As Heraclitus puts it, the only constant in life is change. We at Nådiga Lundtan have diligently taken note and presented it as our central theme for this issue. A question arises in relation to the word. What then, do you need to ignite powerful, positive change? My thoughts of change refer to ideas regarding internal and external forces, and how they collide to create a shift.
Let’s step back for a minute to focus on the concept of Virtú and Fortuna, posed by Machiavelli in the 16th century masterpiece The Prince. Ah, Machiavelli. The name that morphed into an adjective. The philosopher who defined cunning and gained admirers in tyrants and presidents alike, with Napoleon famously stating that The Prince was ‘’the only book worth reading’’. It was written at a time when the competition for power in Italy was so intense that this adviser of “princes” set out to teach us how to gain and maintain political power over a state, by exemplifying the successes and failures of historical leaders. Although he proposed the dichotomy of Virtú and Fortuna in relation to power, I see it as a symbolic view applicable to change as well.
Virtù is an internal force, human energy or action that stands in opposition to fortune. It also describes the qualities desirable in a ruler, which might not be the same as virtue conventionally defined. As opposed to the traditional virtues it encompasses pride, bravery, civic humanism, strength, drive and a certain amount of ruthlessness. Virtù makes for the most important quality in a prince, and is a prerequisite for greatness. The great antagonist of Virtù is Fortuna, an external force which we must understand as temporal instability—the flux and contingency of temporal events. God, luck, the universe whatever inexplicable and unreliable forces are at hand fall under Fortuna. Fortuna refers to the unexpected opportunities that might come along.
Virtù is wasted if there is no opportunity, and opportunity is wasted if there is no Virtù, Machiavelli implies that there is some kind of cooperation between the two forces—they cannot operate independently. It may not be possible to completely cancel out the effects of changing fortune, but by decisive and intelligent action, it is possible to capitalize on good fortune and disarm bad fortune. Inherently, if a prince could always adapt his Virtù to the present circumstances, he would always be successful. Another most important quality a ruler must posses then, is adaptability.
In other words, sharpen your skills then boldly seize an opportunity when it fleetingly presents itself. Nowhere in The Prince is there an indication that one should try to transcend fortune; rather, one should meet it head on and bend it, if possible, to one’s own will. The best kind of change comes when you envision, initiate and control it. The ultimate fusion of Virtú and Fortuna. This type of change creates opportunities, transforms companies and ignites growth. Otherwise, you’re facing with the damaging prospect of change that happens in spite of you, rather than because of you. In this issue we will take a look at individuals, companies and events that all have one thing in common; they are taking control of their surroundings and changing the world as we know it. And for any of you who wish to do the same, I hope these stories inspire you.