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Welcome to nc’s blog. Read, comment, interact, engage. Let’s learn together - recursively.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


 No, I'm not going to talk about fishing.

Perspective exists in two different dimensions: 1) our ability to consider something against the broader contexts and 2) our ability to consider something against a lot of other individual somethings.

Healthy perspective results from our careful consideration of something - an event, a product, a process, a person - both against the "grand scheme" and many individual others. It's sort of macro and micro at the same time.

Unhealthy perspective results when we choose NOT to look at things from as many angles as possible. Myopic viewpoints always miss a lot of important data. 

Disciplined minds insist that the embrace of healthy perspective prevails. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021


 I recently read The Beauty Underneath the Struggle: Creating Your BUS Story, by Niki Spears (2020). 


NS was a student of mine when I taught in the UT Austin Principalship Program several years ago. She has learned to leverage her many and significant gifts to make the world a better place. This book is evidence of her impact on others.


My top takeaways:

- We are the editors of our own lives, with not so much power to re-write or undo the previously “published” part, but GREAT latitude in writing the next chapters.

- FEAR is the premier disabler of progress and prosperity.

- The most meaningful rewards come with significant risk.

- Practicing gratefulness pays dividends both inwardly and outwardly.

- We are wise to protect ourselves from low-level conversations.

- Choosing an positive attitude is a superbly healthy practice, and it makes us more attractive companions to others. 


Some of my favorite quotes:

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour. (p. 7)

“Don’t believe everything you think.” (p. 67)

“Nothing different will happen in your life unless you’re willing to do something different.” (p. 132)

"S versus S. Is this choice serving me or stopping me?" (p. 135)


This book serves as a wonderful reminder that WE are editing our lives, daily writing the script for that which is to come. We are editors, not victims. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021


I recently read Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teaching of Plantsby Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013). 

RWK is of native American heritage (Potawatomi). She is also a research botanist. In this book she blends her science-based understandings of life with the ancient wisdoms gleaned from the teachings of her heritage. The result is a remarkable work of knowledge reconciliation, with the effect that the science she understands so well makes the best and most sense when studied in the context of the wholeness of creation. 

My top takeaways:

-Ceremonies represent a way for us to “remember to remember,” they marry the mundane with that we hold sacred.

-Ceremony has the effect of converting attention to intention.

-Wisdom is best thought of as a compass – providing orientation – not as rules or commandments.

-It is immensely useful to think of plants, animals, fish, all of creation as beings(just not human) rather than things and resources; they are nonhuman persons vested with awareness, intelligence, spirit.

-Compelling new research is yielding the truth that plants really do talkto each other.

-Reciprocity is the currency of relationships.

-We understand fully only when we understand with our mind, body, emotion, and spirit; that is indigenous wisdom.


My favorite quotes:

“It’s not just land that is broken, but more importantly, our relationship to land.” (p. 9)  


“Restoring land without restoring relationship is an empty exercise.” (p. 338)


“To name and describe you must first see, and science polishes the gift of seeing.” (p. 48)


“Food plants and people act as selective forces on each other’s evolution—the thriving of one in the best interest of the other. This, to me, sounds a bit like love.” (p. 124)


“To be heard, you must speak the language of the one you want to listen.” (p. 158)


“Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligences other than our own.” (p. 300)  


“But I know that metaphor is a way of telling truth far greater than scientific data.” (p. 368)


Braiding Sweetgrass was one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in the last few years. That makes me happy.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


 Leadership is hard. Servant leadership is harder.

Wise servant leaders know well that success almost always comes as result of impactful, effective, and efficient work done by TEAMS of capable and committed folks. 

So, what do servant leaders need from those team members?


-Zealous pursuit of the organizational vision

-Learn, then teach others, on a continuous loop

-Ask consequential questions, then listen discerningly to the answers given

-Commit completely to continuous improvement

-Build bridges relentlessly, build walls only as anomalies

Notice that these elements are more about mindset, attitude, and disposition than they are about skills or knowledge. 

Wise servant leaders are always on the hunt for folks who are willing and able to play by these rules. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021


Communication is the primary medium of leadership. It is the most impactful tool we have at our disposal by which to foster trust, to invite participation, to fashion vision, to reinforce right thinking and behaviors.

Wise leaders learn to effectively communicate (and constantly improve those communications skills) through multiple media.

Here are some important considerations as we sharpen our communications skills and add to our communications toolbox:

-The language we use can serve to clarify, or ambiguitize. We get to choose.

-The language we use can be positive and uplifting, or negative and de-energizing. We get to choose.

-The language we use can be invitational and inclusive, or off-putting and silencing. We get to choose.

-The language we use can bolster reflective discourse, or encourage superficial cliche-ity. We get to choose.

-The language we use can be expressed just as effectively without words as with them. We get to choose.

Did I mention that we are wise to continually be improving those communications skills?

Did I mention that we get to choose?

Sunday, July 4, 2021


 As leaders we often find ourselves dealing with two distinctive kinds of folks on our teams: Stoppers and Goers.

The Stoppers constantly serve as a drag on progress. They resist change (of any kind), they block initiatives, they hold up progress in both overt and covert ways, they squelch forecasting conversations. Stoppers make us feel like we're stuck in mud, and they seem downright giddy about that stuckness.

The Goers are the ones that are ready to push each and every idea forward, zealously. They never hear a bad idea. Goers don't take the time to think through logistics. Goers act as if the quantity of tasks undertaken somehow trumps the quality with which they are undertaken. They resemble waterbugs on a pond, darting around energetically and relentlessly, but with no discernible purpose or direction. 

Most teams have both kinds of folks. The worst and unhealthiest of teams have too much of one and not enough of the other. The healthiest of teams have leaders who understand both the Stoppers and the Goers, and they understand that keeping both archetypes at the table, in the conversation, and engaged in the work is the surest pathway toward judicious improvement.

Navigating the organizational tension between the Stoppers and the Goers is one more thing that compels us in leadership to LEARN - learn to understand others even better than they understand us.