August 2014

Moral Therapeutic Deism

moral therapeutic deism God, Christian SmithAnd How You Might Be One Too...

Moral Therapeutic Deism (after this MTD) is a phrase that comes to us via Christian Smith and his team's research in to the spiritual lives of American teenagers.  Smith and his team found out that MTD is the real religion of teenagers who claim to be Christians.

Sarah Arthur, in her great book - The God Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry, gives a brief explanation of the three core ideas of MTD.

The Critics in Your Life

They Come to You as Blessing or Lesson

Criticism is a fact of life. You will be criticized. And you will be a critic. I like to borrow a wonderful phrase and apply it to when you are being criticized. 

Some people come into your life as blessings.
Others come into your life as lessons.

Some critics come into your life as blessings.
Others come into your life as lessons.

On Growing Older

Very near the end of his memoir, Still Surprised, Warren Bennis provided this wonderful and wise thought from Edith Wharton who reflected about old age.

In spite of illness
In spite of the arch enemy, sorrow,
  one can remain silent long past the usual date of disintegration, if one is:

unafraid of change,
insatiable in intellectual curiosity,
interested in big things
and happy in small ways.

For those of us who are settling nicely into those "late middle years" and marveling that time goes by, quickly,

may you be unafraid of change,
may you be constantly curious and thoughtful and learning
may you have your heart and soul enraptured with the great things that matter most
may you be constantly surprised by and happy in the small gifts of daily life.


Enter At Your Own Risk

In his memoir, Still Surprised, Warren Bennis tells the story of Charles Kettering, a great leader, inventer and life long learner who endowed the Antioch Library so others could learn. Kettering did not want to have a plaque for the building, but when he finally relented, the words he chose said:

Charles Kettering, enter at your own risk

That is what we need to know about books, libraries, schools, seminars . . . anything that is a learning environment.

Learning can be hazardous to your comfort zones.

Learning will stretch you, empower you, reorient you, correct you, challenge you, irritate you, stimulate you, send you off and running in new directions, and generally be repsonsible for a great deal of CHANGE.

Adult Learning: 9 Common Fears That Hold You Back

Life Long Learning, Note 07

When I was in high school, now I know I had some fears about learning. Now in my "late middle age years" it is hard for me to imagine that I ever had these fears about learning. So I am caught off guard when I talk with adult learners and discover they have some of these fears.

It turns out that if you do have some fears, you are not alone. In fact, you are in the majority. Here are the Top 9 Fears About Learning as Ronald Gross maps them out in Peak Learning.

Overcoming the Barriers to Creativity

I thought this article from Fast Company was very good on creativity. Practical, insightful, helpful to deal with the barriers we all face to creative work.

Check Out Six Ways Your Brain Tries to Kill Your Ideas and How to Fight Them

Just one of the ideas is on the power of execution vs. having a brilliant idea. This little chart (in the article) is excellent.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International


Leaders are Learners: Three Motivational Lessons From Warren Bennis

Life Long Learning, Note 06

What is great about this post (for me) is that Warren Bennis was one of those early and sustained sources of learning. He guided me in my own learning about leadership and my work at being a leader. I would read what he said, and I would try it out. I would engage with his most inspiring ideas and I would seek to put them into practice. Warren Bennis helped me understand that leaders are learners and that great leaders are great at learning. Here are three thoughts and some commentary about them.

Warren Bennis quote, taking charge of your learningONE:
Leaders learn by taking charge of their learning.

Warren Bennis: People Leadership

Warren Bennis quote, great leaders make people feel they are at the centerLeaders don't simply lead organizations. Leaders lead people. People are the heart and soul of the organization, its energy and the passion and they are the ones who make it possible for the organization to continue its existence.

Therefore, great leaders are leaders of people.

Bennis expresses this insight with this thought.

"Great leaders make people feel that they're at the very heart of things, not at the periphery. Everyone feels that he or she makes a difference to the success of the organization. When that happens people feel centered and that gives their work meaning."

Warren Benis: Over-managed, Under-led

The issue of leadership and management has attracted many of our greatest minds who have come to a vareity of conclusions on the nature of these two tasks.

Warren Bennis clearly maps out his position on leading and managing. If you click here, you can see an article where Bennis provides some of the differences between management and leadership.

Warren Bennis quote, failing organizations over-managed under-led


Warren Bennis: Leaders Shape Reality

Warren Bennis quote, leadership is the capacity to translate vision into realityWarren Bennis is one of the originators of modern leadership. He was the founding chairman (and professor) of the Leadership Institute of Southern California. He is the author of over 30 books. His great contribution was to write in ways that were accurate, personable, interesting and accessible to the non-academic. In other words - he wrote for leaders living at the EDGE of where the action was. 

Bennis died a few weeks ago. I did a post with links to some thoughtful eulogies. I am running a short series of posts on some of his great thoughts. In each post I will also mention one of his great books that are well worth reading.

7 Characteristics of Life Long Learners (Part Two)

Life Long Learning, Note 05
Picking up from Note 02 and the first three qualities, here are four more. (If you missed Part One, be sure to read it first!) 

(1)  Love to learn
(2)  Open, curious, interested, teachable
(3)  humble and self-aware of limits and needs

While many of these posts on LifeLong Learning are short and have one point, I also provide some longer reflections that cover more territory and are therefore, a little longer. Today is a little longer.

Try SingleTasking for Greater Productivity

single tasking, multi tasking, productivityI often speak of the "unreality" of Multi-Tasking. That is not how the brain works.

Here is a Fast Company article on How Single-Tasking Boosts Your Productivity.

It is a very substantial article with great ideas. It has some striking statistics as well as useful links for more lessons on this. It is very CHALLENGING on how we need to be rigorous in how we use the internet and social media... which has been described as "an ecosystem of interruption technologies."

Whether You Fail or Prevail...

Jim Collins quote, whether you prevail or fail, personal responsibilityLife Long Learning, Note 04
I have a recent conversation with a young leader. This person has some real gifts and has been working on those gifts. I was actually pretty impressed. They are REALLY working on their personal development.

So I asked them - why? Where is the energy coming from that fuels their commitment to the hard work of personal development. Again - I was quite impressed with what he said. 

Smart People Know How Much They Need to Learn

Life Long Learning, Note 03
When INTELLIGENCE is combined with HUMILITY - that is a beautiful and powerful combination. Unfortuanately, too often that combination is absent. Intellectual pride is certainly a problem...a rampant one at that. In many cases:

Smart people tend to want to be seen as "smart."
Smart people don't like to be wrong.
Smart people are offended when others challenge their "smarts."

But Smart and Humble people - now that is differnet!
They are the life long learners.
They are the ones who are wide open to learning from any and all sources.
They are the ones who don't mind being corrected. After all, it is not about being right, it is about learning and growing. 

Get Better

excellence, personal growth, learningYou are always either:

Growing or Declining.

Living or Dying.

Improving or Deteriorating.

Gaining Wisdom or Becoming Foolish.

Innovating or Stagnating.

Jesus talked about two roads. One is narrow and one is broad. The entry way to the narrow road is challenging. The entry to the broad way is wide open and inviting. There are hoards of travellers on the wide road. Only a few are on the narrow road. The narrow road is the road to life. The wide road is the highway to destruction. Of course Christ understood himself to be the entry way to the narrow way, the Way itself, and the final destination of LIFE.

Lots of Little Decision Making Wears Out Your Brain

tired brain, switch taskingOne thing I learned in The Shallows by Nicolas Carr is just how much energy the brain has to expend in "SWITCH TASKING." The idea of Multi-tasking is a myth. That is not how the brain works. Instead, every time you shift focus to something different, the brain goes through a swtich, where it has to reload into operational memory, the information you need. When you shift your attention to something else, the brain goes to work, switching out ideas that are not needed and switching in what you do need for the new task.

Too much SWITCH TASKING makes your brain TIRED.

7 Characteristics of Life Long Learners (Part One)

Passionate, Curious, Humble
Note 02: Life Long Learning

Not only am I a life long learner, but many of my closest friends are as well. That is why they are my friends. I value this so much, I seek out relationships with others who are excited to learn and who enjoy the interchange of the exciting ideas which stimulate our own personal growth.

Here are some of the characteristics I have seen in my friends. If you would get to know me, you would see these same features in my own life.

Some Recent Reading for Me

A Calendar of Wisdom, TolstoyHere is an update of reading over the last two to three weeks and the things that have been shaping my thoughts and devotions.

A Collection of Wisdom by Tolstoy
This is in the form of a daily devotional reading that has best thoughts Tolstoy collected over a long time from the great literature of the world. The quotes are quite uneven in their substance. In some ways, Tolstoy seems to be very ecclectic in his position on faith and religion. Jesus is probably, for him, just a great moral teacher and is not the unique Savior of the World.


Who is Wise, Strong, Rich?

That is...According to the Talmud!

Here is the answer.

I may be making some progress. I am however grateful, the Talmud did not ask - Who is Holy? or - Who is Humble?  or _____________.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International


15 Things to Give Up If You Want to be Happy

Here is a list of 15 Things to Give Up if you want to be happy.

I want to change one word in this and say, give up these 15 things if you want to be a good person, a person who makes a positive difference in the lives of others, who wants to leave the world a better place than how you found it. 

Oh yes... and if you become a good person who adds values and makes a difference, it is very likely that you will experience deep satisfaction and genuine happiness.

Look them over.
Which ones have you already given up?
Which ones are next on your To-Give-Up List?

Which ones do you think will be the hardest to give up?

Women and Millenials - Why We Need Them in Leadership

women in leadership, millenials inleadershipHere is a bonus for today. A short but provocative article on why we need more women in leadership and more millenials in leadership. 

Click here for the article from Fast Company.

As is the nature of all short articles, it just scratches the surface. 

Click here for the site that has the research to which she refers.

But still... these are the important conversations well worth having.

Waking Up Insanely Early

early morning alarm clockTry It and See What You Think?

Here was a recent article that I recommend and which I also found a little amusing.

The recommendation that I like is to try and wake up Insanely Early to get a great launch to your day.

What I found a little funny was the personal illustration of getting up at 6:30 as the author's insanely early time.

If I get up at 6:30 I am about 90 minutes to two hours behind schedule.

Still, the idea recommended is a good one.

Warren Bennis (Great Leadership Innovator) Dies at 89

Warren G. Bennis, leadership authorWarren Bennis is one of those innovative teachers and authors who helped change how we think about leadership... and really how we LEAD. When I was first learning about leadership, his books were accessible (written in non-technical ways), motivational and instructional.

You can see many of the books he wrote at his author page on Amazon.

His book - On Becoming a Leader was one of THE most influential books for me in my own early learning and development as a leader. Later I devoured his books,

Introducing a New Series of Posts on LIFE LONG LEARNING

Life Long Learning - Note 01

One of the core values that has always shaped my life is that of life long learning. Even when I didn't know of this phrase, I was in a learning mode. I love to learn. Learner, ideation and intellection are two of my Strengths-Finders strengths

The illiterate of the 21st century, lifelong learning, Alvin TofflerThree of my favorite quotes will introduce this series of posts.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn. Alvin Toffler

The capacity to learn is a gift;
The ability to learn is a skill;
The willingness to learn is a choice.

Briah Herbert

When Positive Thinking Hurts You

Naive Optimism and a Better Alternative
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 28

Pop Leadership!
When simplistic tag lines become wisdom, then those who teach them play the fool. Shame on them and on those who buy in to the jargon.

There is a lot of pop leadership trite thrown around. What makes it a challenge is that in most cases, it has some basis in truth, but it takes the PIECE of reality and turns it into the WHOLE of reality. A useful principle becomes an unchallengeable dogma. Here are two of those SLOGANS you hear all the time.

When you are a part of an organization that is in decline, being positive when things are falling apart - that is not leadership - that is naive, ruinous foolishness. Don't let a cute poster saying tell you otherwise.