Barry Lopez’ masterful Arctic Dreams gave me an inkling of a richly philosophical seam in the Eskimo language. If you sit down and watch, read or listen to the news, you may despair at the apparent absence of anything resembling an isumataq in the upper echelons of government, corporate and other vaunted leadership.

What I particularly like is that it doesn’t focus on the innate wisdom of the individual isumataq, but on their capacity to create a context in which wisdom can appear.

Isn’t that a good definition of leadership?  Not people telling us what to do because they are so much wiser than we, but rather enabling the latent wisdom buried among the underlings of the world – and in our interactions with each other – to emerge.

Something worth exercising quinuituq for! And while I wait patiently, I’ll sign up to the Isumataq School of Management & Leadership. If I can find it.

And once in a great while an isumataq becomes apparent, a person who can create an atmosphere in which wisdom shows itself.’

See also my bestellar review of this wonderful book, complete with a mosaic of quotations, metaphors, triologisms and other alluring Eskimo words.

Source: Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams (London: Picador, 1987), p. 298

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