Bette George & Associates, Inc.                                                                                                                        (703) 734-0101

April 2008               ---------------   Issue 15  ---------------     

"We must be brave enough to start a conversation that matters and trust that meaningful conversations can change your world."
Meg Wheatley

Welcome to Conversations on Leadership and Life, my newsletter that I hope will become a favorite of yours. In each issue, I will offer best practice tips and resources, innovative ideas and inspiration to help you begin to create the change you want to see in yourself, your workplace, and your community. My goal is to engage you in a meaningful conversation about what matters to you in your work and your life.  My hope is to make this a two-way conversation, so e-mail me at to share your ideas, success stories, favorite resources and anything else that inspires you to greatness.

Feature Article: Leadership as a Way of Life

"To set out boldly in our work, is to make a pilgrimage of our labors, to understand that the consummation of work lies not only in what we have done, but who we have become while accomplishing the task."
David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea

Poetry Corner

I dwell in Possibility—
A fairer House than Prose—
More numerous of Windows—
Superior-for Doors—
Of Chambers as the Cedar —
Impregnable of Eye—
And for an Everlasting Roof—
The Gambrels of the Sky—
Of Visitors-the fairest-For Occupation—This--
The spreading wide my narrow Hands—To gather Paradise.
         Emily Dickinson


The Leadership Wheel
by C. Clinton Sidle



The Art of Possibility  
by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander


Leadership: The Inner Side of Greatness
by Peter Koestenbaum


by Peter Senge,  Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, Betty Sue Flowers

Theory U
by Otto Scharmer


Leadership From the Inside Out
by Kevin Cashman

Tom Chappell left the corporate world in the 1970s to found Tom’s of Maine, a socially and environmentally responsible business in natural care products.  The compelling story of his Hero’s Journey is told by Clinton Sidle in The Leadership Wheel. Starting with a loan of $5000, Chappell has built a $40 million dollar business that is widely acclaimed for environmentally safe products and caring work environments.  Yet in the mid-80s, he hit a wall. He describes himself as judgmental, controlling, prideful, and a defensive know-it all.  Mostly, he was unhappy...his heart was no longer in it. His misery led him to Harvard Divinity School where he spent four years connecting to what he calls “goodness”—goodness in himself and in other people.  It was a transformation of heart and mind that has inspired a new management philosophy aimed toward serving others. His leadership is now about making customers, employees, and suppliers just as important as profits. He has rebuilt his business with a new mission, vision, and values for his company that are an integral part of life and work at Tom’s.  His efforts have resulted in a new culture characterized by deep caring for employees, genuine participation in company business processes, and supportive relationships for everyone to live to full potential.  According to Chappell, “it doesn’t matter what business you are in, you can have a respectful attitude about society, nature, and people.”

The leader’s journey often begins with a wake-up call just as Tom Chappell’s did.  A life transition or crisis of some kind causes us to question what we are doing, how we are doing it, and where we are headed. In fact, these are the very questions my leadership coaching clients are exploring.  Some are being affected directly or indirectly by the economic downturn and are looking to make a more conscious and informed decision about their next career step. Several are at mid-life/mid-career and are seeking more fulfilling work, work that is of service to the greater good.  Others have been promoted into new leadership positions or are being groomed for leadership roles in their organizations.  They come to coaching seeking skills to become more competent and something more— to figure out who they are and why they’re here. 

Now don’t get me wrong...most don’t say that exactly.  The deeper questions about work and life emerge through the coaching conversation as they identify their unique gifts and connect with what matters most to them.  These days we’re talking about connecting to the “capital S Self” and the “capital W Work” — the root of creativity and leadership, according to Michael Ray who has been called  “the most creative man of Silicon Valley.” The Self means our highest self, our Self that is in touch with our own basic goodness.  “Capital-W Work” is not necessarily your current job but your purpose, what you are here on earth to do. Truly great leaders who have made lasting positive contributions to the world, have a deeply held value system that is grounded in the belief in the goodness of human nature. “The Heroic Journey is to learn first to see, and then to take our seat in, our intrinsic nature, our own basic goodness and authentic presence,” says Clinton Sidle. Coming from this place, we have the capacity to recognize and connect with the goodness in others for we can move beyond self-interest and serve in ways that inspire trust and confidence. 

The challenges of our world demand socially responsible leadership— balanced and principled leadership that emerges from our inherent desire to seek a better world and to lead from a place that acknowledges the basic goodness in ourselves and in others. “As the dominant force in the world today, business is our most important leverage for making the changes and leadership is the fulcrum.  Leadership is the vehicle through which people can become fully human and transform organizations into movements of the human spirit.” 

This kind of leadership is meant for everyone, not just the people at the top—and it develops from the inside out. It’s about an attitude toward life and a way of living in the world.  Leadership development in this context is about transformational learning—learning that is very relevant not only to our work but to how we lead our lives.  The Leader’s Journey is a call to wake up, get in touch with your capital S Self, discover your capital W Work, and bring forward your unique gifts to make a difference in the world. 

Are you ready to answer this call?    

“The salvation of this world lies nowhere else but in the human heart.”
Vaclav Havel

Leadership Lessons: Be A Contribution

Ben Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra  and his wife, Rosamund , a therapist, have written an gem of a book called The Art of Possibility, in which they point to the fact that any accepted model for doing things comes with an implicit set of rules, and these rules govern our behavior just as surely as the rules of baseball govern the movements of players on the field.  The nature of games is to provide a framework for engagement, expression and growth.  When we play a game, we agree to a set of limitations to create a challenge.  The fun part is that they challenge us to adapt and hone our skills “whisking us away from the grimmer or more mundane context of the everyday.”  So the purpose of describing your professional life or your family traditions as a game is that you can instantly shift the context from one of survival to one of opportunity for growth.  You also can imagine other games you might prefer to play. Naming your activities as a game breaks their hold on you and puts you in charge.  “Just look carefully at the cover of the game box, and if the rules do not light up your life, put it away, take out another one you like better, and play the new game wholeheartedly.” 

Ben came up with the game called I am a contribution after his second marriage fell apart—a crisis that jolted him to change the rules that had guided his life since childhood.  In winning the game of success he was haunted by the fear of failure-- questioning his worthiness, wondering if he was loved for who he was or what he had accomplished.  This undertow of anxiety exists for many of us because the drive to be successful and the fear of failure are inseparably linked.  The pressures of the game created immense suffering for him and those around him.  Realizing finally that he could change the “game” altogether, he conceived of a new game called I am a contribution.  “Rather than judging yourself by the standards of others, in the game of contribution you wake up each day and bask in the notion that you are a gift to others. Naming oneself as a contribution produces a shift away from self-concern and engages us in a relationship with others that is an arena for making a difference . 

The Practice: Be A Contribution

Week One

  1. For seven days, simply notice when you are a contribution
  2. At the end of each day jot down anything you said or did that you can call a contribution. No judgment…only describe yourself in light of contribution.

Week Two

  1. Declare yourself to be a contribution.  Throw yourself into life as someone who makes a difference, accepting that you may not understand how or why.  Like a pebble in a pond imagine that everything you do sends ripples out beyond the horizon.
  2. At the end of each day, write down how you have “contributed.” 
  3. At the end of the week, reflect on the effect of naming yourself as a contribution.

“Those who have a WHY endure any HOW, but it is the Why that is difficult.” Friedrich Nietzsche


Perhaps this question intrigues you, or confounds you, or even scares you a bit?  Knowing the WHY is what gives leaders the authenticity, the magic, and the power to achiever great things. Discovering that “why” is the trick-- in many ways the whole trick. Set aside time dedicated to discovering your “why.” 

Here is a process from The Leadership Wheel to guide you.

Identify your purpose.  Your purpose is how you choose to use your innate gifts to make a difference in a cause that has meaning.  A purpose based in deep personal values becomes a source of strength, inspiration and power.  Being conscious of a driving purpose gives energy and commitment to achieve the extraordinary. 

List some personal characteristics you feel great about. These should be nouns.

Examples:  expertise, energy, courage, strength, enthusiasm, creativity, sense of humor

        I have _____________________________________________________________ 

1.      List ways you successfully interact with people.  These should be verbs. Examples:  teach, serve, lead, support, collaborate, inspire, produce, plan, motivate
I ______________________________________________________________________    


2.      Visualize what your perfect world looks like.  What are the people doing, and saying.  Write a description of this perfect world.  My perfect world is ______________________________


Ex. “All people honor and respect the goodness in themselves and each other and work together in care for this planet, our home.”

3.      Combine two of your nouns, two of your verbs, and your definition of your perfect world.    

My Life Purpose is 





                                                                        (Exercise from Ken Blanchard & Clinton Sidle)

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Conversations on Leadership and Life is an e-newsletter written by Bette George of Bette George & Associates.  In each issue, Bette offers best practice tips and resources, innovative ideas and inspiration to help you begin to create the change you want to see in yourself, your workplace, your community.

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