Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I HEART Williamson County, Tenn.

This past weekend I spent some quality time in one of the most beautiful
parts of the U.S. that I have personally visited to date: Williamson
County, Tenn.

Located on the southern edge of the Nashville area, the county is home
to cities such as Brentwood and Franklin (as well as a giant gaggle of
country and Christian music stars) and is teeming with hills, trees and
wide open spaces. People wave to “strangers” and children ride
their bikes throughout their neighborhoods without adults having to be
right on top of them. Houses of all shapes and sizes are spread out a
little, a far cry from the zero lot line mania that has infected so much
of modern development (particularly where I live, in Central Florida).

It was a glimpse of a lifestyle and surroundings that I did not realize
still existed in America, and with a strong flavor of indigenous
authenticity: These communities were not designed by some master plan
and approved by a zoning board, they simply have always been there. In
other words, they are grounded in history rather than invented by
developers. There is a lack of the generic, strip mall culture so
typical of what is found in so many places.

I arrived home with a modified mindset of possibilities when it comes
to participating in authentic community. It is easy to become or remain
cynical when immersed in a culture where most people are looking out for
themselves (especially when you were born in such a context and never
knew otherwise), but my weekend in Williamson splashed some new drops of
idealism across my outlook.

Leadership Book is on Sale!

A couple of years ago I met a pair of great guys named Glenn Gutek and Joe Coury, also based in Central Florida. They run a business called Awake Consulting, which trains leaders to move from average to excellent in the midst of "a world thoroughly committed to our mediocrity."

Glenn and Joe had a desire to publish a book that would encompass the material from their training sessions, as well as various insights about being a "wide awake leader" (a term inspired by Tom Hanks' lines in the movie Joe Vs. the Volcano). One day they met me, a guy who likes to write books, and after a ton of writing and endless re-drafts and waiting for the publisher to roll...the book is out!

You can check out Wide Awake Leadership at:


And please let me know what you think! Thanks!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Journey of Faith

Everything I’ve been studying about the archetypal journey of the hero reinforces my intuitive notion that I can never rearrange the pieces to form quite the same whole again.

This holds true for relationships; faith; philosophies; career approaches; communities—you name it. I cannot be the same person, writer, speaker, believer that I was five years ago or even a year ago, even if I wanted to. I can’t be exactly the same friend, husband or dad. All of life is moving through this constant cycle of grappling with the call to adventure; heeding or refusing the call; being equipped by the wise; crossing thresholds of uncertainty; reaching a goal; and returning with newfound wisdom, tools—and, often, humility or brokenness—in order to serve others in some greater capacity.

Marshall Goldsmith, considered one of the top executive coaches in the U.S., has a recent book entitled What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Mr. Goldsmith, who is the first keynote speaker at next month’s Best of Talent Management Summit in San Francisco (I’m the last workshop speaker—hey, Jesus said the last shall be first!), is on to something. We must keep our skills, savvy and networks on the cutting—if not bleeding—edge in order to thrive with the rapid change infecting all sectors of business, education and culture itself.

One particular, vital area in which I have noticed I am unable to rearrange the parts in quite the same way again is my life of faith. For more than 15 years I have been, and continue to be, an active follower of Christ. This journey has taken me down many paths, with significant high and low moments and numerous education and career-related benchmarks. I have sojourned from having very little biblical literacy and theological grasp to being deeply immersed in the bubble of evangelical western Christianity—to the place I am now, still grounded in my theology and faith but seeing a much larger spiritual plane than the one afforded by typical Americanized Christendom.

I could attempt to force myself to simplify things and push aside the multitude of connections from various other cultures, faiths and works of humanities that scream of a much larger picture than the one painted by available scripture and institutional religion. Sometimes I yearn for that era when all I wanted to learn about was the Bible and consume books or talks inspired by the Bible. Yet I cannot go back, and I do not think it is God’s intention for me to go back. As Bill Moyers states in his extensive interview with Joseph Campbell called The Power of Myth, my faith is being strengthened and enriched by allowing God to spring free from his westernized box—even if I cannot fully say where the journey is taking me, except for knowing that Jesus remains my integral companion along the way.

I pose questions and challenges here that institutionalized leaders or bureaucrats do not want expressed, because it poses a threat at many levels. But to me the deepest threat is confining one’s intellect or emotions to a dogmatic menu of beliefs sorted out and modified across time based on particular organizational agendas and objectives.

Ultimately, being enriched by the spiritual elements of truth found in so many pockets of life is the missing ingredient that can season the bored or inconsistent Christian/Jew/Muslim/etc. into a new era of bliss. Faith that is tested, challenged and stretched becomes faith that endures, faith that is worth having.

It is faith that is constantly calling us to a new adventure, in order to better serve humankind—and, in my opinion, better serve Christ.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Well Worth-It Words

While visiting a well-known mega bookstore the other evening, I’m not sure if I was more overwhelmed by the idea of trying to read all of the books that captivate me—or write one that would not only get published but find its way onto someone’s radar amid billions of billions of other printed words.

Others have tasted that joy; I have not as of yet, at least when it comes to a solo manuscript project. I find it easy to look at the endless titles spread across the retail space and wonder, “Could I really add something new to the conversation already taking place?” That is the writer’s question. The reader in me asks, “How much should I be reading on a topic before actually acting on what I’m reading?” and “How much of my learning is just for the sake of learning?”

I feel a sense of humility and awe when someone not only reads this blog but leaves a comment on it. I’m not sure if anyone can fully calculate the active number of blogs on a given day, a figure that will surely be outdated by the next day. Technology has empowered and liberated many to have a published voice, and yet the amount of hours each of us can devote to reading (print or digital or via cell phone) has not increased and in many cases has diminished. So to have a reader—and, especially, a commenter—is a precious thing. No pressure!

Therefore, the question is: Amid so many voices expressing themselves through words across multiple mediums, what is worth saying and what is worth reading?

The answer, I believe, lies within the layers of the writer/reader’s current season of life. I passed dozens of books that seem irrelevant now and barely earned a glance, and others whose jacket copy I took the time to peruse. A few others I carried around the store for an hour or so, giving them a fair consideration while drinking a cup of hot green tea. There is always, for both time and economic reasons, the culling down process. What do I really need to read right now, and can I get this book in the library instead?

I think the decision of what to write is far less strategic in terms of time and money, but certainly applicable to the flow of the current season. We write the thing we must write at the moment, whether we are tapped into a popular trend or not. Technology has unleashed countless voices because we each have things we must share—even if no one is reading or listening

Often, when the urgency to write is coupled with the skill and time to write, the radars of the masses can be invaded with at least a few minutes of relevance. No one can tell the story quite like you can, and the reader browsing the brick-and-mortar shelves or the cyber bookstore instinctively knows when you have unknowingly reached out and touched them. For them it is sort of like, as Victor Hugo might say, touching the face of God.

So let your words flow forth, and accept the ones you need to hear and read at this moment. The ubiquity of published material does not diminish the timeless worth of words well shared.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007


I have taken the not-so-difficult step of placing my current resume on my Web site. I'm always trying to make it easier for people to know me and get in touch with me. The quick link is:


What will make this more difficult for me is that I find I'm constantly updating my CV; refining this or that, adding a new client or two. I use PDFs now, so each slightly revised CV means creating another PDF which means re-posting it to my Web site via DreamWeaver. Which, in the end, means more work for my buddy Eric Needle (www.giant3.com), who takes good care of all things cyberspace for me!

In a sense my CV is becoming another dimension of my existence. I'm constantly a work in progress; always refining, always updating. In the same way a great movie, book or play is never really finished, our stories continue to be written and updated. What we can offer at any given moment is the best possible snapshot of where we've been and where we hope to be going.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Organizational Development and the Humanities Article

The link below is to an article I just wrote for Linkage Inc.'s monthly "Link & Learn" e-newsletter, which is distributed to about 60,000 subscribers across the Organizational Development (OD) field. It is a snapshot of my current thinking about how the arts have much to teach us about learning and development, and captures the spirit of a workshop I will teach in San Francisco next month.