The First Post
On July 4, 2004, I posted my first blog post here. I wrote,
"...questions, questions, questions...always questions with you..."
Questions lead to insight, focus, direction and action.
If leaders don't ask questions, then they are going find themselves stuck doing the same old things in the same old way, and missing out on the opportunities that are right before them.
What are the questions driving your work?
This weblog is going to range far and wide looking at the questions leaders either are asking or should.
What's on your mind today?
Amazingly, I've stuck with that aim, to ask questions that can help us better understand what leadership is in the 21st century.
Here are Ten Questions that I have after ten years of blogging.
Let me begin with a question that novelist Walker Percy asked a half century ago. His question still resounds with truth for me.
"Why does man feel so sad in the twentieth century? Why does man feel so bad in the very age when, more than in any other age, he has succeeded in satisfying his needs and making the world over for his own use?"
My 21st. century questions are not much different. However, I'd say the context and answers to my questions are very different. This is why asking questions is essential to living well in our time.
1. Why are people afraid to stand on their own? Why are they so willing to let other people think for them, and be dragged into divisive social / political controversies that have no other end that to secure the status quo?
2. Why are the revolutionaries of my childhood as resistant to change today as those they challenged when they were young?
3. What is it about power and wealth that closes off life from the living?
4. Why is darkness, death and human brokenness so elevated in contemporary film, television and literature, and yet so unacknowledged in our lives? Why are zombies and sociopaths today's (anti) heroes?
5. What would happen if 10% of the population of every nation lived lives of sacrifice?
6. What happens when the world of hyper-reality and the Spectacle of the Real collapses? Will we be free or lost?
7. Why is it so hard to put our values into action? How do we cross the gulf between idea and action? Why is it so hard to do this together, in community?
8. Who do you believe in? Who do you trust absolutely? Who believes in you? Trusts you, absolutely?
9. What do you hope for in the future? Is it a blind hope against hope, or, is it a guiding hope that helps you to answer the questions that face you every day?
10. Where is love in your life? Who do you love without fear or doubt? Who loves you, sees you as you are, and still, at the end of the day, says, "I love you?"?
Over the past ten years, these questions and others like them have become increasingly important. From asking questions like these, I am learning things about life, work, people, leadership and the time we live. Here are ten of those lessons that have changed me as a person.
10. Write to Find Your Voice
Learning to write with one's own voice maybe the greatest means of self-discovery that exists. It took two years of writing my blog before I began to regularly say things that were my ideas, and in my voice. Before, all I did was comment and criticize, which in retrospect, is all that is expected of us today. It has much less value and benefit to the writer and to readers than sharing your authentic voice.
9. Write to Leave a Legacy
To write with one's own voice is to create a legacy of thought which is unique and valuable to future generations. Writing with this purpose is to create an historical marker that says, "This is who I am or we are, right now at this time in human history." The measure of our writing's value is not what people think today, but what future generations will think. I recognize that most of my writing over the past half decade is to those in the future. They will be in a better position to grasp what I've been seeing.
8. Writing is Leading
I define leadership as personal initiative to make a difference that matters. When I write, I want to make a difference. I am choosing to take the time to create posts that can have an impact with people. Writing is an act of the will that overcomes all sorts of emotional and intellectual obstacles in order to affect change in some way. The person who is most often changed by writing is the writer him or herself, and why the leadership of writing is so important.
7. Observations and questions
A blog is a chronicle of our observations about life. To write well, we must have something we want to say well. That something comes from the questions we ask, and the observations we make. This requires us to think for ourselves, and listen to others' perspectives with a critical, yet fair, ear.
6. Crossing Boundaries, Exploring the Frontier
We all live with boundaries of thought and expression imposed upon us by people who have no direct relation to us, and, yet, claim some kind of personal, familiar, cultural or intellectual authority over us. As a writer, and as a person, one of the most important things to do is to deny the power of those who would silence your voice. Stand up, and with conscious purpose, obliterate those boundaries that confine you in the prison other people's fears and prejudices. Go, in writing or life, and pursue the farthest, wildest frontier possible. Do not settle. Do not be satisfied until you have discovered your authentic voice.
5. Writing in context
Context is important for any kind of communication. In writing, there are many contexts. There is the style on the page which organizes the words in an inviting way. There are social, cultural, philosophical, historical, familial, ideological and spiritual contexts to writing. Each provides a landscape for perspective and understanding for what the writer presents. It is, therefore, essential that the writer understand the time and place in which they write.
4. Writing is Personal in a Social setting
I write for myself, but always with particular people and groups in mind. My writing is a sorting out of my observations, reading, thoughts and feelings that need order. I am doing this within a social context that helps me to better articulate my thoughts. I've learned that to have a voice is to speak, and to speak is not to hear one's own voice, but to let others hear it. In so doing, a connection is made that can become more deeply personal in the best sense.
3. Tell a Story
My writing is my story. It is not just the story that I'm telling you my readers, but, more importantly, it is the story I tell myself, to remind me of who I am, what matters to me, and how I choose to live my life. The writing is one facet of the story I am telling myself. Without it, I would be lost.
2. Writing is an Expression of Three Desires
My writing is a expression of the Three Desires - Personal Meaning, Happy Healthy Relationships and to Make a Difference that Matters that are a part of the Circle of Impact Leadership perspective. I write to discover the meaning of my life, work and relationships. Through my writing, I have come to see that Integrity, Intimacy and Generosity are values that define who I am. Those values guide me through my relationships and help me to know the impact that my life and work have. Without writing this blog, I never would have found the mental and emotional space to discover these deep truths for my self.
1. Write for Love
I write because it brings pleasure, peace, purpose and progress to my life. In other words, I write for love as an expression of my gratitude to be one person living at this time in history. Without love, the words mean nothing. With them, everything.
The Next Ten Years
I know that over the next ten years, I will not post another 1200 posts. I will continue to write. My plan is that over the next 18-24 months, to take posts that I believe have value beyond the moment of their publication, and rework them for republication in some form.
A Word of Thanks
Thank you. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my posts. Every post I publish, I do so with the sense that no one will ever read them. But you do, and your comments to me in various ways is very gratifying. Thank you again for honoring me with your time and attention.
My advice to each of you is that you write. Write in some form, in some way that helps you discover your voice. Begin by writing a chronicle of your own thoughts and observations. Carry a notebook around. Write down words and phrases, draw pictures, all for your own benefit and remembrance. Take pictures that help you to remember the context of some observation or conversation. Listen, watch, ask questions. You'll find something that calls you to write. When you do, share it with someone. Share it with me, if you want. Let your life grow through the questions that drive you through pain, suffering, love, and joy. Be honest and real, and you'll find what you did not know you were looking for.
Again, thank you. Now onto the next ten years.