In a recent planning meeting with the Dean of LIOS Judy Heinrich and Organizational Systems Chair Mark Jones, we were reminded of one of the great educators, Parker Palmer. Parker wrote a book and founded a program called” the Courage to Teach.” As we thought about LIOS Graduate College, the phrase “the Courage to Lead” was uttered and it was one of those YES moments. I want to expand upon the concept of “the Power of Yes.” But first, let me begin with the alternatives to Yes.
Our minds know all too well NO (all of us are familiar with the terrible twos that are filled with NO’s); we are quite familiar with the MAYBE’s, the NO-BUT’S, or YES-BUT’s. However, in contrast, there are those YES moments in life that our consciousness can fall into, those YES’s that exist beyond our doubts, the YES’s that have no end. When I speak of “the Courage to Lead,” I am reminded that we must have the courage to attend to, to pay attention to, those YES’s.
Courage as a concept and as a word is rooted in the heart. The head of leadership is more about theories of practice and practice of theories. The heart of leadership, “the Courage to Lead,” is about our values and dreams. It is difficult to talk about courage without exploring fear. It has been said that courage is fear that has said its prayers. Let me tell you a true story about the first tightrope walker (taken from Mark S. Lewis’ commencement speech at University of Texas, 2000).
In 1859 the Great Blondin -- the man who invented the high wire act, announced to the world that he intended to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Five thousand people including the Prince of Wales gathered to watch. Halfway across, Blondin suddenly stopped, steadied himself, backflipped into the air, landed squarely on the rope, then continued safely to the other side. During that year, Blondin crossed the Falls again and again--once blindfolded, once carrying a stove, once in chains, and once on a bicycle. Just as he was about to begin yet another crossing, this time pushing a wheelbarrow, he turned to the crowd and shouted "who believes that I can cross pushing this wheelbarrow." Every hand in the crowd went up. Blondin pointed at one man.
"Do you believe that I can do it?" he asked.
"Yes, I believe you can," said the man.
"Are you certain?" said Blondin.
"Yes," said the man.
"Yes, absolutely certain."
"Thank you," said Blondin, "then, sir, get into the wheelbarrow."
Like that man in the crowd, we often know a lot of things, some with apparent certainty. But also like that man, there will be times in your life when knowing things won’t matter as much as how scary the situation is--and when that happens you’ll have to decide whether or not to get into the wheelbarrow. There are times when, in order to succeed, you will have to trust --when you will have to take a big leap of faith--and when that time comes I hope you will face your fear, say your prayers, and take appropriate action.
What you have earned as graduates of this amazing institution is the ability to move on, to dare to do anything. What you retain as graduates of this amazing institution is the privilege to return any time--to return emotionally, spiritually, or just to visit. And it is what you've learned at LIOS that will in part determine what you do out there.
And my hope is that “your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.”-anonymous
by Marcus Berley
Life as a graduate student is often overwhelming. Take a busy schedule, limited finances, and a daunting reading list, and add in whatever major life transition you are experiencing at the moment, such as a divorce, a death in the family, or a newborn baby. Now, go write a sound, well-referenced, and creative academic paper.
What makes LIOS different from other graduate school programs is that, in addition to balancing a busy life, it challenges students to explore who we are and where we come from. What question have you always wanted—but been too afraid—to ask your mother? What are the rules of your family, and what role do you play? What cultural biases have crept into the crevices of your way of thinking? Well, your homework is to go ask those questions. To your parents. To your aunts and uncles. To your grandparents. Take all of that newly acquired systemic knowledge and apply it to yourself and your most intimate relationships.
Not terrifying enough for you? Well, you’re only reading about it, possibly imagining it, but not actually experiencing it. LIOS is all about experiencing. The theories you read make so much sense on paper, but watch what happens to your insides as you study group theory in a group that is studying itself. Your mind jerks. You scramble to figure out what is going on. Your heart cracks open. A teacher asks you if you have a tendency to avoid conflict, then challenges you to try another method with a conflict that you currently have with another student. Throughout all of this you’re being evaluated on a wide range of skills you’re supposed to be developing. Oh yeah, and it’s ok to cry.
Somehow, you’re doing it. You read and you write papers, and you tell your mother that, even though things have gotten complicated, you love her. You move apartments and split up with your partner or find a new one, you find an internship or a project, and you don’t have much time to look around. It’s graduate school. It’s overwhelming.
And going through it is wonderful preparation for life as a sound, creative professional.
By Diane Moore
A definition of leadership is emerging in my thinking based on several recent encounters with leaders who might not think of themselves as such.
I began graduate school at LIOS in part because I was inspired by a few graduates who awoke in me a sense of “I want that!” They had some way of being I could not articulate. They were powerful and vulnerable at the same time. They spoke about things that I did not know people could speak about in a workplace, like trust and care. It is only after several years that I now realize what I recognized in them. The “that” which I wanted was leadership. They spoke about what mattered to them. And that mattered.
As I watch my thoughts on leadership develop, I encounter my old definition of leadership. My story was something involving a charismatic person in a position of authority: presidents and CEOs, executives and inspiring political organizers. I think we could all name several of these types of leaders.
This story is transforming into recognition that a leader is a person, any person, who is deeply in tune with what arises in them and brings it forward into the world. Leadership is that simple. The complexity, if there is any, is getting out of my own way; to allow that which arises in me to have voice in the world. Even if it is not what is expected of me; even if it does not please the people around me; and maybe most importantly, even if it surprises me, I must not abandon authenticity for consistency.
Three experiences in particular have emboldened this emerging notion.
by David Franklin
I start to see the reaction amongst many people in the West: celebration, rejoicing, time to party, “it’s about time he got what was coming to him.”
Somehow, I get the feeling he (and many other people he was aligned with) were thinking the same things about us after 9/11.
And we hated them for it.
Which begs the question, “why is it then acceptable for us to feel and react that way?”
Are we better than they are? Are we right and they are wrong? Why do we get to claim the “moral high ground?”
Welcome to a new venue where this dynamic and unique community that we call LIOS can be explored and discovered.
In true LIOS fashion, we will see what emerges out of the distinct corners of our community. As an institution that has been around for over 40 years, we have the ability to tap a wide variety of voices, ideas and insights.
"For in community one learns that self is not an adequate measure of reality; we can begin to know the fullness of truth only through multiple visions." - Parker Palmer
We look forward to sharing with you research, articles, musings and learnings that will create that 'fullness of truth' -at least in regards to what it means to be part of the LIOS educational community.
There is also a standing invitation for you to join in the conversation. Isn't it in the dialogue between us that the learning happens?
If you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Jennifer Herron at firstname.lastname@example.org