CONTINUE YOUR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT JOURNEY
1. Any RLF grad wanting to refer someone for a 2023 RLF or Executive RLF program must email that person’s name to RLF Administrator Joanne Jackowiec (email@example.com). The email should contain:
2. Joanne will process / track the request by:
**The $500 Referral Award will not qualify if the candidate name was previously submitted by an RLF sales representative, RLF facilitator, RLF Alumni, or large company.
You still have time in 2022! This November you're invited to take advantage of a great opportunity that RLF is providing so that you may continue your leadership development journey!
It's not too early to plan for 2023! Next year, you're invited to take advantage of more great CEE opportunities that RLF will provide so that you may continue your leadership development journey! Several CEE's are in the planning stages, with this one definitely taking place:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Carl Hammerschlag, author of RLF’s longtime core book, The Theft Of The Spirit, passed away in January 2022 at age 82 from a chronic cardiac condition. Some months earlier, Dr. Hammerschlag hosted a special virtual meeting with RLF grads and shared numerous perspectives which resonate quite strongly even though he is now no longer with us. His final advice during that webinar is particularly apt:
“We don’t take anything with us – it’s what we leave behind that matters in the end. So, stretch your boundaries and don’t focus on the loss and the toll that life sometimes brings us. Rather, always appreciate the preciousness of the moment. And remember … the way it was, is not the way it is.”
Dr. Hammerschlag’s works and philosophies will undoubtedly continue to resonate with countless RLF participants for years to come. Below is how one RLF grad was touched by The Theft Of The Spirit which we are publishing again as a tribute to Carl Hammerschlag.
Thank you, Dr. Hammerschlag, for being such a longtime friend of and contributor to RLF…
by MICHAEL GARLICH
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 a 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 – 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 absolutely 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 on each other and into our beliefs 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.”
When I arrived at the book’s 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 gives 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.
Then, 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 burdens. It’s the way we carry ourselves and those we love through challenges 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.
• 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 share with others how I traveled through 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. I believe you’ll find a nugget or two that may resonate with you more today than when you first read it.
Or, 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.” My hope for you is that your spirit helps you find the way forward as you face any daunting development in your life’s journey.
Michael Garlich is an RLF graduate and a Facilitator for the Southeast RLF program. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
RLF is famous for fostering deep knowledge of various leadership principles through each Forum's book discussions -- taking place throughout every 2-day session.
In addition to the several dozen "core books" required of all RLF participants in 2022, the facilitators of each Forum also chose other books for their participants to read this year. The selection of these additional books for 2022 are listed here, as suggestions for all RLF grads to consider as you continue your practice of absorbing and learning from a variety of books, perspectives and philosophies on leadership.
The facilitators of the 2022 Mid-Atlantic RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 Midwest RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 New York Metro RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 Northeast I RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 Northeast II RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 Pacific Northwest RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 Pacific Southwest RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 Southeast program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
The facilitators of the 2022 Texas RLF program chose these additional books for their participants to read, discuss and learn from:
Click here to view previously-published "Leadership Tips" from RLF facilitators and RLF graduates.
Click here to view previously-published "Book Suggestions" from RLF facilitators and RLF graduates.