This One

egg“I Am Not I”

I am not I.
I am this one
walking beside me whom I do not see,
whom at times I manage to visit,
and whom at other times I forget;
who remains calm and silent while I talk,
and forgives, gently, when I hate,
who walks where I am not,
who will remain standing when I die.

–Juan Ramon Jimenez

Translated by Robert Bly

Juan Ramon Jimenez was a Spanish poet who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1956.

This is my favorite poem of his because it addresses beautifully the gap between who we let ourselves be and who we could be.

I interpret the “I” as the ego and “this one” as the soul.

No question this poem has a mystical aspect. But this poem also touches upon the practical aspect of being authentic.

Being an authentic leader comes from not being divided or being two-faced. It comes from integrating our inner and outer lives and being whole.

When I sense wholeness and authenticity in leaders, I trust them more. Don’t you?

Where there isn’t trust, people act in protective behaviors, are political, and are competitive with peers even when it is detrimental to the group. Continue Reading »

The Way Leaders Are Programmed

“In the context of building a team, trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another. The vulnerabilities I’m referring to include weaknesses, skills deficiencies, interpersonal shortcomings, mistakes and requests for help.”

–Patrick Lencioni, Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Last month I facilitated a session on high performing teams for Leadership Santa Fe, a 9-month community leadership program that includes leaders from the public and private sectors.

I showed a power point slide with Lencioni’s quote and talked about what leaders must do to build trusting teams. I said the leader must model the way. The most important action a leader must take is to demonstrate vulnerability first.

Bob, a stock market investor, raised his hand and said that he agreed with me “but what makes it hard is that this is not the way we are programmed.”

By “we” Bob was referring to male leaders. Men are programmed to think of vulnerability as weakness. Our cultural norm doesn’t see it as strength. Many of our celebrated cultural heroes are tough guys, Rambo-like figures. Continue Reading »

David Broder, Good Sense and Beggars & Kings

David BroderDavid Broder, the Washington Post reporter and syndicated columnist, who died last Wednesday, was one of the best-known political reporters of our time.  I enjoyed his columns because he was reasonable, intelligent and fair. 

Broder loved voters.  He once said “that the American people don’t always have all the information in their hands, but their judgment is just about always sharp.  You’ll find that they don’t make a hell of a lot of mistakes.”  Broder had a lot of faith in the good sense of the average American.  He was no cynic.

I feel the same way about the good sense of the average person about poetry.  Although I value the views and company of poets, my experience has been that an MFA in Poetry is not always an asset.  Sometimes I receive better feedback and suggestions for improving my poems from my wife and other non-poets than I do from poets. 

Non-poets, who have other things on their mind than the technical aspects of poetry, can be quick to say if a poem is clear and heartfelt, two attributes of a good poem.

Good ideas can come from anyone.  Too often in groups, organizations and communities we only turn to the experts and only seek answers from the leaders.  We act as if the persons with the titles and credentials only have the solutions. 

Continue Reading »