painted faceFrom “Now I Become Myself”

Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces.

-May Sarton

In these short lines, May Sarton captures the human challenge to live the life a person was born to lead and not the life others want you to lead.

How many of us have “taken time, many years and places,” living the life our father or mother wanted us to lead or, captive of belief systems, worked in a profession we thought we should? Continue Reading »

Building People

skyscrapers in Dubai“What we need is here.”

The last line from Wendell Berry’s poem “The Wild Geese”

In the Banff Centre’s Leadership Compass, Issue 1, 2010-2011, Dr. Margaret Wheatley, co-founder and president emeritus of the Berkana Institute says in her article, “We Don’t Build People” that the metaphor of building people is problematic and assumes that people don’t have the inherent resourcefulness to solve their own problems.

The metaphor of building typically evokes images of giant skyscrapers, ships, pyramids and other inanimate objects.

It doesn’t evoke images of living things with their unique and innate talents and gifts. Continue Reading »

Psychopaths and Leadership

psychopath characteristics“For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give – yes or no, or maybe –
should be clear; the darkness around us is deep.”

Final stanza from William Stafford’s poem “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”

“A leader is someone with the power to project either shadow or light onto some part of the world and onto the lives of the people who dwell there. A leader shapes the ethos in which others must live, an ethos as light-filled as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A good leader is intensely aware of the interplay of inner shadow and light, lest the act of leadership do more harm than good.”

–Parker Palmer, writer, traveling teacher and activist

On Saturday evening, as my son and I drove home from an outing along the Pecos River in Northern New Mexico, I heard a story on NPR about psychopaths and psychopathic leadership.

Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, interviewed Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry.

Jon quoted Robert Hare, a Canadian psychologist, who invented the psychopath checklist and said that “you’re four times more likely to find a psychopath at the top of the corporate ladder than you are walking around in the janitor’s office.”

Hare’s checklist includes characteristics like glib and superficial charm, grandiosity, manipulative behavior, and lack of remorse. Continue Reading »