CONTINUE YOUR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY
MARK YOUR CALENDAR NOW FOR THESE 6 RLF CONTINUING EDUCATION EVENTS BEING PLANNED FOR 2020!
2020 Dates and Locations:
CHECK BACK HERE FOR FUTURE DETAILS ABOUT EACH SESSION'S CONTENT, FACILITATORS, MEETING LOCATIONS AND MORE!
Typical Topics & Books:
Usually the local RLF Facilitator(s)
Editor’s Note: Darwin John recently shared his words of wisdom with the 2019 Southeast RLF class. Here are just 20 of his career / life observations and invaluable pieces of advice – which he has shared with countless RLF graduates over the past 26 years
· “The quality of your life is a function of the quality of your relationships.”
· “Never attach your self-worth to something that can be taken from you … a title … a job … a house … a car. Always attach your sense of worth to your gifts … to your strengths … to your reason for being.”
· “Many of us are a long way into our lives before we know who we really are.”
· “The older you get, the more you focus on ‘what matters most’…”
· “The genius of RLF is that it is tailored to the individual, because personal epiphanies occur for nearly everyone during the program.”
· “If people in your life were to write down the people they trust most, would your name be on that list?”
· “You’re never old until your memories exceed your dreams.”
· “It’s not about the burdens you have, but the dignity with which you carry yourself through those burdens and challenges.”
· “You cannot see all of anything from one viewing point.”
· “It’s important that you ‘keep the lead’ … both in your career and how you think about things.”
· “Trustworthiness is one of the most important qualities in leaders. You can build or earn trust for years and then lose it in an instant.”
· “Never let having differing points of view affect relationships.”
· “You can have a great deal of influence … if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
· “Have a ‘life plan’ … don’t let your career drag you and your family through life. A life plan is ‘what’s my reason for being?’ ‘What makes me happy?’ ‘What matters most to me?’”
· “Leaders should be able to command, control and collaborate. Good leaders have the ability to read the situation to determine which style to use.”
· “RLF helps us become more conscious of our values – so that we may choose what to do with them.”
· “You should be able to articulate 5 principles you live by … which you won’t compromise on and which you’re committed to no matter what.”
· “We have three spheres we operate in … Intellectual, Spiritual and Physical. Be sure to exercise each sphere every day.”
· “RLF’s development of discipline and habits should be continued long after the program. Read often … improve your mind.”
· “Destiny is origin.”
Darwin John has served as CIO for a number of organizations in both the public and private sectors. He most recently served as the CIO for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During his 9 years at the FBI he also served as a Special Advisor to the Director of the FBI and on the congress created Advisory Board to the FBI. Darwin's pervious positions included Managing Director, Information and Communications Systems, worldwide, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Vice President and Corporate Officer, the Scott Paper Company; and senior leadership roles at General Mills, Honeywell and Thiokol Chemical Corporation.
Darwin has been a longtime facilitator and leader of RLF and the Executive RLF and has been a longtime member of the Society for Information Management, holding many leadership roles including president of the society.
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