Tag Archives: On Becoming a Leader: The Leadership Classic

The Necessity of Change: Thoughts on an article by Dr. Dean Ornish

Dr. Dean Ornish wrote an interesting article for The Huffington Post entitled, Something Good About the Economic Meltdown, in which he addresses the transformative powers of pain and adjusting one’s life habits.

Warren Bennis, in his book, “On Becoming A Leader,” has a line, “Everywhere you trip is where the treasure lies.” This means that when you find yourself up against some kind of life obstacle: a challenging experience, tough decision, “stressful” experience – it is wise to look for the learning opportunity in the face of the obstacle. That is, not letting the troublesome experience overcome you, but learning from it and adjusting the way in which you might interpret it. Generally speaking, this quotation is fitting for the economic crisis. For Ornish, the crisis in the USA is a painful blow to many individuals, families and businesses, but, perhaps, it is a pain that we can learn from (in align with Bennis). Dr. Ornish writes that with the coming of a painful experience, “There is an enormous clarification process that often leads to healing.”

It is hard to say what this “clarification process” entails and how it manifests itself in the individual, but a base level explanation is that it alters one’s habits – one’s ways of thinking and doing. It is the process of realizing that one’s life is not fully embedded in the imagined past or in the imaginary future, but grounded here and now in the reality of the moment. And, in light of this process: Only when it becomes necessary, do people really change (inspired by Lee Thayer).

Ornish also writes, “If anything good comes out of this financial crisis, if any meaning can be found beyond learning to live more frugally, it may be learning to value collaboration over competition, and selflessness over selfishness.” Perhaps, this economic crisis has been a wake-up call for the USA to reach out and connect more fruitfully with the global community – to admit, that “going it alone” is not the right strategy in a globalized world, that we are interconnected on different levels.

Hopefully, instead of getting sucked into vicious circles of harmful addiction, depression, media-fueled anxiety and so on, we can strive to see the “treasure” in this financial “trip” while working to make our own lives and the lives of those around us better and better.

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Learning: Becoming an Integrated Person

Yesterday, I posted an article featuring “five quotations for your learning pleasure.” Today, I would like to look into and “open up” one particular quotation, which is by Warren Bennis. The quotation, from his book On Becoming a Leader, is, “Taking charge of your own learning is a part of taking charge of your life, which is the sine qua non in becoming an integrated person.”

What Bennis means by this is that “learning” should not be something that is wholly dictated to you by certain others: teachers, parents, friends, and so on (although there is always the excuse to blame others if you don’t learn what you needed or wanted to learn). Learning is the process by which you grow competencies, which enable you to mind the world in new ways. That is, new things learned produce new thoughts or new angles on old thoughts. Thoughts change with what you learn and how you use what you learn.

This kind of active learning demands curiosity and discipline – necessity. Or, sometimes learning is as easy as “tuning in” to the world happening around you and minding your habits of participation and interpretation. Moreover, who you talk and listen to, the people you spend time with whether through books, the television or in “real life,” also form the limits of what you can learn.

For Bennis, self-learning, that is, learning that is driven by you, builds you and shapes your ways of minding the world. I am tempted to say that, what you actively and passionately learn will change the you that you currently are. If you use computers a lot, yet find yourself stuck in your use of new applications, then, taking the time to learn about those applications and how to use them efficiently will alter the situation from helplessness to a sense of control over the situation. In this way, you are integrating yourself more fully into your life situation. How are you doing with what you have learned?

AFTER THOUGHTS

If your life “feels” broken and you want to pick up the pieces, pay attention to those broken areas and focus on doing what it takes to mend those broken areas. If you don’t know how to fix them, learn how and set about fixing them the best ways you know how.

If there are things that you would love to learn about or do, then why aren’t you doing them? Simply keeping them may not be moving you toward them. Probably, as humans, we are always in a state of learning as we take things in moment by moment. Persistently directing your attention and efforts to the things that you want or need to learn (i.e. doing what needs to be done to learn them), is a step in consciously moving your life where you think it should go.

What you do with what you learn is what other can know about you.

More information about something does not always mean you have learned more about that something. What is meant by this?

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