I have a friend who works as the second-in-command at a very small nonprofit. Her longtime and very effective executive director is retiring, and the board is searching for a replacement. I asked my friend if she was nervous about the transition, and she expressed not the slightest worry. She has faith in the board and feels confident that things will work out well.
The death of Nelson Mandela has triggered international recognition that he was a singularly remarkable man. In leading the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, Mandela attracted accolades not only for what he accomplished, but how he did it. He successfully transformed a notoriously racist whites-only government into a multi-racial democracy – with virtually no violence. This was a revolution without bloodshed, characterized by its tone of reconciliation, rather than revenge.
What was behind Mandela’s success? Obviously, he was a man of tremendous intelligence and high character. Clearly, he had an unwavering understanding that South Africa’s future depended on transcending strict racial, ethnic, tribal, and religious identities. But I’m convinced that much of his success derived from his understanding of leadership, something he arrived at as a boy. Continue reading
A few weeks ago I was in California on business, and my last evening there I visited the home of my high school friend Dori, now an English professor at a major university. Dori started telling her 12-year-old daughter about our adventures nearly forty years ago sharing a bicycle built for two. “It was so fun!” Dori said. “It was totally terrifying!” I added.
Our experience, you see, depended on where we sat. Continue reading
I’m an avid reader of the Patrick O’Brian seafaring novels, featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and Dr. Stephen Maturin. People either love these books, or they don’t “get” them, looking on with studied patience as O’Brian groupies go on and on about a particularly magnificent moment in volume 14, The Nutmeg of Consolation. It’s a bit like showing tolerance for an unfamiliar and seemingly inexplicable religious practice. Continue reading