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Wednesday, December 29, 2021


I recently read The Wisdom of Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – A New Perspective on Christ and His Message by Cynthia Bourgeault (2011). 

In this book, CB (an Episcopalian priest) takes us on a journey of understanding the life and work of Jesus in ways that challenge assumptions and traditionally held constructs. 

My top takeaways:

·      Jesus teaching and actions challenged almost every previously held conception of God’s perspective of humans and His intentions for us. Jesus was a rule breaker and an assumption challenger – across the board.

·      The practice of Christianity is evolving. I have heartily accepted the ever-changing nature of this world and of humans, yet I have doggedly held to the belief that discipleship was somehow immune to the changes that time brings. Oops!

·      New findings of ancient texts (e.g. Nag Hammadi) are adding greatly to our understandings of Christ.  

·      As the practice of the Christian faith spread after the Passion, it began to assimilate the worldviews of the various portions of the planet to which it crept. My western upbringing has insulated me from and/or biased me against other “conceptions” of Christian discipleship being practiced in other parts of the world.

·      Jesus was more focused on how we should live than on the concept that His life and death was primarily meant as a sacrifice enacted primarily to “save” us.  His message was not so much one of repentance but one of returning to right relationship with God. 

·      The parables of Jesus can be thought of as “spiritual hand grenades,” which Jesus used not to confirm but to uproot previously held conceptions of the faith walk.

·      My binary view of God and Me (as two separate entities) should give way to the conception that it is WE (the two melded into one). That relationship is not about score keeping, but rather, about coexistence. 

·      There are many elements of The Passion of Christ that I have completely missed during my 50 years of faith walk. 

·      The wall between Life and Death is paper thin; both sides being permeated by Love.

·      There are numerous faith practices – Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Chanting, Psalmody, etc. – used by disciples around the world to deepen their faith. All require a calming of the mind and a mental and physical slowing of pace. NOT my strong suit.


My favorite quotes:

“Whatever theological premises you may or may not choose to believe about Jesus, the primary task of a Christian is not to believe theological premises but to put on the mind of Christ.”


“He [Christ] surrounds, fills, holds together from top to bottom this human sphere in which we dwell…The entire cosmos has become his body, so to speak, and the blood flowing through it is his love…Jesus in his ascended state is not farther removed from human beings but more intimately connected with them.”


“You can either harden and brace defensively, or you can yield and soften internally…The first response will plunge you immediately into your small self, with its animal instincts and survival responses. The second will allow you to stay aligned with your heart, where the odds of a creative outcome are infinitely better.”


“Jesus never asked anyone to form a church, ordain priests, develop elaborate rituals and institutional cultures, and splinter into denominations. His two great requests were that we “love one another as I have loved you” and that we share bread and wine together as an open channel of that interabiding love.”


This book was a much needed mind (and spirit) bender for me. It caused me much reflection, and I suspect it will continue to.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


Some of the very best human beings I know embody two powerful dispositions: they are both Humble and Strong.

Here is what I see in and from those Humbly Strong folks:

  • They invite and embrace difference. Diversity does not scare them. They exude confidence that there is plenty of room at the table for all.
  • They do not seek the spotlight (though it often finds them).
  • They intensely focus on serving others, consciously choosing to be givers rather than takers.
  • They voraciously seek new knowledge and understanding. 
  • They are generous to a fault, freely sharing their resources (both tangible and intangible) with others. 
  • They are keenly aware of our minuteness in the grand scheme of life. They feel the greatness and connectedness of THAT that is beyond our humanness. 
  • They exhibit gratefulness and deference every day, in myriad ways. 

Models most worthy of our emulation: Humble, yet Strong.

Monday, December 20, 2021


"Did you ever get so busy driving that you didn't take time to stop and refuel?" 

I once heard the late Stephen Covey pose that question to an interviewee. As was his habit, SC brought to our attention in a metaphorical way an important insight into healthy living and productive working.

Thinking about my lifelong penchant to try to get "more blood out of the turnip" than is really there, here are some of the things I've seen others do that represent healthy approaches to refueling.

  • They take frequent "reset" breaks -- mentally, physically, and emotional-spiritually -- during the course of each day (usually breaking work into increments of intense focus lasting no longer than 90 minutes).
  • They purposefully build movement into their day (e.g., standing while reading documents, taking a brief walk down the hall, doing a bit of yoga or stretching, using a stand-up desk, eating lunch outside, etc.).
  • They toggle into each day some diversionary learning that is separate from their work, such as reading a favorite blogger, watching a TED Talk, reading from a daily devotional book, etc.
  • They periodically spend a few minutes, if briefly, engaging with others in an authentically interpersonal way.
  • They pay very close attention to what they put into their body by way of food and drink, making consciously healthy choices.
  • They prioritize their workday by placing the most difficult tasks at the front of the day, working their way toward the less demanding ones as the day progresses.
I've tried most of these strategies. Admittedly, I've been a slow learner in many respects. 

Yet, I am proving to be somewhat educable. 

Happy learning!

Thursday, December 16, 2021


The folks I know who seem the most self-actualized, the happiest, the most at peace are the ones who spend an inordinate amount of time serving others. 

As I watch, and learn from, these service warriors, there are some commonalities I find in their behaviors and thinking. If we (you and I) are inclined to become better servants to others then we might consider some of the following "practices" of the uber-servants I have observed:

  • They practice the art of persistent others-awareness (and spend very little time thinking about themselves).
  • They care not for praise or adulation for their acts of service; in fact, they typically abhor such attention.
  • They are keen and discerning "observers," carefully mining for opportunities to help, even in the most mundane of acts/expressions.
  • They are generous -- with their time, with their attention, with their resources (both tangible and intangible).
  • They do not rank others, but rather, think of and treat ALL as equals on the planet.
Some powerful lessons to be learned from those who are perfecting the art of Service. Their actions truly do speak louder than their words.

Ours can, too.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


Some leaders have a way of persistently humiliating the teams they work with.

Here are some of the common humiliating acts that represent a beat-down to the team:

  • Relentlessly finding fault and assigning blame.
  • Framing failures as character flaws.
  • Constantly upstaging others.
  • Providing unsolicited advice, publicly.
  • Claiming success for the work others have done.
Wanna build a strong and functional team? Don't do that stuff.

Wanna attract and hold high-performing team players? Don't do that stuff.

Wanna propel your organization upward? Don't do that stuff.

Finally, removing the "I" and the "Me" and the "My" from almost all conversations is a good starting point.

Humiliating others is a sure move toward circling the drain.

Thursday, December 9, 2021


I recently read The Choice: Embrace the Possibleby Dr. Edith Eger (2017).


This book is a memoir by EE, who was a survivor of Auschwitz in the 1940s. She later migrated with her family to the U.S., eventually earning a doctorate and become a licensed psychotherapist. 


My top takeaways:

·      The hunger to be free, embrace life, and to know and be ourselves is the fundamental desire of humans.

·      Suffering is universal but victimhood is optional.

·      Expression is the opposite of depression.

·      Stress is the body’s response to a demand for change.


My favorite quotes:

“All your ecstasy in life is going to come from the inside,” my ballet master had told me. (p. 37)


“A good definition of being a victim is when you keep the focus outside yourself, when you look outside yourself for someone to blame for your present circumstances, or to determine your purpose, fate, or worth.” (p. 204)


“…Our painful experiences aren’t a liability—they’re a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength.” (p. 237)


“Time doesn’t heal. It’s what you do with the time. Healing is possible when we choose to take responsibility, when we choose to take risks, and finally, when we choose to release the wound, to let go of the past or the grief.” (p. 263)

Eger’s story of survival, resilience, and forgiveness is simply amazing. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021


One of the realities of leadership is that the hard calls land on our door step.

The easy decisions will almost always get made down on the third floor, out in the shop, at the distribution center, in the classroom, in the field, etc. 

The more difficult the decision, the more likely that it gets kicked up the food chain. Ultimately those tough calls walk through the door of the leader. The logic is usually (and perhaps rightly), "that's why you make the big bucks." When faced with those tough calls, the menu of options is dependable short and remarkably ugly.

Good leaders, strong leaders, accept this reality and make the tough calls. The best leaders do so with the greater good in mind. The best leaders clearly articulate their rationale for the tough calls made, which engenders the trust of those they work with and around. Not everyone will agree, but most everyone will understand (and be thankful that they did not have to make the tough call).

The worst leaders I know, however, when faced with the inevitable tough calls, deflect, delay, lay blame on others, try to dodge, whine, and even get angry that they were called upon to do their job. Trust is NOT the word that others feel toward them.

Leadership calls for character, and for making hard decisions. If we don't wanna make the tough calls, then we shouldn't sign up for the job.

Thursday, December 2, 2021


Leaders that traffic in fear are imposters. They attempt to use fear to control those they presumably lead. Such positioning is designed to broaden the leader-follower power differential. Leaders who traffic in fear do so to increase (artificially) their leverage and control over followers.

The best leaders I know embolden us and enable us. They insist that, together, we can overcome extraordinary challenges. They invite us to be our best and strongest selves, rather than our weakest and most dependent selves.

Fear-based leadership is all about enhancing the status of the leader. 

Leadership that encourages us to be bold and exercise our best gifts to overcome obstacles is all about empowerment.

There's plenty of examples of both to observe and learn from.