The Butterfly Effect

I had always been aware of what is commonly known as the “butterfly” effect but it was not until I watched a video of author Andy Andrews explaining it, complete with a story and book of that title, that I found the joy of its premise. The theory that a butterfly fluttering its wings in Brazil can cause “weather” in Texas, while laughed at when first advanced, has, in fact, been proven scientifically. So, what does the butterfly effect mean for leadership?

When I teach leadership classes, the learning lessons often chronicle the stories of the deservedly heroic and celebrated figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Theresa. What I quickly point out, however, is that none of us in the classroom that day is likely to make a speech before 200,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial much less one that inspires generations to greatness. BUT, what we do each and every day is make a series of decisions that affect lives.

Those decisions – from what to wear to work — to a momentous decision that will affect many lives either positively or negatively, sometimes both. We owe it to ourselves and to others to learn how to make good and ethical decisions. We do so with the knowledge that we are not perfect and that so long as you live, you will have a learning lesson every day. The great news is that in spite of all the negativity in our world today, there is a common decency and a desire to learn those skills and to vow to always do better every day. Take a look at Andy Andrews’ explanation ( He is an inspirational figure – having lost both parents at age 19 and finding himself homeless and in despair for a time. He determined to reach the biographies of great leaders and has emerged as one himself through his books and unforgettable stage presence.