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Tag Archives: leadership

little bubbles on the horizon
transient rolling foam
bustling, popping, bulging, bumping
looking for some space to roam

bigger bubbles pressing through
devouring, absorbing, expanding goo
all becomes one, one becomes all
increasing the space inside the wall

smaller bubbles lose their name
new spaces form, all the same
but on the rim, the outer lip
it’s the cutting edge that steers the ship

jagged edges expand the bubble
pesky lumps which cause the ‘trouble’
the shape of new things still to come
spiky angles only spoil the fun

the spaces shout to stake their claim
to give themselves a defining name
while the edges cut and break new ground
forging on without a sound

it’s not the empty space within
but the outer rim that grows a thing
perhaps over time as we look back
we’ll learn just where our universe is at

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Think We Haven’t Come A Long Way? Watch How Ridiculous Men Were Just 40 Years Ago..

as powerful as this video statement is in its own right and context, what impacts me most about it …

…is that it chronicles greatness and achievement in what is for me a more realistic, accurate and basically believable light

to my mind we are force-fed, even bombarded with strategies and techniques towards greatness and achievements by the meme guru’s in all areas of life…

we are pressured to buy expensive books and DVD’s, attend expensive seminars and specific ‘higher’  education institutions, to follow a series of specific steps, strategically address our thinking, follow specific doctrines or belief systems, change our personal habits…

… all this to ensure our individual greatness

in a lost and empty world

…desperate for significance and meaning

the more I’ve observed greatness the more I’ve come to see that the honesty and humble, basic passions of seemingly insignificant individuals has been the most profound catalyst for significant change and event in history … both of a constructive and destructive nature

greatness and significance cannot be manipulated by anyone…

it happens

…it just happens

it also seems that very few ‘greats’ consciously set about being great

they sometimes have a subjective ‘sense’ of destiny… perhaps

but mostly it’s just ordinary people

doing ordinary things

… with extraordinary passion and honesty

*

life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans    (allegedly – John Lennon)

*

I have seen something else under the sun:

the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong,

nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned;

but time and chance happen to them all    (allegedly – Solomon)

piercing it all together
gathering to divide
rounding up to tear apart
to tell the truth, I lied

plunder in the name of service
a prophet for the leadership
service in the name of plunder
leadership for the profit

to be or not to be 1

as one legendary man dies in a cloud of controversy and deception, another brazenly ploughs the seeds of discontent watered by that same cloud …

all little boys desire to be king,

but if they mature they soon realize it is all vanity and that they are mere mortals,…

… but some don’t

cry the beloved country…

 

Hamlet offers an eerie ring to our present context…

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.[2]

Blind leading Blind

.

it’s nothing less than tragic to think that tomorrows leaders are following today’s leaders right now…

what was that about the blind leading the blind?

as radical as it may seem to the vast majority of us … perhaps for tomorrows leaders to shake off their own blindness it may well be greatly advantageous to start by stopping, go by staying, start questioning rather than obeying, learning by actively unlearning, programming by deprogramming and courageously walking untrodden paths… and perhaps even to not desire that others follow them at all?

outrageously also, perhaps to radically reinterpret the practical meanings of honour, respect, integrity, ethics, fairness, integrity, honesty, selflessness and dignity as these ideas might also be a most necessary initial step?  …  let’s face it,…  maybe only one in a million of all the leaders alive and active today display even a remote trace of any of these attributes

… and could it be that any righteous leader of tomorrow may well be categorized as anarchical, radical, rebellious and perhaps even profoundly irrelevant and dysfunctional … if judged by present standards?

instead of falling into a ditch along with those who illegitimately claim the high and lofty seats of power and influence in our world today – should we not be thinking of doing another form of ditching?

 

 

the biggest challenge our children (and indeed the nation at large) face today is learning civility, moral conduct, sound leadership, basic dignity and respect and even elementary communication skills… without ever seeing any displayed.

 

the emperors parade naked before us all yet demand respect and submission

 

He went about doing good and healing all who were under heavy pressure from negative, evil circumstance.   As he went along amazing things seemed to happen around him.  It was clear that a force much more powerful than himself, the words he spoke, or the deeds he did was tangibly present with him.   Lives were marvelously changed as he made contact with all manner of people and as a consequence they sought him out and followed him virtually wherever he went.   They thronged around and asked him questions and he graciously spoke back to them in response.   He taught them what the sacred texts had hidden in them, presented a revolutionary, fresh angle on ancient truth and opened the eyes of the blind.   He demonstrated by way of his own lifestyle, a way of life that had never been seen before.   As a result lame legs were restored, withered arms were straightened and for the first time enabled to reach out and touch, caress and even heal.

Other than the twelve he officially called to be his personal disciples, to leave their homes and families and to walk with him he never asked anyone else to join him or follow him as he walked.   He never developed unrealistic expectations in the hearts and minds of those who met him and instead seemed rather to make it more difficult for them to follow him than that which first was apparent.   He was unpredictable in almost everything he did and when expected to ‘zig’, he ‘zagged.’   He extracted no payment for his service of kindness but often met the needs of the poor instead.   His only charge was for all to honour God and do as he did – to follow his example of giving up his own life for those of his friends.  In fact, he more often than not forbade the recipients of his kindness their passionate request to follow him and even had the emancipated fortitude of wisdom, personal conviction and divine sense of purpose to amongst many other seemingly controversial acts,  inadvertently cause a very wealthy man with all his worldly resources, to turn away from following him by lovingly revealing the great poverty of the mans extreme wealth and success.

He had no personal empire of material or political wealth.   He never drew attention to himself nor promoted his service.  If anything, he underplayed the accolades of the crowd and preferred to call himself the ‘son of man’, a lowly, unpretentious description for someone who performed such incredible feats of miraculous kindness.   He never owned any form of personal transportation nor any building with attractive, socially trendy décor to accommodate the masses who pressed in.   Instead, he chose the dusty footpaths, market places, the homes of often socially inappropriate people, taverns and once a week, the small, traditional religious gathering spots to make contact with people.  He had no permanent roof over his head other than the stars, no place to call his own nor to hang his hat or raise his banner.   He tended more often than not to profoundly offend the established religious order and the prevalent leadership of the day and they too pursued him relentlessly, but for other reasons than respect, admiration and gratitude.

Eventually Jesus was murdered for this, as are any who follow his example and do as he did.

What is leadership?

Is it something we are?

Is leadership something we do?

Are leaders born or are they made?

Is leadership something we can or even should aspire to?

Is leadership a privileged existence or a life of servitude? In other words, is a leader a first amongst servants (a prime minister) or an authority figure who rules as a Chief Executive Officer (a President)?

Let’s face it, leadership is a much sought after currency. It speaks of power, control, status, achievement, dominance, wealth, superiority, prestige, knowledge, importance, popularity, money, success, and many, many other things. It is also apparently more seductive and desirous than anything Hollywood could ever conjure up.

Our present social political context with democracy as the apparent governmental system of choice places the office of leadership in yet another way. This style of governance revolves around a leader campaigning for votes and convincing the often uneducated and misinformed masses of the candidates personal attractiveness, charm, superiority and competency to represent them as their democratically elected leader.

Leadership is indeed a complicated issue of which many greater minds than ours have wrestled over and still not ever fully agreed on.

I am not here trying to make a definitive statement on what leadership is or even should be. Instead, because leaders these days tend to take themselves very seriously what I’d like to do is to pose a parody on leadership that in a somewhat humorous way might just perhaps serve us as we navigate for ourselves a path towards our own individual understanding on the matter.

Sometimes it is good to look at an issue from a different point of view to see it a little clearer… . . . (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it… ) 🙂

Either way, whatever our personal conclusions might or might not be we do still need to continue to walk through what I would like to suggest is a rather sad, stark, headless wilderness in global leadership history.

(… . . . and may the force be with us and not against)   😐

So, at last, here’s my parody; – I propose that leadership today could be seen much the same as a dog chasing its own tail.

For the dog it is a very serious quest which is passionately attacked with what can only be seen as an obsessive preoccupation. For most onlookers it strikes a humorous chord much like a side-show in a traveling circus would and beckons us closer to watch intently from a short, yet safe distance as we wait for the inevitable outcome. … and we are seldom disappointed.

What we are witness to is essentially a mindless task of vain, futile, deception that if successful is extremely satisfying (only for the dog, mind you) , but then only satisfying for a mere split second until the pain of the initial bite is registered. The self inflicted wound is endured of course, but only because the perceived humiliation of letting go is deemed far more embarrassing and painful to the ego of the dog than enduring the actual pain of the incisory act.

It takes a bit of time, but soon the creeping revelation starts to set in that the apparent success of the venture serves only to place the dog in a locked-in position dangerously close to its own backside (and all the accompanying aromatic benefits associated with this position).

It is only then that in extremely rare cases the hapless canine beast is awakened to the fact that it has now committed itself (if it ever really ever desired to go anywhere strategically significant in the first place) to an entrenched path of running around in a singular, personally exhausting, never ending, circle of which the only way out is to let go and to never attempt the mindless, trick again.

In the end (pun intended) leadership may be a dogs life, but being a non participating observer is perhaps equal to the folly (punt indented).

If I may risk a brief summation, may I suggest that perhaps we consider exchanging the aspirations we may seem to have in our minds towards leadership in general as we see it demonstrated in our present time for something more life affirming, dignifying, effective, meaningful and productive such as the simple, passionate pursuit of personal honesty and integrity.

And if others follow our example, well….  maybe then we might just possibly be moving towards a better definition of leadership…. only, let’s not formalise it or take it too seriously, for heaven’s sake!

However, if no immediate understanding or workable option comes to mind it might be advisable to strongly consider assuming the nuclear holocaust position which is:

1. do not panic!

2. find a dry, safe, secure spot

3. sit quietly on the floor with arms folded in a protective self-embrace.

4. place head firmly between your knees

5.   … and kiss your future goodbye!!

🙂

_____________________________


So there’s this little business endeavour with a head guy called Santa and a bunch of workers. As with all clusters of workers these days they herd together often like swarming things that herd together, and even develop their own social mores and pecking order. They are apparently led by an individual named “Olaf The Other.”

Old Head guy Santa, who apparently enjoys his personal comforts perhaps a bit too much is aware of this but as long as productivity doesn’t fall off significantly, stays out as any good leader does these days.

Anyway, on an annual basis they load up their amassed produce and merrily (allegedly) distribute it to an as yet undisclosed customer base.

One of the workers had a peculiar anatomical manifestation. He had a proboscis that was significantly more red and shiny than any others. (Rumour is rife but there is no clear evidence that this is in any way alcohol related). Now this unfortunate little inconvenience obviously called for the rest of the youthleague to grab this opportunity with all hooves to belittle Rudolf, insult his lineage, his anatomical abnormality, and excommunicate him from the daily pleasures and privileges of the youthleague. Clearly at this stage he was not in the running to also seize the right to live like a president like the rest of them.

However, possibly with global warming and all that, on the one strategically critical night, operations are thwarted and possibly derailed as visibility was minimal (which could have been a cosmic sign of the social health of the group all along, but that’s for history to decide at some later date). Anyway, head guy Santa finally takes a stand and quickly wolfs down the last helping of roast turkey and potatoes, quaffs the dregs of the Bourbon bottle and enlists Rudolf as the lead reign-deer to guide the mission safely.

All of a sudden the social fabric of the youthleague shifts dramatically and Olaf The Other and all the supportive  workers miraculously begin expressing their undying love(?) and admiration for Rudolf – yelling ecstatically, proclaiming his eternal historical worth, possibly even of having a few roads or even airports named after him.

“LONG LIVE RUDOLF!!! – AMANDLA!! – LONG LIVE RUDOLF!!!”

And so, we now all gather round, clapping hands, singing this beautiful piece of melodious poetry to our young ones every year as we celebrate the festive season.

…. and for desert I’d like to offer a suggested verse that could possibly be inserted had Rudolf (and we) had the perspective to see the social fabric of this delightful little story as well as the fortitude of character to address it for what it is worth …

Stuff it, you bulbous red fat slob

I will never guide your sleigh

Stuff all your insincere, nasty slave dogs

You can find your own fat way

_____________________

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer

Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer
had a very shiny nose.
And if you ever saw him,
you would even say it glows.

All of the other reindeer
used to laugh and call him names.
They never let poor Rudolph
join in any reindeer games.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve
Santa came to say:
“Rudolph with your nose so bright,
won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

Then all the reindeer loved him
as they shouted out with glee,
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,
you’ll go down in history!

 

Origins of the tune: http://www.carols.org.uk/rudolf_the_red_nosed_reindeer.htm

…. and, speaking of words …. and the textualization thereof … one of the thoughts which has intrigued me much is the way that Jesus himself lived in relationship with the culture, theology and religious order of the day. Then as now, his life and teaching were filled with controversy. Jesus made some extremely bold claims and possibly at the top of this pile is the claim he made to be the awaited Messiah. If one believes these claims to be true it could possibly be argued that if anyone had the ‘right’ to get dictatorial, even anal about ‘truth’ and anything pertaining to ‘absolutes’ it was Jesus. If anyone had the right to publish his teachings and doctrines and set them down in measureable form it was Jesus. But in these days there are books, blogs and papers on every conceivable issue. Men and women write their opinions down feverishly. Indeed, it is not difficult to begin to think that perhaps there is not a single thing that has evaded the scrutiny of the human eye. And there seems to be as many opinions published as there are people who publish their opinions. We seem to love to be ‘right’, and for the average fundamentalist this means a strict and unyielding adherence to the ‘letter of the law’ as contained in the scriptures (and I include the so-called New Testament scriptures in this). Yet to my mind the life and teachings of Christ is in stark contrast to all of this. We tend to publish books by the millions. Jesus, never penned a single word. Now clearly I am not Jesus, but if I were to take a little liberty here and, in keeping with my fundamentalist grounding, and using the theology and methodology of our ever so enlightened times, reflect on what I as a healthy little modern day Pharisee and religious leader might have done if I had been Jesus, I would surely have recruited a vast troupe of scribes (elders and deacons, if you will). I would most probably have lined them all up with parchment ready and quill and ink pot charged. I think then that I would very possibly have sternly instructed them to be clear and concise, obedient, articulate and accurate in every detail. My next step would have been to dictate the specifics of what was needed in terms of everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. I would have got them to record for all time all the words of life and truth. I would have explained in great detail the reason for my being there, the significance of my actions, the times and seasons set by the will of God over all eternity. I would have dictated a detailed narrative of the history of man and God – the why’s, the when’s, the where’s, the how’s …. I also would have focused on the future in great detail, especially in the light of my immanent departure. I would, like any good religious leader and strategic planner have given them a 1-year, 5-year, 10-year, even a few 1000-year plans to make sure that all were clearly informed and in line with the overall strategy of Heaven. My intent in this would have been to leave something for those who would follow that would be clear, incorruptible and more than adequate for clarity and undisputed interpretation and process ….. But clearly, I am not he as Jesus did nothing of the sort ….. and in the light of this disturbing revelation it strikes me that other than what was apparently written in the sand when a woman, allegedly caught alone in the very act of adultery, was thrown down at his feet to test him and his theology, … there is nothing Jesus wrote at all. … and even that which he had written in this instance was etched with his own hand in dry soil, in mere particles of sand which was totally at the mercy of the wind and other natural elements as well as exposed to the mercilessness and insensitivity of the trampling of mens feet. Jesus spoke to his closest disciples in veiled terms and withheld much from them (mainly because they were unable to bear it). He left them mostly clueless as to the present time they were in as well as the times that were to come. He also tended to confuse them with his special and mostly unusual interpretation and application of the scriptures they all knew so well. Most of the time he taught in metaphors and in them used common content and everyday situations rather than the direct scriptural texts the religious rulers of the time used. In fact, right up to the time he disappeared from their collective view for the last time they were still virtually totally in the dark as to the social, political and chronological realities of the time they were in let alone the future. Compared to the standards and systematic ways of church leaders of today Jesus was a pretty bad leader. Even the team he picked would never have been chosen by any self-respecting church leader today. He picked a real pack of inflammatory, divided ruffians who constantly quarrelled amongst each other over the most fleshly of issues and it’s possible that if many years later Paul of Tarsus had not come along they would really have been deep in the proverbial doo-doo. And by their own confession, even Paul’s teachings were very confusing and difficult for them to understand. This is why I suggested the method of recruiting a set of scribes earlier. It was clearly really very necessary. Yet Jesus was not at all bothered too much about this. He spoke on about another strange ‘comforter’ who would come along and be a guide and a companion to them after he had gone. He told them that the Father would send what he called the “Spirit of Truth” and that this individual would not only remind them of the things he had said, but also take them further into more of an understanding of things that were clearly way over their heads at the time. Even this was completely confusing to them and near the end they seemed to all but give up and possibly they just nodded energetically when he spoke on and tried to look as intelligent as possible. Surely a written codex was urgently needed under these circumstances? Surely a tight structure with clear lines of authority and a streamed-lined business strategy was what was needed? Organograms, lines of accountability, shepherding areas, overseeing leaders and area pastors, worship team leaders, worship musicians, psalmists, intercessory teams, prayer schedules, cell-group structures, office badges, official ministry allocations, Christian merchandise salespeople, ushers, stewards,  velvet lined offering trays, and the like. Surely Jesus urgently needed to take them all through a rigorous training schedule, perhaps a retreat somewhere in the mountains, a Leadership Training School perhaps where all the points of Kingdom leadership and theology, missiology, methodology, outreach strategies, feeding schemes, banking procedures (we can’t forget that most important of all worship tools), prophetic workshops, etc. etc. etc. be alpha-numerically delineated, indexed and implemented according to target timelines and accountability schedules? Strangely, Jesus did none of these. He just walked with them for a few years and left them in the hands of a mystery friend whom no-one could even see. And the most amazing thing of all is that they did pretty well under his shoddy leadership and lack of ministerial definition. As I have said before, this is indeed in stark contrast to the religious leaders and intelligentsia of his day and ours.

Why, I ask, would he conduct himself in the way he did?

And why, I ask, do we continue to conduct ourselves in the way we do?