Category Archives: Leadership

…independent will as the high dream in action…

“Walking… | Walking with you… | Walking with you… | in my Praying” – Christian Hymn, anonymous

The high dream of conscience is the “WHAT-CAN-BE” dream that fills us with hope, and purpose, and desire —  and for most of us — we take ourselves off the hook by assuming the “WHAT-CAN-BE” dream is an unreachable ideal, a vision of perfection.

But still, we can’t really let it go.  Most of us have a bad case of “the hopes.”

Conscience is a profoundly driving motivation. Why? Because the high dream of mutuality and sharing binds together our deepest feelings of security and certainty.  It’s the “peaceable kingdom” that lies behind religious aspiration.

Life loving life requires doing whatever it takes to persist; life loving life brings together security and certainty so that peace can be maintained.  And, as I mentioned earlier (see …conscience as life loving life…), life loves life – NOT the conceptions we bring to it.  The unreachable ideal, the perfect vision … they’re not the point.  It’s more about action, about the specific actions we take — given the context which our high dream offers us.

So, as I turn my focus to Independent Will, (the third of the four human endowments), I want to put some attention on the importance of action.

Creative Imagination, Conscience, Independent Will, and Awareness would have little meaning were it not for action.  And given our skepticism and desire to run away, the high dream may not disappear, but we DO lose sight of it temporarily.

Here’s an example:  John put a $1000 in the market.  He got a “hot” tip.  He rode it up some 20%, and got nervous.  He was told that this stock should double and maybe even quadruple.  But John was already anxious about losing what he earned. He tried leaving it alone, but when it reached $1,500, he sold it.  A short time later that initial investment was worth $4000.  John sold too soon.  But he was ahead in the game.   John thought to himself, “I can always try again.”

Action made the high dream come alive AND it also made John fearful.  Something could be taken away.

Yesterday morning, I read an article. It trumpeted the headline: “The new American Dream is no longer about seizing opportunity but about realizing perfection.”  The commentator distinguishes between equal opportunity (that democratic drive to treat one another equally) and perfection (that undemocratic drive to realize an outcome).

And, as the commentator pointed out, in a competitive marketplace we lose IF we fail to meet perfection.  The high dream of shared mutuality is now untouchable because the dream, itself, is no longer about people.

My immediate reaction was to ask: “Can anyone find peace in that?”  Equal opportunity offers at least some way to honor mutuality and peace – but perfection?!?

So action then, must speak to our high dream while at the same time offer some sense of humility. Perfection doesn’t offer humility. Nor does our desire to over-reach – especially when we act out against one another by choosing to over-reach.

Consider my high school senior quote: (Robert Browning) “Speak as you please, what does a mountain care? | Ah, that a man’s reach may exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for.”  I have long understood that over-reaching is part of human condition.  And for better or for worse, there is a persistent sense of hunger built into our high dreams, a hunger that drives us on … searching for life’s peaceable kingdom … (or so I hope).

So what becomes of our high dream? … I guess we’ll find out.  But I will tell you this:  It has something to do with action and choice.

Independent Will, as Stephen Covey defines it, is the action we bring to bear when we exercise choice.  It’s the action we show by being resolute.  It’s the statement we make through our actions because REALLY … we have no other voice.

The peaceable kingdom (as life loving life with security and certainty) is offered to ourselves and others … or it is taken away.  And, of course, there are many ways to “be in choice.”

The hymn, quoted earlier, offers one possible way.  But be aware!  The hymn implies two simultaneous actions: “Walking… | Walking with you… | Walking with you… | in my Praying”

If we want there to be any peaceable kingdom, then “action” must include both.

Thanks for listening!


…conscience for the sake of what?…

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”  —  Warren G. Bennis

Very often it hard to name exactly where our impulses originate.  We have conscious intentions and unconscious ones.  And, try as we might, our desire to evaluate —  to be conscientious and to do the right thing — is really difficult.

So eventually we have to ask ourselves:  “Conscience for the sake of what?”  What are we trying to realize by “doing” the right thing?  Which voice really supports us “the most” anyway?

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…resetting the drive…

“If we had no faults of our own, we would not take so much pleasure in noticing those of others.” — François de la Rochefoucauld

In my last blog (…nature or nurture …), I talked about Freud’s drive theory .  And I have more questions now – like “how do you reset your drive?”

Freud’s drive theory has been widely discredited.  They say he misses the point.  He fails to understand that drives are really the expression of relationship.  The dynamic which arises within us (and feeds our drives) is one of attachment and separation.  The central question which psychologists concern themselves with is whether our formative relations provide us with healthy and graduated challenges or whether they impede normal development, blocking the cycles of attachment and separation.

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…submission and surrender…

“Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?  Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”
— Lao-tse

Every path we take requires submission and surrender.  This “easy-to-miss” reality is one we often resist — mostly because so much is at stake — and because submission and surrender often feels so very much like freedom and release once we let go of our fears.

Someone, I’m sure, is rolling their eyes in disbelief.  “How can it possibly be said that submission and surrender feel the same as freedom and release?”  There is no way that you can make those words plausible as synonyms.  It can’t be done.

And I understand the disbelief.

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…framing our trust so it can deepen…

“Desire is proof of the availability…” — Robert Collier

In case you missed it, my last post was about the movie, Big Fish (a 2003 father and son drama by Tim Burton, starring Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, and Jessica Lange, see …trust and its release …).

I looked at that movie because it illustrated the mystery of trust – both our capacity to extend trust and in our ability to release it once it no longer serves.

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…of miracles and thankfulness…

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

I want to go back to an earlier blog (…sufficiency? or more than that?…). 

That particular blog looked at sufficiency, scarcity and excess and I’m increasingly coming to realize just how much our feelings of prosperity and poverty have to do with these differing approaches to living in the moment.

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…the Prodigal Son and our one distinctive something…

‘There is a part of every living thing that wants to become itself — the tadpole into the frog, the chrysalis into the butterfly, the damaged human being into a whole one.  That is spirituality.”
— Ellen Bass

Part of “becoming ourselves” is choosing to be more than the one thing we want to become.   It’s hard enough to conceive of our underlying unity as something real and worthy of our attention and notice, AND it’s entirely something else to embrace that one thing … knowing it’s really a multiplicity.

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