Back to the Basics


I have been studying leadership for a long time. I have hundreds of books on the subject. While my reading in that field has declined, I still read 20+ leadership books every year. But you might be surprised at some of the books I read. For several of them are pretty basic. It is stuff I already know. So you might wonder - "Why do you read books about what you have already learned?"

Because I am forgetful.

By that I don't mean I literally forget ideas I once knew (although that does indeed happen). But I am "Neglectful." I neglect to remember what I know. You have often heard the phrase, "Out of sight, out of mind." In some odd way that is how the memory works. Here is how I want to tweak the idea for this discussion.

"Out of regular or immediate need, out of memory."

This is the old use it or lose it idea. When I (and when you) don't regularly use what I have learned, I kind of "lose it." It is there, but in being neglectful, I have moved into a kind of forgetfulness.

So I read things I already know because I need to be reminded of them. To pull them out of the dusty, musty basements of memory and bring them to the front living rooms of daily activity. When I do this, I have a delightful experience.

It is not the "aha" of discovery.

It is the "oh yes" of remembering.

It is the sense of being reaquainted with a friend after a long absence. It is the satisfaction of reconnecting. And then, of going deeper. We think we go deep when we are exposed to new ideas and information we did not previously have. No. Not at all. Exposure to new informtion (even complex information) has nothing to do with DEEP.

True learning and development is not simply the gaining of new facts. To go deep, you must reflect on the information you have received. Ponder, consider or meditate. AND you must question, engage, debate, critique, interpret. These things are a different order of learning than acquiring information. 

Unfortunately, too much of our education is acquiring information and not about "meaning making" about that information. Interpretation and Meditation are the means by which information incubates and through a long incubation - transformation emerges.

So I read about things I already know so I will once again make meaning about those things. I wrestle with them (via interpretation) and I imbibe them into my life and leadership (by meditation / reflection).

Still, there is one more step we must take.

For not only am I neglectful, I am also negligent about those things. Neglectfulness (failing to attend to knowledge) will always lead to Negligence (failing to act, respond, choose, live and lead accordingly). To be forgetful is to become foolish. Negligence is worse then neglectful. Foolishness is much deeper than forgetfulness (or even ignorance). To be foolish is to fail to live according to what is true, good and beautiful. To be negligent is to fail in faithful obedience concerning what has been entrusted to you.

So I will continue to read books that have ideas I have already learned. To stir up interpretation, reflection and action. To overcome the human tendency . . .  my human tendency . . .

to neglect and forget . . .
of negligence and foolishness.

What do you need to remember?
What are the basics to which you must return?

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

BrianRice@lcileaders.org