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2016 - Sharpening Discernment & Celebrating World Book Day

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The purpose of a book is to serve as an axe for the frozen sea within us. ~Franz Kafka

The audience I most frequently serve are individuals within a business environment who are working to create more impact from the inside out. So my comments are directed to you. I am an advocate of leaders being readers. As a design it is important that people keep three books in circulation at all times. One book should be a non-fiction book about leadership, business or globalization. One book should be about philosophy - or written by a leader in the past (over 100 years). Finally, one book should be fiction.

The idea here is to be immersed in past, present and metaphor. There is something about critical thinking that requires we put in our minds' rigor and robust content.

I believe your competitive advantage is not what you do or where you work. Your competitive advantage is the accuracy of your macro scan and the way you choose to articulate your life experience. By infusing your mind with robust stimulation regarding current context, past context, and a novel of some sort - your own life will begin to have a more robust vocabulary in which to express itself.

I understand the question was about the rub between exposure and action. Yes, being exposed to content doesn't ensure integration.

Integration of wisdom from reading comes when there are two things:

  1. An explicit declaration of a desire to be better
  2. A commitment to the discipline of practice or routine

An explicit declaration can be either a prayer or a simple statement.

As I continue to contribute at work, may I ______________.
As I lead this team, I desire to _______________________.

Some examples include:

As I contribute at work, may I be more insightful regarding trade-offs and their long term impact. . .

As I contribute at work, may I be more articulate in expressing my concerns regarding _______.

As I contribute at work, may I be wiser and more appreciative of complexity.

As I lead this team, I desire to be brave enough to hear the truth even if it is difficult.

As I lead this team, I desire to be fair-minded.

As I lead this team, I desire to know when to lead and when to follow.

These statements are very personal and they have power. Written down in a private journal - they get even more traction.

The commitment to a routine regarding rigor and critical thinking is important.

As we know:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ~Aristotle

Creating space for both reading and reflection should be capacity designs included in any project maps - be they for personal or professional use. What we value is most seen in the P & L and our personal schedules. It isn't what we say; it is where we spend our money and our time that truly clarifies our priorities.

Clearly in a book,


The most technologically efficient machine that man has ever invented is the book. ~Northrop Frye


Here are some links that affirm the importance of reading as well as some personal recommendations . . .

1) #worldbookday: Thank you Project Gutenberg via Twitter: @gutenberg_org "like a new star it shall ... cause a light"

2) #worldbookday:"Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship~-Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-Generalnd celebrating @RoomtoRead and the commitment to help children read books in their native language preserving native metaphors.

3) #worldbookday: We all remember this brilliant line from Good Will Hunting, "you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on an education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library." It turns our that you truly can get an ivy league education through reading.

4) #worldbookday: Word of mouth rules when kids age 7 to 12 pick a book to read. See what titles kids are reading.

6) #worldbookday: As a matter of fact, robots are learning ethical behavior by exposure to children's stories and the #AI of #ethics

7) #worldbookday: Until #wisewear becomes an app that I can download, I will continue to build my character by reading a page at a time. Here are some books that will ask you hard questions- the kind of questions that cause the kind of pressure bones need for strength.

8) #worldbookday: One of my sources for increasing discernment and critical thinking is Twitter: @farnamstreet - here is their recommendation on How To Read A Book.

9) #worldbookday: I was a freshman at CU Boulder (shout out class '91) when Allan Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind" came out. Required reading shapes identities, communities, and countries - that is why it is so important there be healthy debate on what should be read and why. Here is healthy debate on what college freshmen should read as well as What A Million Syllabuses Can Teach Us.

10) #worldbookday: Leaving you with a project I participated in with Strategy & Business Magazine, a treasure trove of management theory 20 Questions for Business Leaders.

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