Are you an Eagle?

To: The Great Leaders Who Have a Passion for Continuous Learning

My friend and Mentor Michael Reuter Leadership Professor at SHU shared this

Allegories are those beautiful stories and poems that capture our imagination and open our eyes to new insight and meaning about ideas, concepts and realities. Great leaders enjoy the richness that they offer. The allegory of the eagle invites great leaders to reflect on the meaning of change.

The Eagle has the longest life span of its species. It can live up to 70 years but, to reach this age, the eagle must make a very difficult decision. In its 40th year, its long and flexible talons can no longer grab prey which serves as food. Its long and sharp beak becomes bent. The feathers become old, thick and heavy. The thick and heavy feathers stick to its chest and makes it difficult to fly. Then, the eagle is left with two options: die or go through a painful process of change. The process lasts for 150 days (5 months).

The change process requires the eagle to fly to a mountain top and sit on its nest. Then, the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until it plucks it out. Then, the eagle will wait for a new beak to grow back and then it will pluck out its talons. When the new talons grow back, the eagle starts plucking its heavy and thick feathers. And after this….. the eagle takes its famous flight of re-birth and lives for another 30 years. Why is the change needed? To survive and live.

The allegory is powerful and dramatic in its message fervently captured in the words of W. Edwards Deming: “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” Great leaders have a deep realization of the world around them. They know and feel the weight of their own feathers and the sharpness of their beaks – their approaches, tools, beliefs and visions. They continuously reassess what is and will be needed to achieve their life’s purpose. They know that change is a choice, and also a necessity. They understand and have internalized the words of Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” In their life they have chosen to be, as Mahatma Ghandi said, the change they want to see in the world.

Be the One

§ Who doesn’t blame others before gaining engagement from the team to resolve the crisis… and then asking what could have been done differently
§ Who doesn’t define success through the eyes of others
§ Who is humbled by accomplishment and understands that leaders give credit far more than take it
§ Who doesn’t accept the status quo… just because things have been done this way a long time
§ Who has the courage to ask… whatever the question should be
§ Who chooses to embrace failure to let you get better
§ Who leaves a mark on everyone you connect with and who is a catalyst for change
§ Who seeks to make a difference each and every day you walk this earth
§ Who doesn’t give up… who perseveres
§ Who always walks the truth
§ Who always encourages honesty, inspires passion and lives with integrity…

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are

This was sent to me by Michael Reuter of SHU director of Leadership Development

To: The Great Leaders Who Have a Passion for Continuous Learning

In his Leadership E-Bulletin Greg Thompson brings poignant emphasis to Stephen Covey’s words: “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are??or, as we are conditioned to see it.” He writes of the impact of James Allen’s book, As a Man Thinketh, in which he writes of the transformative power of thinking positively and its impact on character, health and relationships. Allen wrote: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is…. A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”

Recognizing the power and influence positive thinking has on leadership, Thompson invites great leaders to ask questions about what they think about various facets of their life.

Are your thoughts your ally or your enemy?

What are your thoughts about your organization? Do you think about it as a chaotic, messy institution or a diverse, creative community?
What are your thoughts about leadership?
Do you think about it as an entitlement to power, privilege and wealth or as a calling to serve others?
What are your thoughts about others?
Do you think of them as flawed pawns on your chessboard or as wonderfully gifted and unique partners?
What do you think about your work?
Do you think of it as an inescapable chore or as a way to live out your purpose and legacy?
What are your thoughts about the future?
Do you think about it as a road lined with countless perils and menacing enemies or as a once-in-a-lifetime adventure?

“As a leader, when you change the way you think, others will change the way they act!” Thompson states. It is our garden to grow, to seed, to nourish. Thompson writes: We are the masters of our own mind… we are the authors of our day-to-day thinking patterns.” Let’s plant a magnificent garden and be awesome authors of our thinking. As Barry Kaufman tells us: “The way we choose to see the world creates the world we see.” May we choose wisely and well.

Leadership Excellance

My friend and Mentor Michael Reuter Leadership Professor at SHU sent this to me.

Confucius wrote about excellence: “The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.” Erica Brown in her book, Take Your Soul to Work, writes that “excellence does not come in a one-size-fits-all-package” and shares her thoughts on the four difference ways excellence can be understood using the perspectives of four famous people.

Relative Excellence: We are probably not excellent, but we’re a lot better than any other game in town (Dolly Parton: “It’s hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world.”)

Instrumental Excellence: We are not committed to excellence for its own sake but for the same of efficiency (John Wooden: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”)

Aspirational Excellence: We set our standards so high that they become unattainable. (Vince Lombardi: “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”)

Focused Excellence: We cannot accomplish every goal, so we need to determine what we really can do best and be laser-focused. (Steve Jobs: “We don’t get a change to do that many things, and everyone should be really excellence. Because this is our life.”)

The perspectives suggest a slight situational look at excellence and this may apply throughout the journey of great leaders. Martin Luther King Jr., however, paints a portrait of the excellence to which all great leaders strive and role model in their lives: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’” Excellence is a commitment to giving oneself completely, unconditionally and passionately to everything, great and small, that we do in life.

Focus on the Journey

Words from my wise friend, Michael M Reuter Leadership Development Director as SHU.

Great leaders know Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous words about life’s journey: Life is a journey, not a destination.” Greg Anderson adds to this writing: “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

Pause for a moment in these words: “Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Intellectually, great leaders know their truth and value. Unfortunately, the doing drive in the great leaders’ lives sometimes overshadows this reality, and precious moments of life are lost to the focus on the ultimate goal of completing the act. It could be the action of a physical exercise: I need to run today, or I need to go to the gym. It may be a visit to see someone to say hello. It could be a dinner commitment or a meeting. If the mindset is simply focused on checking the activity off of our calendar, we will have missed the joys, learning, love and beauty of those precious moments.

Anderson tell great leaders: “Only one thing has to change for us to know happiness in our lives: where we focus our attention.” This is the simple key to incredible joy and happiness – to stop, pause and say to ourselves, “It’s about my journey. Enjoy each precious moment.” It is that simple. In all that you do, be mindful of each precious moment of your magnificent journey.” Remember always, life is a journey. Make it your mindset. In everything that you do, start with the reminder to yourself: Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride.

Being Authentic,being Cause, Being Committed, Being Integrity

My mentor Michael Reuter Director of Leadership at Seton Hall writes:

In the Insigniam Quarterly’s Disruptive Leadership Issue, Werner H. Erhard and Michael C. Jensen share their thoughts on The Four Ways of Being That Create the Foundation for Great Leadership, a Great Organization, & a Great Personal. Life. The power of their message is in their focus is on being not on doing. For it is in extraordinary being through which exceptional doing flows.

Being Authentic – Being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself out to be for others, and who you hold yourself to be for yourself.

Being Cause In the Matter of Everything In Your Life – Being Cause in the Matter is a stand you take on yourself and your life. A stand is a declaration you make, not a statement of fact. Being Cause in the Matter is viewing life from and acting from the stand that “I am cause in the matter of everything in my life.” Being willing to view life from this perspective leaves you with power. You are never for yourself a victim.

Being Committed to Something Bigger Than Yourself – Being committed to something bigger than oneself is the source of the serene passion (charisma) required to lead and to develop others as leaders and the source of persistence (joy in the labor of) when the path gets tough.

Being A Person or an Organization of Integrity – Integrity for anything is the state of being whole, complete, unbroken, sound, in perfect condition. For a person and any human organization, integrity is a matter of that person’s word or that organization’s word being whole and complete — nothing more and nothing less. Integrity is required to create the maximum opportunity for performance and quickly generate trust.

What beautiful simplicity and awesome power in the being we choose: authenticity, being the cause in the matter of everything in my life, being something bigger than myself and being a person of values. It is in the great leaders’ hands to choose. Steve Maraboli writes: “You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self, to live out your purpose and to do it courageously.” Be more than you ever dreamed you could be… and more… so much more.

Buddha tells great leaders: “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.” Be that candle who lights the world and burn brilliantly with passion and love of life and for those whom you serve. Life is so very good.

You Have Everything You Need

My good friend and Mentor Michael passed this on to me:

​J.M. Barrie in his 1904 book, Peter Pan, writes: “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” The relationship of Barrie’s words to leadership is found many years later in Stephen Covey’s definition of leadership: “Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” It is this beautiful and profound belief that great leaders have of themselves – that joyous understanding of who they are in all our extraordinary gifts and human imperfections and what they can achieve. The belief gives boldness, daring and they eyes to see the world differently, a world than can be. Bob Moawad wrote: “The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on , or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you along are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”

Remember always: “A bird sitting in a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.” May you soar high and always believe in yourself. Embrace the words of Ayn Rand: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” Fly with majestic and powerful wings. The world is yours. We are what we believe. On your journey, it may be necessary to take counsel from the words of Ann Bradford: “Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.” Please take care – “You have everything you need, if you just believe.”

6 Questions that will set you up to be super successful

My good friend and mentor writes:

To: The Great Leaders Who Have a Passion for Continuous Learning.

In his recent blog posting, 6 Questions That Will Set You Up to Be Super Successful, Marshall Goldsmith writes: “When it comes to self-reflection, asking yourself active questions rather than passive questions changes the focus of your answers – and empowers you to make changes you wouldn’t otherwise consider!” Passive questions are those which “can cause people to think of what is being done to them rather than what they are doing for themselves.” His example is: “Do you have clear goals?” Passive questions open the door to understanding the “static position” – the current situation and if it exists and why. These are helpful in information gathering for continuous improvement. Active questions, on the other hand, call for a response to “describe or defend a course of action.” “There is a huge difference” Goldsmith writes, “between ‘Do you have clear goals?’ and ‘Did you do your best to set clear goals for yourself?’”

Goldsmith offers great leaders six active, behavior-altering questions, The Six Questions that Will Set You Up to Be Super Successful!:

Did I do my best to increase my happiness?
Did I do my best to find meaning?
Did I do my best to be engaged?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
Did I do my best to set clear goals?
Did I do my best to make progress toward goal achievement?

It is in these small steps of quiet self-reflection that great leaders become extraordinary leaders – a simple change in questions that changes behavior to be and become more than they ever dreamed they could be. John Holt writes: “Ask questions to find out something about the world itself, not to find out whether or not someone knows it.” There is so much beauty and wonder yet to be found… in ourselves, the world and in those whom we serve.

Seek First to Understand

Simple stories sometimes capture the joy of profound truth and inspiration. A friend recently shared a story about the deep wisdom of Stephen Covey’s teaching: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

A lovely little girl was holding two apples with both hands. Her mum came in and softly asked her little daughter with a smile: “My sweetie, could you give your mum one of your two apples?”

The girl looked up at her mum for some seconds, then she suddenly took a quick bite on one apple, and then quickly on the other. The mum felt the smile on her face freeze. She tried hard not to reveal her disappointment.
Then the little girl handed one of her bitten apples to her mum, and said: “Mummy, here you are. This is the sweeter one.”

No matter who you are, how experienced you are, and how knowledgeable you think you are, always delay judgement. Give others the privilege to explain themselves. What you see may not be the reality. Never conclude for others. Which is why we should never only focus on the surface and judge others without understanding them first. For example:

Those who like to pay the bill, do so not because they are prosperous, but because they value friendship above money.

Those who take the initiative at work, do so not because they are foolish, but because they understand the concept of responsibility.

Those who apologize first after an argument, do so not because they are wrong, but because they value the people around them.

Those who are willing to help you, do so not because they owe you anything, but because they see you as a true friend.

Those who often text you, do so not because they have nothing better to do, but because you are in their heart.

It is in that beautiful momentary pause – the suspension of judgment – in which genuine caring and a willingness to trust and believe in someone is given. It is the great leaders’ vulnerability to be open to something more that perceived, heard or felt. It is an offering of respect, a moment of listening to stand in the shoes of another.

With business associates, friends, acquaintances and in the intimacy of family, these moments occur. They will capture your attention because they provoke an emotional response. Recognize this, and take that nanosecond of time to stop, listen and seek first to understand. You may just hear and feel like the mum who heard: “Mummy, here you are. This is the sweeter one.” As Leo Buscaglia wrote: “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” In every interaction, may you choose to turn a life around. That is the stuff of greatness.

A Tribute to Warren Bennis, “The Father of Leadership”

Thanks to my friend a constant source of inspiration, Michael M. Reuter

Bill George, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and author, wrote of the passing of Warren Bennis, American scholar, organizational consultant and author:

“… a giant oak has fallen with an impact felt throughout the world…. Just as Peter Drucker was “the father of management,” Warren Bennis will be remembered as “the father of leadership.” It was Warren who first said leadership is not a set of genetic characteristics, but rather the result of the lifelong process of self-discovery. As he once wrote: ‘The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born – that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.’

Warren Bennis found his joy and love of life not in positional power, but personal power. He wrote: “I realized my personal truth. I was never going to be able to be happy with positional power. What I really wanted was personal power: having influence based on my voice. My real gift is what I can do in the classroom or as a mentor.” The following are quotes of the rich legacy of teaching he left us.

“Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.”
“Leaders must encourage their organizations to dance to forms of music yet to be heard.”
“Leaders know the importance of having someone in their lives who will unfailingly and fearlessly tell them the truth.”
“The manager has his eye on the bottom line; the leader has his eye on the horizon.”
“Leaders should always expect the very best of those around them. They know that people can change and grow.”
“Great things are accomplished by talented people who believe they will accomplish them.”

And so it is with great leaders – to influence with their voice, sharing their gifts of leadership that others may develop. To Warren Bennis, we all say: ‘Thank you, our dearest teacher and friend for helping us grow… to be more than we ever dreamed we could be… and more… so much more.

Let your voice be heard. There is only one beautiful and special you whose voice is unique in eternity.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!


Contact Information:
Michael M. Reuter
Director, The Gerald P Buccino Center for Leadership Development
Stillman School of Business
Seton Hall University
Tel: (Office) 973.275.2528; (Mobile) 908.419.6060