to the airport to provide indisputable evidence that you are a refugee, fleeing from war, those folks at the check-in desk will not allow you to board because the EU lacks the spine to modify the 2001 directive and they lack the integrity to keep member states accountable.

Juxtapose this against the mindset of Jonas Elgquist, CEO of an IT company in Sweden. Like all of us, he was deeply affected these last days by seeing Aylan’s lifeless body on a Turkish beach. His company was in the process of packing their bags to head out for a company retreat to the beaches of Italy. The decision was made. It was well-deserved. It was set in stone and longed for with excited anticipation. It could have been noted in the company minutes as JE Directive 2015.

But Aylan’s life and death would have the last word.

Jonas summarily changed his mind, canceled the trip and in so doing rewrote JE Directive 2015. He believes that doing the good thing for others sometimes expect you to change the decisions you made for yourself.

He proceed to draft this letter to his staff published in a Swedish Newspaper today:

“Dear Colleagues,

Concerning the picture of the boy lying dead on the beach, I feel that we can no longer stand by and watch. The situation surrounding Mediterranean and Syria have reached a point where, as a fellow man and father, I sense that we must do something.

We have budgeted to allocate SEK 400 000 (US$48000) on a trip to Italy. We were going to bask on the beaches where children wash ashore and where people are killed in horrific conditions, fleeing from something far worse than we can imagine.

We have discussed in the management of Connexions to radically alter our priorities and see the sense of donating the SEK 400 000 which can, for example provide tents and food for 5,714 people for an entire month. This money makes a big difference to many people and will enable us at B3IT Connexions to save lives.

Let us therefore find a very simple activity for our business priority instead of traveling to Rome and together make a great contribution to those who need it. The proposal is for Connexions to donate SEK 400 000 to a larger service organization with a focus on what is happening around the Mediterranean and in Syria. As a consequence, the weekend we were planning this getaway for our staff will instead be used to collect clothing whereafter we will end the time with an activity for your families.

In this way, we will all make an effort to be involved in something that makes a real difference.

I understand that many of you have been looking forward to the trip, and so have I. We are of the opinion that these people have not chosen these destinies – they were without the ability to change their situation. Fate determined this outcome – the fact is, it could have been us and our children.

You may of course feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss or comment on this. I hope for your understanding.

Warmest regards, Jonas”

What will be the contents of the letter from the EU to member states?


Video by Professor Hans Rosling – April 29, 2015

Online Story from Aftonbladet – September 4, 2015

Please note: The letter was written originally in Swedish. Translated by Theophilus van Rensburg Lindzter.

One thought on “Changing Your Mind can be Costly, but Meaningful

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