About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

03 September 2009

The Strength to Lead, the Courage to Die

According to Be, Know, Do: The U.S. Army Leadership Manual:
"Leadership starts with what the leader must be; the values and attributes that shape the leader’s character. Leadership is a matter of how to be, not how to do."
A boots-on-the-ground example of what that really means comes from a story told at an early Masters Forum session by David Kirk Hart, former professor at BYU's Marriott School of Management:
"When the British pulled out of Israel, the Israelis went to war with all the Arab nations. A small Israeli raider company became trapped in a very bad firefight, 70 men against 1500. The raider commander said, 'We've got to retreat.' In a retreat, you call upon somebody to stay behind and cover the retreat. The commander of the Israeli unit was a man named Naham Arieli - you should remember the name - and Arieli gave the retreat order which later became the creed of the Israeli officer corps. The retreat order was, 'All of the enlisted men are to withdraw; the officers will cover the retreat.' One officer got off the hill alive. In an age of golden parachutes, in an age of sacking and pillaging the firm to be sure the CEO and the second financial officer are okay before announcing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, that's noblesse oblige."
  • Name a person whose courage has inspired you. Explain.
  • What heroic qualities do you possess? What scares you?
  • What is the most difficult ethical or moral decision you've ever had to make?
  • What do you continually get away with?
  • What was a significant crossroad in your life? What path did you take and why?
  • What would you be willing to die for?
"Perhaps because warfare has played a central role historically in the development of our conceptions of leadership and authority, it is not surprising that the ancient linguistic root of the word 'to lead' means 'to go forth, die.'" - Ronald A. Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers
"There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk “his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor” on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else." - Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
"You can be obsessed by remorse all your life, not because you chose the wrong thing - you can always repent, atone - but because you never had the chance to prove to yourself that you would have chosen the right thing." - Umberto Eco

No comments: