On September 11, 2001 on United Flight 93, a passenger, Tom Burnett, called his wife from the hijacked plane, knowing that two other planes had crashed into the World Trade Center. “I know we’re going to die,” he said. “But some of us are going to do something about it.” And because they did, many other lives were saved. Their example can inspire and instruct us.
In the Foreword to the book Leading from Within, Madeline Albright recounts this story and adds, “I know we’re going to die” is not a remarkable statement, as any of us could say the same any day. However, Albright highlights as “both matter-of-fact and electrifying” Burnett’s words “some of us are going to do something about it.” Those words, she maintains, “convey the fundamental challenge put to us by life. We are all mortal. What divides us is the use we make of the time and opportunities we have”.
Albright then considers the same question in the context of the relatively recent discovery that the genetic code of a human being and a mouse are 95 per cent the same. She suggests that: “Perhaps each night we should ask ourselves what we have done to prove there is a difference. After all, mice eat and drink, groom themselves, chase each other’s tails, and try to avoid danger. How does our idea of “have a nice day” depart from that?”
She maintains “true leadership comes not from the sound of a commanding voice but from the nudging of an inner voice”. She concludes by noting that: “Opportunities for leadership are all around us. The capacity for leadership is deep within us. Matching the two is this book’s purpose – and all the world’s hope”.
Leading from Within brings together leaders from virtually every sector of society – “tough and tested men and women whose daily work life is chock full of problem solving, relationship building, and make-or-break challenges”. These leaders were invited to tell the stories of how they strive to be authentic. Given the current vogue for authentic leadership writings this might not sound particularly noteworthy. However, what distinguishes the approach taken in this book is that the leaders were invited to provide a favourite poem and a 250-word commentary that describes what happens when they reflect on the poem.
The resulting book was described by Jim Kouzes, co-author of the bestselling The Leadership Challenge and A Leader’s Legacy as “perhaps the most soulful treatment of leadership ever composed. Leadership is first an inner quest, and there is absolutely no better place to explore your inner territory than in the pages of this book. This is an evocative work of art; do yourself an immense favour, and engage with these amazing and diverse leaders and their poems.”
Royalties from Leading from Within support the Center for Courage & Renewal, whose “The Courage to Lead®” retreat is being held in August for only the second time ever in New Zealand. Participants at a recent Introduction to Courage & Renewal said this approach: “Provides the opportunity to reflect on what courageous steps need to be taken to align your outer life with your inner values – excellent”; “Excellent workshop – an opening of the doorway to explore myself in a reflective and deeper way. Highly recommended. The use of poetry contributed to the strength of this workshop”; and “Rodger created a rich and safe holding space to explore living authentically. The day was very well-crafted, facilitating new depth of understanding and awareness”.
The Courage to Lead® retreat starts at 5pm Friday August 28th and runs to 1pm Sunday August 30th at Houchen House Retreat & Conference Centre, Hamilton. You are warmly invited to this rich opportunity to reflect on and revitalise your leadership. This could be one of the best leadership investments you ever make.
You can purchase Leading from Within from: http://www.couragerenewal.org/resources/books. For further information about the retreat see: http://www.couragerenewal.org/events/couragetolead-retreat-2015-houchen/