Inspirational Conversations

I had the privilege of interviewing W. Brett Wilson (Formerly of Dragons’ Den) this past week for an article on entrepreneurship, which will run in the July/August publication of SaskBusiness Magazine. Through my research preparation for the interview I had developed a high level of resonance with Brett’s perspective of business, and I came to a place of expecting a great interview. I was hoping to meet a guy that demonstrated congruency of honesty and integrity throughout the various areas of his life…I was not disappointed.

Brett lives entrepreneurship, but he also seems to have learned key lessons of balance, priority and principle through the battles of business and life. His confidence is obvious, but not as arrogance…just a steadfast tenacity / determination to thrive. Further to this, the thriving seems to be for the purpose of making the world a better place for others to achieve their dreams.

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Understanding Leadership

As I write about understanding the leader’s call, it occurred to me that I should highlight an article that I had published in SaskBusiness this past January, “What Defines Leadership; It begins with personal character“(PDF).

What Defines Leadership: It begins with personal character

“Our business leaders must stop seeking to be the best in the world, and start being the best for the world.”
– Richard Barrett, The New Leadership Paradigm

It may initially sound noble to desire to be the best in the world at what we do. We all know that it takes thousands of hours to master a skill, to hone a craft into a finely tuned art form. To rise to levels of excellence in any vocation, one must be dedicated and diligent in discipline and practice.

To be a great golfer, one must move beyond hitting every shot once in a while, to only missing a shot once in a while. To be a great hockey player, one must understand the strategy of the game, have mastery of personal skill and learn how to move to where the puck is going to be, as Wayne Gretzky puts it.

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Dependence seems to be Maturity

From our cultural perspective…where we are all about self-help, advancement, promotion, and excellence…it may appear to be ridiculous to make a statement such as the one I have made in the title of this blog entry.

I first wrote this phrase into a song several years ago in the context of victory over destructive habits. You may now wonder why in the world I am writing it into the context of a business blog…

In short, I find myself to be tiring of the thinly veiled arrogance that is so much a part of our organizational culture. We can justify much in the pursuit of excellence…and betray the core of our purpose in the process. We can purport to be an advocate for people, and step on people through our advocacy. We can take up a mission of charity, and extort or belittle all who frustrate us.  We aspire to integrity, but constantly betray our values in fear of consequence, or lust for more.

Vocational efforts should be less about our advancement, and more about our role within creation…our service to people and planet. Everyone has a part to play, and all parts are needed. Not one of us is an island unto themselves.

When we begin in our vocational roles, we often charge forward with passion to change the world. As we mature we should at some stage come to an awareness that we need others to collaborate, and therefore we should arrive at a perspective of value and appreciation for others. A deepening of maturity from this point should lead us to set aside arrogance, as we begin to see how much of our life…personal, vocational and organizational…is outside of our control.

On a personal level, explain to me how you keep your own heart beating, or how you jump-started it in the first place. On a vocational level, explain to me how you came to possess the aptitude to acquire the skills and experience that you possess. On an organizational level, explain to me how you could accomplish the mission alone.

An amazing thing happens when we arrive at the place where we become aware of our utter dependence…we become more willing to embrace it. We find ourselves more willing to extend grace, for we will require the same. We find ourselves developing a posture of humility, as we realize how little of our “success” is truly of our own making. We find ourselves in a posture of peace and contentment, less driven and less fearful.

I have had a few encounters recently, with people who have continued in arrogance well on into the senior years of life. Their thinly veiled arrogance blinded them from what they could otherwise have seen. It also pointed to a root of deep personal insecurity. I don’t find myself angry with them…but they serve as an example for what I do not want to become…how I do not want to treat others. In the end, this is all I can control…the surrender of my own pride and fear…to be vulnerable in my dependence…along with the rest of creation.