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Flourishing Update - April 18, 2018


I’ve been thinking about my successes and failures lately. Just taking general stock on the state of the art and trying to tell myself the truth. How might I best or better frame my inner dialogue? Coach Don Shula purportedly said “success is not forever and failure isn’t fatal.” Maybe I am making this up but I think he also said something like “we should take a full 24 hours to celebrate our team victories and 24 hours to commiserate our loses, then get on with doing, being and daring what we are called to do.” I might have enhanced this just a bit.

What might we offer to leaders, boards, or organizations that will encourage them to gain perspective on the past, with an eye to the future? For me, these conversations come up in the context of succession planning, leader transitions, critical event reviews, personnel assessments and in informal coffee times with leaders where I hear the equivalent to: “I am in a funk.”

Steven Sample (readers may recall his 2003 book and appearance at Willow Creek Summit, The Contrarian’s Guide to Leadership) and the late Warren Bennis, who has been ennobled as the father of leadership studies by some, interrogate the notions of success and failure in their 2015 book, The Art and Adventure of Leadership: Understanding Failure, Resilience and Success. This book was helpful to me. There are redefinitions of success and failure, views on leadership complexity, avoiding herd failures, seeing “baked-in” systemic failure, and views on redeeming failure. All these and other elements made this a commendable book.

Dr. Keith Walker, is Professor of Educational Administration & Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan.

We’re Reading…

Mindful Alignment

Sabre Cherkowski, Kelly Hanson,and Keith Walker

While Mindful Alignment (2018) is specifically aimed towards an educator audience, it is fair to say that many of us are functional educators in our own spheres. The notion of mindfulness has been around for a long time (in its various expression and interpretations). For some it has Eastern religious connotations, for others it bespeaks breathing and distressing exercises, and for some it is a welcomed alternative to the all too common manifestation of mindlessness.

This book suggests that job crafting, personal disciplines, and attention to self-care, relationships and strengths provide for flourishing, even in the midst of suffering, struggle and challenge.

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