I am an idealist, and proud to be so. We need as many idealists as we can find in this cynical world. So I thought I would make this the topic of this week’s “Philosophy Friday”.

“Idealism” tends to be coupled with “youthful”, as if it is an unfortunate phase to be grown out of, like acne. But where would we be without a dollop of idealism in the world? It’s okay to aim high, knowing that it is just an opening position for the bargaining process and may well be whittled down to something more realistic. But if the opening position is already “realistic”, then once the whittling has happened very little will be left. If you shoot for the stars, and only get as far as the moon, you’ve still done pretty well.

Our great visionaries were idealists. An idealist is a lot more inspiring than a realist. It is much more motivating to hear “I have a dream” than “I had a dream, but then I thought about it some more, and realistically we’ll be lucky to get….”

Idealism and realism are not mutually exclusive. Even the most inspiring of visionaries has to have a plan, and supporters to help execute that plan, if they are to be regarded by history as anything more than a dreamer. And that is the appropriate time for realism to enter the picture. To get from the present situation to the envisioned future situation, there needs to be a list of steps to bridge the gap. Tenacious idealism is what makes dreams come true.

In these uncertain times, it isn’t possible to plan every step of the way with accuracy. There is a useful maxim, “plan roughly, execute superbly”, that allows plans to get going before they succumb to paralysis by analysis.

So there we go. My blueprint for creating the future. Aim for the ideal, make a big To Do list to get you from here to there, then execute the plan superbly. Not always easy, but it can be done.

Other Stuff:

Today I saw a flying fish get taken down by, err, something bigger. There was a kerfuffle at the surface of the water, I looked over, saw the flying fish take off, and before it got very far the head of something big came up and grabbed it. The whole scene was over in about one second. It’s a jungle out there. Well, no, it isn’t. It’s an ocean. But you know what I mean.

I creep ever closer to halfway. Getting really close now. And then only as much to do again. Sigh!

Tanya – it’s funny, I’ve never had that dream/nightmare of turning up somewhere in totally inappropriate clothing. Only in real life!

Stephen Stewart – nor have I had floating or flying dreams, although I hear they are very common. I do quite a lot of climbing, even scuba-diving, in my dreams, but no flying. Read into that what you will, Dr Freud!

Keith Arnold – seems to be the week for blasts from the past. I had an old Andersen Consulting colleague send me a message a couple of days ago. One of the perks of my job (or should I say “occupational hazard”?) is that my past is catching up with me. How much do I have to pay you to keep quiet about the embarrassing bits?!

Quote for today: “If we like a man’s dream, we call him a reformer; if we don’t like his dream, we call him a crank.” (William Dean Howells)

Photo: random pic of me – am I looking idealistic?!

Sponsored Miles:
Grateful thanks to: John Miller, Anne and Peter Thomson, Wayne Batzer, Harriet Shugarman and Chris Ferreira.


  • “It occurred to me that one difference between leadership and management is that management occurs within our comfort zone; true leadership takes us outside of that zone.”   I quote a recent article about you originating from Austrailia. Titled Just A Million Strokes by Ron Jones a long time management consultant. Written on 04/04/11.

    https://www.rozsavage.com/2011/08/05/day-94-idealistic-and-proud/#disqus_thread Currently at http://www.ronjonesconsulting.com.au/.

    I will leave it to somebody else to design the multifaceted hat that you seem to wear so well.

    Other stuff (that you will be able to see hopefully sooner) This is a treat for your readers that love dolphins. It is a lesson in sending good vibes!


    but when you do see it you will understand why you had such a fantastic weekend on the 12-13-14 August. 

    When I woke up this morning, I asked myself, “What is life about?” I found the answer in my room…the gentle breeze said, “Be cool.” The roof said, “Aim high!” The window hatch said, “See the world!” The watch said “Every minute is precious.” My reflection on metalic surfaces or on windows said, “Reflect before you act.” The talley post at the front said, “Be up to date.” The door said, “Push hard for your goals.” The floor said, “Kneel down and pray” I had to re-phrase as most of us are in rooms and not in ship’s hulls. 🙂

    Cheers all~

    Row Roz Row!

  • I was coming back one night from the Dry Tortugas in my sailboat when I heard a splash at my bow. The splash was repeated every so often but I could not see what it was in the dark. I finally got out my flashlight and walked to the bow to see what was going on. It turned out that there were six dolphin, (three on each side of my bow) swimming along with me. Periodically my yacht would scare a flying fish. The flying fish would fly about 50 feet – one dolphin would peal off and make a dash for the fish and catch it before it hit the water! The dolphin were using my boat to fish! They kept at it most of the night.
    I am glad you are living your dream! I am having fun babysitting a flock of Black Skimmer babies on the beach here, informing beach goers as to what I have experienced of their lives here – from the parents mating, to the baby’s first flight!
    Glad you are making headway. All the best!

  • Yup …

    BTW Roz, your “long suffering mum” Rita :)) posted a pic of a flat earth “globe” a few days ago. Judging from that “globe” it appears your half-way point is just about at the apogee of the trajectory and that it will be all downhill very soon.  

    Smooth rowing, Roz!

  • I once had dinner with a Dean from UC Davis and a bunch of grads that were back from the Peace Core. That was a room full of idealism in practice. Overwhelmed this trade school grad but inspired too.

  • Hi Roz,

    I’m not so big on praising idealists and idealism.  Your quote actually encapsulates why.  When idealists with great ideas have those ideas become reality it’s awesome.  But when those idealists we call later call cranks try to implement – or worse succeed in implementing – their ideas it’s not so great.  Catastrophic actually.  And there’s been plenty of them.  The worst idealists – even with the great ideas – are those who are too young to understand just how fallible humans can be.  Perhaps the best examples are the young communists who believed putting all the power and wealth in government hands would prevent capitalist plutocracies.  But the end result was the same jerks that gravitate to capitalism to be plutocrats simply gravitated toward the government instead.  And with all the power and worth they were worse.  Human motivations are much more complex than the rich vs. the poor.  These were also the ones who’s intolerance of any other ideals would scare a medieval crusader. 

    I do, however, have enormous respect for visionaries and dreamers.  Yes, these too are idealists of a sort.  But their ideals are much more focused on the endstate rather than what the solution should be.  Theirs is a “What if?” or “Why not?” approach rather than a “This must be” or “It should be this way” approach.  Yes, dreamers and visionaries conjure a lot of moonbeams, fairytales, and nonsense.  But some of it can have a persistance and flexibility. 

    I recall a story about three wise men who were locked away in the top of a stone tower by a king who threatened to execute them if they could not get the door open in three days.  When the door was shut behind them they noticed there was an elaborate key lock and an equally complex combination lock.  Two of the wise men went to work trying to determine the solution to both – picking one and cracking the other.  The third took a nap.  Three days later the two wise men were no closer to a solution and the the third had made no contribution to their effort.  When the guards were heard laboriously climbing the stairs the third wise man arose, and even as the guards reached the landing, pushed the door open.  It wasn’t locked.

    But idealist, dreamer, visionary, or crank, you still look good.


  • At this time yesterday, there were 1,700 signatures. At this moment there are 1,784.  The last few were added within minutes ago from Australia, US and UK, and they range to South Korea, India, Canada, Netherlands, Maldives … tiny little towns like Brighton, Illinois (2,254) and Carroll, Iowa (9,828) and Orange, Virginia (4,674) to megalopolis Seoul (>10 million). I recognize many names, too. I posted a few of the comments on yesterday’s blog. Aimee, please send Roz a few of them http://bit.ly/Roz93Comment … I will continue to post the link to he petition as well as http://bit.ly/BagBanSigs where folks can see their signatures.

    Row really ideally, Roz!

    The signature count is now 1,787 with Heather, Robin and Robert

    • Dear UncaDoug,  I would like to sign the petition but I object to the words demand plastic bags be banned.  Is it usual to use the word demand in the UK?  After all I would be making this demand of a leader in a foreign country.  Also concerned about my privacy as we are informed that the author of the petition would be given my IP address.  Thanks,  Steve

      • Stephen, I think Roz would more appropriately respond, as I am not a patron of the petition, nor am I of the British persuasion residing in the SF Bay Area. BUT, that being said, I believe that citizens around the world need to lean on all of our supposed leaders. Canadians are uniting with Americans, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tony Blair had connections and they all talk. Tony: “Pssst Arnie, can we talk?” Arnie:  “Shuah Tony, come to Cahlyfohrneeah.”  Pressure exerted anywhere pushes them all ultimately, I believe.  Personally, I was once concerned about privacy as you mention, too. But any more, that is not a concern of mine.  I am going to participate in the http://bit.ly/DCtarAction to pressure President Obama to deny the Keystone XL pipeline because I believe tarsand oil should not be excavated for a multitude of reasons.  At this stage we need to be openly forceful, sincere and transparent.  The time is now.  The grassroots are uniting worldwide.

        That’s why Roz is rowing ’round the world. Imagine!

    • Signature #1,796 …

      Mick in Mackay, QLD: “Bags don’t kill! People that use them do”

      Thanks, Mick for helping Roz promote a plastic-bag-free Olympics! Thanks also to Miyoko, Elizabeth, Michelle, Rosalind, Tammy, John-Henry, John, Nikhil, and so many others. 

      Sign at: http://bit.ly/PlasticFreeOly
      Watch: http://bit.ly/See_Your_Signatu​re

  • Have just been introduced to u by local Tom cotter and mr doug! So thankful and impressed by u and to u!! Love love love ur mind

    • Shawna, so glad I noticed your signature (#1,783: we dont need plastic) and your town which is near my home town. Have a great vacation!

      BTW, the signature count is up to 1,792 now, and here is the latest comment:

      John in Ventura, CA: This is an opportunity for the UK to obtain priceless positive fame for leading the world to a plastic bag free world. Do you only want to be known for the IWC63 2011 whaling meeting debacle? Time to stand up for the environment UK & wave your flag proudly in 2012! (1,790)

      Kenneth in Scotts Mills, OR: To be a green Olympics, one must ban as much or all plastic. PLA plastic is the only one that truly decomposes…and that makes for lousy bags. (1,788)

      Here are the links to sign … http://bit.ly/PlasticFreeOly and to watch them climb … http://bit.ly/See_Your_Signatu​re

  • Just the other day I was watching “Nature’s Great Events: Pacific Feast.”  There’s a scene where a scuba diver is filming a “bait ball” of schooling herring, being attacked from below by common murres who trap them against the ocean surface, and seagulls attacking them from above.  Quickly the seagulls fly away and the murres dive for the bottom.  The ocean is silent.  Suddenly a huge grey-colored whale’s gaping mouth appears from below and fills the screen as it scarfs up the entire ball of herring at once.

  • Hey Roz. I hope you’re feeling well when you receive this. Deb and I have some pretty big news. We found a 4-acre property with a nice house at a price we think we can afford. If all goes well, we’ll have a farm soon. So I feel like I’m trusting that void I’m stepping out into.

    On a side note, our friend Jeremy is going to be at Oxford next week for an academic conference. But he says the crowd is pretty stodgy. Do you have any fun pals in that area? Someone with an interest in restoring vintage Italian bicycles would be a double-plus bonus.

    All my best,
    Joan in Atlanta

  • Hi Roz! I haven’t checked in for awhile and I’m sorry. Just so you know, I continue to buy from your sponsors SOLLIGHT and Smart Wool. The socks are fantastic!  The SOLLIGHT products that I bought when they were first your sponsors continue to work and now make great gifts for my sailing friends and camping friends. Hang in there!  The Universe is Watching and cheering!  -Sindy Davis

  • Rita, perhaps you have a spare few minutes to transcribe this TED talk for Roz :)) … Better yet, somebody out there is Rozlingland could transcribe it and post it for Aimee to email Roz.  I would but will not be able to get to it until Sunday.  
    The closing few statements align with Roz’s message perfectly, and she is now exhibiting the tenacity William Kamkwamba explains


    Row tenaciously, Roz!

  • Funny – I laughed on the podcast this week saying am i too idealistic! Because I was questioning what is the difference between business and social entrepreneurship which is a growing term….

    It made me think about your issues about environmentalism and getting the message across. You know I always feel the tone of ‘environmentalists’ is too negative…what you can’t do rather than how you go about it …and what we can do.

    But speaking with Rupert Scofield on Social Entreprenuership – http://theengagingbrand.typepad.com/the_engaging_brand_/2011/08/social-entrepreneurship-podcast.html

    Got me thinking…is there a way of making money throw improving the environment. Initiatives like in Bangledesh that collects refuse and recycles….but making a profit to plough back into the community.

    Clearly the answer is yes, but I mean in relation to what you are wanting to do….maybe your next big challenge is turning the protection of oceans into a social business model?

    Not sure if this makes sense but I will explain over a beer

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