strengths“Most people think they know what they are good at. They are usually wrong . . . And yet, a person can perform only from strength.”

–Peter Drucker

I’m fascinated with the concept of strengths and the book, Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie.

Although the book has been around since 2009 and the strengths finder assessment has been around even longer, most leaders aren’t familiar with the concept or know how to apply strengths.

Leaders tend to be problem solvers, which leads to being deficiency obsessed. Rather than focus on deficiencies and weaknesses, which will most likely not go away, leaders gain more leverage when they focus on the strengths and gifts they and others bring and capitalize on them. Continue Reading »


crown fire


What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.

So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.

When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible.

We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

-Judy Brown

Fire is on my mind. I live in Northern New Mexico. Because of extreme drought, we have fires in the mountains all around where I live. This morning I went outside to ash falling from the sky. Last night I went to bed with a view of fire on the mountaintops by Los Alamos, 30-40 miles or so away. The mountain ridges looked like the cone of a volcano.

Judy Brown’s poem is about a different kind of fire and addresses a different kind of theme about fire. Her poem is about giving space, a light touch, and not micromanaging. It is about allowing what is to be.

Image: Jim Staley

Journeying Together

tetter totter

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

I love this poem. It speaks beautifully to finding your own voice and path.

A problem, however, with the poem’s message is that it suggests that other people are a hindrance to this pursuit and suggests that each of us has to journey alone.

Certainly, other people can be a hindrance, especially those who tell us where to step on our journey, “though the voices around you/kept shouting/their bad advice.” Advice is usually unhelpful. Your path is not my path and vice versa. Continue Reading »