December 31, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
Happy New Year to you! May 2012 be a time of growth and great leadership for you.
Thank you for following me this year – and for your passion and commitment to make a difference in our increasingly complex world. We need your leadership and work to make it a better place. We need your efforts to help steer the ship to fruitful and safe harbors. The leadership professor is glad to play a small part in supporting your professional development and important contributions.
My holiday gift is a suggestion for a powerful read: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, the recent winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize.
The book’s jacket claims it is so compelling a novel that it begs to be read in a single sitting. I found that to be true – and that’s exactly what I did (although it wasn’t my plan when I began). And when finished, I reread the first chapter – and will probably reread the entire book again soon.
It’s an amazing story (and a short, “precise” novel at 162 small pages) that goes to the heart of leadership: how we understand and make sense of ourselves and our place in the world – and how time and happenstance ask us to return to our past, rethink the story we have told ourselves about it, and revise memories in preparation for a different future.
[Want more about the connections between sense making and leadership effectiveness? Check out posts on it in the blog archives. It’s a foundational set of understandings.]
Quite simply, we lead best when we know ourselves and understand what drives our choices and their consequences. Self-reflection and personal growth are the path to get us there.
So take an afternoon for a terrific read — and think about who you are, how you lead (or could), and why.
You’ll be rewarded with beautiful prose – I plan to reread the book with notebook in hand to record some great quotations. You’ll strengthen your leadership by learning important things about human nature and probably about yourself.
A teaser from early in the novel to whet your appetite: We live in time – it holds us and moulds [sic] us – but I’ve never felt I understood it very well. . . . And yet it takes only the smallest please or pain to teach us time’s malleability. Some emotions speed it up, others slow it down; occasionally, it seems to go missing – until the eventual point when it really does go missing, never to return.
Onward to great accomplishment in 2012!