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Monday, February 17, 2014

The Legacy of a Proverbs 31 Woman

I think it’s interesting that we tend to bookend a person's life with the dates of birth and death. Yet it’s the dash between the dates that determines our Legacy.
We gathered together last Thursday to celebrate the life of Laura's mother - Betty Jo Marsh, our Meme. Meme’s life – the dash between the dates that she lived among us was long and full. 
In fact, her dash was a legacy life: Her life was a blessing to all of us while she was with us, and it will continue to be a blessing for generations to come.
In the bulletin for her service we printed Proverbs 31:10-31. All too often we read that description and it seems rather abstract and removed. But for those of us who knew Betty we saw a Proverbs 31 woman up close and personal.
An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and bless her;
her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
“Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all.”
 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
MeMe lived a Legacy Life: a life that was a blessing to all of us while she was with us and that we will be a blessing for generations to come.
And because of the life she lived,
Her children – and their spouses - rise up and bless her;
And her 11 Grandchildren - and their spouses - rise up and bless her;
And her 21 Great Grandchildren rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her.
Lord thank you for Meme. Thank you for the life she led and the example she set for all of us.
Her finger prints are all over our homes and our hearts.
Let us walk in the Light of Meme’s Legacy!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership - Part 4

In his book, Building the Bridge As You Walk On It, Robert Quinn identifies eight practices for entering the fundamental state of leadership. The final two are described below:
Responsible Freedom     
    • The person who practices responsible freedom is spontaneous and expressive while also self disciplined and responsible.
    • Rather than fleeing purpose, discipline, or structure, this person is self-structuring and tends to be ever elevated to a higher levels of awareness and capacity.
    • In obtaining this higher state, the person becomes more complex and capable, more empowered and empowering to others.
Tough Love
    • This person is assertive and bold, yet compassionate and concerned.
    • This person calls others to higher objectives and standards while also showing empathic, relational support.
    • Others are lifted by the loving recognition of their potential and the challenging call to enact it in a more creative state of purpose.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership - Part 3

In his book, Building the Bridge As You Walk On It, Robert Quinn identifies eight practices for entering the fundamental state of leadership. The next two are described below:
Adaptive Confidence     
    • This person is adaptable and flexible while also confident and secure.
    • The person has the confidence to learn from experience, moving forward into uncertain situations knowing that self and others can adapt and learn in real time.
    • He or she maintains a focus on purpose while experimenting and remaining open to feedback about failure as well as success.
Detached Interdependence
    • This person combines independence and strength with humility and openness.
    • The person has a strong sense of purpose and belief that provides an inner strength.
    • He or she is thus open, but not determined by the relationship.
    • Such detached interdependence allows for rich relationships in which people enable each other in co-creating a future that is best for both.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership - Part 2

In his book, Building the Bridge As You Walk On It, Robert Quinn identifies eight practices for entering the fundamental state of leadership. The next two are described below:
Appreciative Inquiry     
    • This person is optimistic and constructive while also being realistic and questioning.
    • The person seeks to find the most enabling and constructive aspects of the current reality.
    • Appreciative questions tap into the issues people care about most deeply and surface possibilities that have been outside their consciousness.
    • In this way, they unleash energy and move self and others to a more creative state.
Grounded Vision
    • This person is grounded and factual while also hopeful and visionary.
    • The person conceptualizes and communicates a future that emerges from the realities of the existing system.
    • The integration of reality and possibility creates an image that attracts self and others outside the comfort zone and into a state of active creation.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Entering the Fundamental State of Leadership - Part 1

In his book, Building the Bridge As You Walk On It, Robert Quinn identifies eight practices for entering the fundamental state of leadership. In the next several posts I will be providing an overview of the eight practices. The first two are described below:
Reflective Action
    • This person is active and energetic while also being mindful and reflective.
    • While deeply engaged in the world, the person also spends time in reflective contemplation.
    • Contemplation when away from a task increases the capacity for mindfulness this during the task.
    • The person acts and learns simultaneously and is both mindful and energized while actively creating. 
Authentic Engagement
    • This person is principled and ethical while also involved and engaged.
    • The person thus brings a more integrated, whole, or authentic self to his or her activity.
    • When this happens, he or she experiences increased awareness and accesses resources not available in a less integrated state.
    • The person loves what he or she does, which becomes a calling or labor of love.
Are you reflective and active?
Are you authentically engaged?


Monday, January 6, 2014

The Fundamental State of Leadership

In his book, Building the Bridge as You Walk On It, University of Michigan professor, Robert Quinn makes the distinction between the "normal state" and what he calls the Fundamental State of Leadership.

I have summarized the distinctions between these two approaches to leadership in this table.

As you read through the characteristics of the normal and fundamental states, ask yourself which one characterizes your leadership. Better, evaluate what percentage of your time you believe you are operating in each state.

Fundamental State of Leadership vs. The Normal State

 Normal State
 Fundamental State
Self-Focused: I tend to be ego driven, putting my interests ahead of the collective interests in a given relationship or set of relationships.
Other-Focused: I am transcending my ego, putting the common good and welfare of others first, increasing in authenticity and transparency,
nurturing trust, and enriching the levels of connectivity in my networks.
Internally Closed: I tend to stay in my comfort zone, denying external signals for change.
Externally Open: I am moving outside my comfort zone, experimenting, seeking real feedback, adapting, and reaching exponentially higher levels of discovery, awareness, competence, and vision.
Externally Directed: I tend to define myself by how I think I am seen and how well I am able to obtain external resources.
Internally Directed: I am continually examining my hypocrisy and closing the gaps between my values and behavior. I am reaching higher levels of personal security and confidence.
Comfort-Centered: I tend to engage in problem-solving activities, thus living in a reactive state.
Purpose-Centered: I am clarifying what result I want to create. I am committed and engaged, full of energy and holding an unwavering standard as I pursue a meaningful task.

While we may strive to operate in the Fundamental State of Leadership as an ideal, we must admit that most of the time we operate in the normal state.

In our best leadership moments we are there. But we are only there for a moment.

The key is that we must be intentional - there's that word again - about entering the Fundamental State of  Leadership.

We must choose to be other-focused, externally open, internally directed, and purpose-centered.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Confrontation

As you know by now I love to read. As my lawyer friend Mark once told me, "I read for a living." I have this strange compulsion about reading: if I start a book I feel guilty if I don't finish it. I can only remember 2 books I haven't finished. The most recent one is Infinite Jest - not sure I will ever get that one done.

The other one was The Seasons of a Man's Life. I never finished it. But, I have never forgotten when I stopped reading it either. I stopped when I read this sentence:

"If we are to be men of integrity, we must constantly confront our lack of integrity."

I never finished the book. But I haven't forgotten that lesson. It hit me between the eyes and became a lesson that I have taught frequently over the years. A lesson that I taught others over the years.

I have been thinking about this statement a lot lately and I decided that I needed to confront something in my own life.

What does it mean to confront? I found this definition particularly helpful: "to bring together for comparison."

What I am bringing together for comparison is this: For several years I have had an espoused mission statement of Intentionally Investing in the Lives of Others. Yet, if I am honest with myself, I haven't been living that out with the intensity that it deserves.

When I allow myself the discomfort of engaging these thoughts, I hear Coach Carter's voice telling me: "I can't hear what your saying because I am so distracted by what your doing."

(Have I ever told you that I think God's audible voice probably sounds like Coach Carter's? That thought does nothing to ease my discomfort.)

Given this gap between my espoused mission and my slacking effort to enact that mission, I am going to do something to reduce the gap in 2014. I am confronting my own hypocrisy and seeking to close the gap by launching The First Tuesday Project.

I cannot say that The First Tuesday Project is not about me. It is about me; but, its not just about me or only about me. With the help and encouragement of my friend Marc, we are launching The First Tuesday Project and inviting other men to join us in a process of discovering and living a life of intentional impact based on a new definition of leadership.

I am looking forward to what we will learn as we walk through this process together. And, I am confronting my own hypocrisy.

How's that for a New Year's Resolution?