By Bob Rouse
Looking to maintain your footing or expand your horizons in today’s business world that is rapidly transforming around us – seemingly by the hour? Then I encourage you to read The Innovation Stack by Jim McKelvey … an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of Square and Glassblower. This book is an interesting, personal revelation of what entrepreneurs are to the world and society. It will open your mind.
Innovators can be found everywhere. Refinements in processes and products are plentiful. Many innovations are copies of what someone else is doing, sometimes made more efficiently and hence are cheaper. Progress, right?
McKelvey acknowledges that a lot of money can be made by copying a product or process and making it available at a lower price. Business leaders do this. But, they are not solving new problems, great problems. They avoid taking those kinds of risks.
Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, take on problems with no solutions at hand. They attack them without knowing the solution. They maintain agility in discovering solutions; they are flexible, willing to do something not done before and willing to let go, no longer holding on to solid precedent. Very much like Dr. Carl‘s advice to us, “If you have to know it before you do it, then you’ll only do what you’ve already done.”
McKelvey addresses a new kind of leadership. Leadership in his view goes way beyond careful stewardship of resources in one’s portfolio:
The author provides two additional pieces of advice for leaders:
1. Create a “Not To Do” list. Include those activities on which you will spend no time. This is key to having the time to do those activities you really want/need to do. For instance, avoid social media, Facebook and for-profit media … all of which fight the sale of your attention for someone else’s profit.
2. Find a practice/hobby/activity that clears your mind. This might be flying a plane, refereeing a football game, building furniture, glass-blowing, or any other activity that demands your undivided attention. When complete, you will find your mind clear and you will likely see problems and challenges in a fresh light.
Open your mind – read The Innovation Stack. It’s a strong road map and a personal revelation for entrepreneurial contributions to the world and society.
PS -- A small disclaimer: I have known Jim McKelvey since he was a freshman in my introductory CS class at Washington University. We were co-conspirators in the publication of his first book. We spent hours talking and I have enjoyed his friendship. His loyalty to his family is remarkable. His personal and financial philanthropy have brought a strong ,fresh breath of life to his beneficiaries.
Bob Rouse is a longtime RLF Facilitator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Cheryl Morgan -- RLF Facilitator
The term “mindful leadership” has been gaining more visibility in the leadership development world. Which is why I recommend that RLF grads and facilitators take the time to read Finding The Space To Lead; A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership – a recent book written by Janice Marturano.
The book is a relatively short read and highlights various points about “mindful leadership” … what it is … why we need it … and how to use it to become a more effective leader. The author, who is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, does an excellent job of reminding us that frantic, chaotic, urgent leadership does not serve us well.
So, you may be wondering – what will you find in a book on “mindful leadership?” No, it is not a book on how to meditate, although meditation and reflection are considered to be some key elements of mindful leadership and an entire chapter in the book is devoted to meditation practice.
Rather, the components of focus, clarity and compassion are prime ingredients in “mindful leadership.”
“Today’s environment is constantly evolving; time is measured in nanoseconds,” the author states early in the book. “We are attached 24/7 to an array of technological devices that regularly generate anxiety-producing information overload and a sense of disconnection that can overwhelm and isolate us.”1 I know I could certainly relate to this summation of our 21st century world.
So, how does one create a more mindful life and become a more mindful leader? The author reveals, “A mindful leader embodies leadership presence by cultivating focus, clarity, creativity, and compassion in the service of others”2
The book also conveys that there is quite a bit of emotional intelligence in the pursuit of “mindful Leadership” – becoming aware of your emotions and feelings, identifying and noticing them vs. reacting. The author also talks about the role of emotions in leadership and of the importance of compassion and kindness in the workplace. There are even tips in the book on how to create a purposeful pause in order to pay attention to the thoughts and emotions that may arise as you reflect on your calendar and your very long list of things to do.
I believe this book can help you in both your professional and personal life. There are tips and tools you can take away to learn and practice as you embark on your journey to cultivate mindfulness.
So, if you’d like to learn more about the growing topic of “mindful leadership,” I strongly encourage you to start by reading the pages of Finding The Space to Lead; A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership.
1 Text from Finding The Space To Lead, A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership by Janice Marturano, pp 8-9
2 Text from Finding The Space To Lead, A Practical Guide To Mindful Leadership by Janice Marturano, p 11
Cheryl Morgan is a longtime Facilitator for RLF (Regional Leadership Forum). She can be reached via email at email@example.com.
By Michael Garlich -- RLF Facilitator
RLF alumni … remember reading The Theft Of The Spirit during your RLF experience? Did you like it? Did it resonate with you? Well, whether it was your favorite book or perhaps one of your not-so-favorite books, I’m suggesting that RLF grads could benefit from taking the time to revisit this book – or even read it again – particularly as our life’s circumstances and trajectories inevitably change. Let me explain.
Carl Hammerschlag’s The Theft Of The Spirit has long been a core RLF book, known for its introspective reflections interspersed with the author’s highly-personal stories of spiritual connections. This book is intended to be an introductory conduit toward the core competencies of self-awareness and self-discovery RLF participants ideally develop during the RLF experience. That’s why it’s usually read and discussed during Session 1.
But perhaps you were like me when I initially picked up the book in preparation for my own first RLF session. I immediately judged the book by its cover, assuming it would simply be an anthology of stories and wondering why it was a required book for a leadership development program. However, within a few minutes I came to the final words of the Prologue … “When our history is written, let it not be said that we floundered because we allowed the theft of our spirit.”
As I read those words, and then each succeeding page throughout the rest of the book, unexpected self-awareness suddenly washed over me – along with some tears.
You see, early in our marriage my wife and I lost our 1-year-old son to bacterial meningitis. Out of the blue, our son became desperately ill and a 107-degree fever overpowered him in a matter of hours – before the doctors could determine what was wrong. By then it was too late, and his ravaged body succumbed to the catastrophic damage from the fever.
In all the years afterward, I carefully avoided anything that evoked too much of the searing pain and overwhelming grief we felt – that any parent feels when holding their lifeless child – and the excruciating years-long journey my wife and I traveled toward eventual acceptance and a measure of healing. Yet, because of RLF and the assignment of The Theft Of The Spirit, I suddenly found myself drawn deeply into page after page that forced me to confront again what my wife and I had experienced – and survived.
First, as I absorbed the Prologue’s final words that day, it hit me. That sentence encapsulated what my wife and I had experienced … we may have lost our son, but we ultimately refused to allow our spirit to also be stolen from us. Yes, we floundered. But somehow we managed to hang on, clinging sometimes only by our fingernails to the power of a life-sustaining spirit between us, our other children and our Creator.
All of these memories suddenly came flooding back as I began reading The Theft Of The Spirit … and as I continued to read.
I encountered a passage in chapter 2 describing the same realization that my wife and I eventually came to recognize … that we would never fully comprehend “why did this have to happen to us” and how life-changing moments are constant and inevitable. As Hammerschlag writes, “Our lives are not clear-cut paths to predetermined destinations. Things are always happening to us along the way. Our lives turn out to be a succession of surprises requiring mid-course corrections. We don’t know anything about the end, only that it comes.”
Later, in chapter 7, I read words that similarly captured how my wife and I somehow found our way despite stumbling through our numbing tragedy, when we felt we couldn’t endure one more day or take one more step in the darkness. Hammerschlag writes, “I only saw the way it was, not the way it might be. This is the ultimate blindness. This kind of blindness has nothing to do with sight; it has to do with lack of vision, and vision is the stuff of dreams, hope, and possibilities … I learned to see in the dark.”
Further on, in chapter 8, I pondered this passage: “It was only when he said, ‘Help me get through this day,’ that he knew he could survive the moment. It is in our choices that we shape our destiny – not in lamenting our fate. Events in life are neither good nor bad, they are both.” My wife and I experienced exactly that. In time, we came to realize that we had no option but to survive and therefore made the conscious choice to not be swallowed up by cursing our loss.
As I continued reading the book, I came across a section in chapter 11 that reminded me how my wife and I learned to lean into our beliefs and on each other to somehow believe we could get through another day; Hammerschlag writes, “it is not the certainty in our heads that will save us but the truth of our hearts. What we ultimately learn about life’s journey is nothing – what we believe is everything.”
Eventually I arrived at the final chapter. There, I found two passages reminding me how my wife and I traveled back to a hope-filled life … “The songs of our hearts – prayers – are what give lift to hope.” And, “Prayer gives lift to the wings of dreams.” We truly lived those words, continually turning to a higher power for hopefulness, courage and guidance.
Finally, in the book’s closing paragraph, I encountered three simple sentences which resonate with me to this day; helping me to draw a powerful arc to the story of all that my wife and I experienced … “No one can steal your spirit; you have to give it away. You can also take it back. Find yours.”
A few weeks later, I found myself sharing all of my new-found reflections with my RLF class when I led The Theft Of The Spirit book discussion in our first session. And in the years since first reading it, from time-to-time I’ve revisited this book’s passages as I’ve encountered new challenges and sought to continually understand and articulate my life’s journey.
Looking back today, I recognize that reading The Theft Of The Spirit for RLF helped to crystallize four things within me. First, only we control how we deal with life’s challenges. It’s the way we carry ourselves – and those we love – through our burdens that defines us; not the experience itself. Second, only you control your spirit; and only you have the power to keep it or give it away. Third, you always possess the power to find strength in yourself … a strength you may have forgotten or a strength you never knew you had. And, fourth, I came to know that RLF and its components like The Theft Of The Spirit have been precious gifts in my life, helping me to find meaning in my journey and new ways to better acknowledge, work through and now share the darkest days of my life.
So, if you’re facing a new challenge or an unexpected obstacle, I encourage you to take another look at The Theft Of The Spirit. Maybe you’ll find a nugget that resonates with you more today than when you first read it because your life has changed since that time.
Finally, my hope for you is that your spirit helps you find the way forward as you face the latest development in your life’s journey. And, if you haven’t recognized your spirit recently, I encourage you to pick up The Theft Of The Spirit again … to help you “find yours.”
Michael Garlich is an RLF graduate and a Facilitator for the Southeast RLF program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org