Tag Archives: mastery

shokunin

shokunin

The term Shokunin Kishitsu came to my attention

courtesy of the people at Holstee.com who,

in an approach that resonates with

my examination of excellence, magic, leadership and performance,

are all about mindfulness through art, words and action.  

 

As an amateur photographer and apprentice magician, I had to learn more about this phrase, and this blog entry is a record of that short inquiry. 

 

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May 09, 2015

Shokunin Kishitsu & The five elements of true mastery

Last November I dined in Tokyo with a friend who was here in Japan on business from California. My friend is the CEO of a multi-billion dollar tech company with offices worldwide, including in Japan. He’s someone I greatly admire and look up to for advice, wisdom, and inspiration. He’s a powerful leader, a successful business person, and a nice guy to boot. So when he said that he was absolutely shocked that I had not seen the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I felt ashamed of my failing and placed an order for the DVD immediately on Amazon. “I can’t believe you have not seen this movie!” he said. “I must have seen it 5-6 times by now and there’s always something to learn.” Here it is a few months later and in that time I too have seen the movie 5-6 times. My friend was right, there are many valuable lessons in this documentary. I recommend the movie to anyone who is interested in a beautiful visual narrative that is a mix of innovation insights and inspiration.

Shokunin Kishitsu

Shokunin kishitsu (職人気質) translates roughly as the “craftsman spirit.” The movie, in spite of its title, is not about sushi, it’s really about how to be a master shokunin, how to become truly great as a master craftsman. Yes, if you like sushi—and beautiful cinematography of sushi—then you’ll not be disappointed. But even if you have zero interest in sushi, you will be motivated and inspired by this film. The film is not perfect, of course. For example, the narrative could use more objectivity and a more critical eye. There are surely more downsides to Jiro’s approach (not to mention the issue of over fishing which is touched only very superficially). Yet, on the whole, it’s a wonderful documentary. No matter your job or your dreams, there may be a valuable lesson or two in this gem of a film that will help you in your pursuit of mastery. Checkout the trailer below for the feel of the film.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q78xvcnmIMw

Five elements of Mastery

There are many lessons from the film, but I will focus here on five main points that the film makes early on. Food critic Masuhiro Yamamoto speaks of what makes Jiro a true master at his art. “He sets the standard for self-discipline,” Yamamoto says. “He is always looking ahead. He’s never satisfied with his work. He’s always trying to find ways to make the sushi better, or to improve his skills. Even now, that’s what he thinks about all day, every day.”

What does any of these points below have to do with presentation? Well, public speaking, including presentation given with the aid of multimedia, is an art. It may be a big aspect of your life and career, or it may play a very minor role. But the art of presentation, and the art of communication in general, is something worthy of an obsessive pursuit of excellence. No matter how good you are today, you can get better.

Below are the five attributes, according to Yamamoto, that are found in any great chef. Think about how you—or your team—can apply these to your own work (art).

1. Majime (真面目). A true master is serious about the art. He or she strives for the highest level possible always. The commitment to hard work is strong. The level of dedication is constant. As Jiro’s older son says in the film, “We’re not trying to be exclusive or elite. The techniques we use are no big secret. It’s just about making an effort and repeating the same thing every day.” Their approach may be simple but their dedication and execution is what sets them apart.

2. Kojoshin (向上心). Always aspire to improve oneself and one’s work. There is an old Zen adage that says once you think you have arrived, you have already begun your descent. One must never think they “have arrived.” One of the shokunin at the fish market touches on this theme in the film while searching for the perfect fish. “…Just when you think you know it all, you realize that you’re just fooling yourself,” he says. One must always try to improve. “I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit, says Jiro. “There is always a yearning to achieve more.”

3. Seiketsukan (清潔感). Cleanliness, freshness. “If the restaurant doesn’t feel clean, the food isn’t going to taste good,” Yamamoto says. One can not prepare and perform well if the environment is cluttered, messy, or dirty. Some people say that a disorganized work space is liberating. I am not in that camp. For me at least, a dirty, cluttered office decreases my creativity and increases my anxiety. I am not a neat freak by any means, but when my office is cluttered, my mind is cluttered too (and often vice versa). This article touches on this issue outside the kitchen (A Tidy Office Space is the Key to Creative Thinking.) [Ed.: This is related to mise-en-place.]

4. Ganko (頑固). Stubbornness, obstinacy. The fourth attribute is…Impatience, Yamamoto says. “They are better leaders than collaborators. They’re stubborn and insist on having it their way.” Jiro is an individualist in pursuit of excellence rather than a team player in search of consensus. This does not mean he does not rely on his team or listen to them, but his team is hand picked and trained by him. In the end it is his vision and his responsibility.

5. Jyonetsu (情熱). Passion, enthusiasm. From the very first moments of the film: “Once you decide on your occupation…you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret of success…and is the key to being regarded honorably.” No passion, no art.

Your work, your art

The spirit of the shokunin is the pursuit of perfection. The pursuit is hard and the journey long, never ending in fact. But you love what you do in spite of the hardships. The work is not at all about the money. “Shokunin try to get the highest quality fish and apply their technique to it,” Jiro’s oldest son says. “We don’t care about money. All I want to do is make better sushi.”

http://www.presentationzen.com/.a/6a00d83451b64669e201b8d110fffc970c-150wi

Remember that the shokunin lessons here are not only for chefs or artists such as painters, musicians, dancers, etc. In the book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? famed business guru Seth Godin makes the case that many dedicated professionals are doing art: “Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.” An artist, says Godin, “is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally.” You must throw yourself into it, suggest, Godin, “Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”

“I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top…but no one knows where the top is.” — Jiro Ono

The final few lines from the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi sum up the lessons from the master shokunin.

Always…

look ahead and above yourself.

Always try…

to improve on yourself.

Always strive to elevate your craft.

That’s what he taught me.

http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/2015/05/the-five-secrets-to-mastery.html 

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 The core thematic statement in the introduction to “Summon The Magic”, from Chuang-Tzu, by way of Dorothea Dooling:

Once there was a master craftsman who made such beautiful things out of wood that the King demanded to know the secret of his art.

“Your Highness”, said the carpenter, “There is no secret.

But there is something. This is how I begin:

When I am about to make a table, I first collect my energies and bring my mind to absolute quietness. I become oblivious of any reward to be gained or any fame to be acquired. When I am free from the influences of all such outer considerations, I can listen to the inner voice which tells me clearly what I have to do.

When my skill is thus concentrated, I take up my ax; I make sure that it is perfectly sharp, that it fits my hand and swings with my arm. Then I enter the forest.

I look for the right tree, the tree that is waiting to become my table. And when I find it, I ask “What have I for you, and what have you for me?’ Then I cut down the tree and set to work. I remember how my masters taught me to bring my skill and my thought into relation with the natural qualities of the wood.”

The King said, “When the table is finished, it has a magical effect upon me; I cannot treat it as I would any other table. What is the nature of this magic?

“Your Majesty”, said the carpenter, “what you call magic comes only from what I have already told you.”

In A Way of Working, ed. E.D. Dooling. Anchor Books, 1979, from the original by Chuang-Tzu.

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American Shokunin (7:22)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfdGGTb5_Ts 

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“… creativity comes down to showing up every day and practicing your craft. Creating a space for the magic to happen where discipline, skill and passion all come together in a single moment.…”

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“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” 

Ernest Hemingway

http://fundydesigner.com/tip-%E2%80%A2-photography-lessons-from-a-master-sushi-chef/ 

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Source of featured image at the top:

http://www.ettinger.co.uk/about-us/heritage/craftsmanship 

Scrolling through a search of Google Images using the search word “craftmanship” makes it seem as though the concept, the word, is about products, tools, fine-finger dexterity and the like.  

Many fine things, works of arts, and much much more come from applied craftsmanship. 

But what about craftsmanship of the mind, the heart, the spirit?

There’s a quote you can find in which a photographer talks about seeing things others don’t see.

What about craftsmanship within the fields of cultural, social, political and spiritual leadership?

complex challenge

Chapter 14 of the e-book is about leadership, building winning teams, moving people, and all of the factors and skills in doing those things. It draws on athletics, on business, and on the military. The art of leadership is embodied in the person. Leadership requires exceptional skills in conducting a changing or dynamic activity in a dynamic process that involves people who themselves are at various levels of skill, learning, and mastery. Leadership involves taking action. It requires presence. It involves communication.

Tab N (Leadership)

Chapter 15 of the e-book is about strategy, situational awareness, finding out what you need to know, decision-making in a dynamic setting and/or under stress, and more. It introduces the reader to some ancient and basic precepts in military strategy through time-tested and accepted sources: Sun Tzu’s The Art of War; Sir B. H. Liddell-Hart’s theory of the indirect approach, and John Boyd OODA loop theory. It provides some limited examples of how these are applied to athletic scenarios, and focuses on the psychological aspects that come into play with perception, comprehension, speed/tempo, and space/time.

Tab O (Psychology of Strategy)

Chapter 16 of the e-book is about possibility. It is based on sources from within the world of learning, and the world of business. It is focused, in the end, on getting people aligned toward producing a desired outcome. It is focused on accountability, on making a difference, on collaboration, and on honesty.  It’s about choices that leaders make.

Tab P (The Art of Possibility)

To make effective sense of a complex challenge, we must have a grasp of the whole of the situation, including its variables, unknowns, and mysterious forces. We must examine more than just the surface. This requires skills beyond everyday analysis.

The Spirit of the Game

photography courtesy of http://reagentx.net/new/tag/astrophotography/

The tenth chapter of the e-book Summon The Magic: How To Use Your Mind… is actually one of my two most favorite chapters.  (Those two speak to me, and they ended up being assigned the letter E and the letter J.  Funny thing how those things work out, huh?)

It’s entitled The Spirit of the Game and, while it is laden with concepts of spirituality, it doesn’t attempt to proselytize. Parker Palmer (Footnote 111 on page 55) gives as good a defintion of spiritual as I could find.

There are references from within religion’s expressions, but spirit includes them all, allows you to parse and understand them if you desire to do so, and ultimately it transcends them.

The Spirit of the Game ranges across the topics of prayer, intention, attention, life alignment, love, mastery, presence, soul, music, movement, ex-stase, awe, connectedness, the sweet spot in time, gnosis, peak experience, yoga, samadhi, behavior, discipline, intent, will, performance, creativity, energy and grace.

It will bring you to James Neill’s http://www.wilderdom.com.

It will bring you to the web site of a dojo called www.bodymindandmodem.com.

There’s a quote in there from the fellow whose insights were the key that unlocked the door to the creation of this e-book.

It was in the middle of the explosion of the decades of research into the brain through the use of functional MRI studies and Roland Perlmutter, M.D. (neuroradiologist, Duke University Medical Center) is the individual quoted from within the book On The Sweet Spot: Stalking the Effortless Present.

It’s not that quote (footnote #24) that quickened me.

The one that made we sit upright, that confirmed my interest, my work, the value of these concepts beyond sports, and the value of sharing this material shows up near the end of my e-book.

But here’s a better expression of all of that from an old blog of mine (circa August 21st, 2013).  I’d been reading a Sports Illustrated in a medical waiting room and encountered a letter to the editor that was “surely of interest to the father of a professional fast-pitch softball player whose hand was broken by [Jennie] Finch when she stepped on it during a pick-off attempt at first. Was Finch mad at her because she not only did not strike out but managed to draw couple of walks against her and made one of them stand up for a win? The bone was broken above the knuckles, making it impossible to hold or swing a bat, but a visualization process I designed on the basis of my readings [actually, it was an audio tape from Lydia Ievleva; see this] and which she implemented which came to fruition in front of the orthopod ten days later and got her a clearance to return when the doctor said said “I’ve never seen a bone heal so quickly”. The bone and the body that it belonged to went on to earn a Second Team All-American slot in the ASA Majors division.”

Back then in 2013, I referenced the book On The Sweet Spot and my own e-book Summon The Magic and the applicability of what I have come to understand about the human mind/body/spirit as an antidote to the oppressive wars, narcissistic psychopathology of leadership, and the failure of the average human being — especially the dormant American ones — to wake up and effect some change.

From the description found at the Amazon link (but the emphases are mine):

“… as Richard Keefe, the director of the sport psychology program at Duke University, looked deeper into the nature of his experience, he found profound links to the spirit, the brain, perhaps even the soul.

Keefe recognized that the feeling golfers and other athletes have of “being in the zone” is basically the same as a meditative state. And as a researcher with experience in brain chemistry, he went one step further: If we can figure out what’s happening in the brain at such times, he reasons, we can learn how to get into that “zone” instead of just waiting for it to happen. This is the Holy Grail of sport psychology — teaching the mind to get out of the way so the body can do the things it’s capable of doing. Keefe calls it the “effortless present,” when the body is acting of its own accord while the brain has little to do but watch.

All religions describe some kind of heightened awareness in their disciplines; Keefe explores whether such mystical experience is a fundamental aspect of our evolution, an integral part of what makes us human and keeps us from despair. And he brings the discussion back to the applications of such knowledge, reflecting on our ability to use these alternate planes to achieve better relationships, better lives, better moments. Keefe’s true subject is extraordinary experience — being in the zone, in the realm of effortless action. On the Sweet Spot builds from the physical and neurological to the mystical and philosophical, then adds a crucial layer of the practical (how we can capture or recapture these wondrous states)…..”

That’s what summoning the magic is all about.

If a mind can heal its own fractured hand, why can’t many minds heal a fractured world?”

 

And, oh look, that calligraphic expression I mentioned back in healing a sick world shows up on page 75.

(So that’s where I put it..!)

 

Even Caitlyn Jenner makes an appearance in a potent retrospective.

 

But speaking of sports (and there are plenty of sporting references in The Spirit of the Game), last Monday’s news had an example (and there are plenty of them every day) of attempts to “psych out” an opponent — to take them off their game. My exact reference is to the US/Australia women’s 2015 Women’s World Cup opening match in soccer and the re-surrection or re-mindfulness of the US keeper’s legal difficulties. I take no position on the keeper or her history. In fact, I raise the point because, in all my research and other encounters, I have never met a performance psychologist who embraced or helped someone else “hone” the art of dissing.

You see a lot of it in pro sports. Larry Bird and some others have shown that, if you’re going to get into “trash talk”, you’d better be able to back it up.

The entire discipline of sports/performance psychology would suggest that you expend your energy focusing on your own game, that your attention to your opponent’s game in an attempt to create an advantage more often backfires than not. There’s a book listed in my bibliography that comes so dangerously close to taking the wrong approach that I won’t even identify it for you.

Refefence has already been made to bringing the best you can bring to the exchange as an ideal way to respect both the game and one’s opponent. Pre-game, in-game and post-game “trash talk” is trash and doesn’t fall within The Spirit of the Game.

Julia Cameron would understand. On Monday, her book “The Well of Creativity” got packaged with two of her earliest books, The Artist’s Way and The Vein of Gold, and shipped off to a friend.  I had thought “The Well of Creativity” was the one actually I received today (more dementia, or lack of focus) but the recipient is a close friend so it’ll all come out in the wash.

Arriving today was Supplies, which Cameron describes as good, plain water for those thirsty aspiring or working people who are busy making things — “books, musicals, movies, plays. board games, computer programs, sculptures, watercolors, greeting cards, effective aprons, better lives”.

The second page reminds us all of an “extremely effective technique” a lot of us have forgotten, or dismissed, or turned our noses up at beause it seemes so juvenile.

Several more pages in, and I had to put the book down; I was hooked. It’s serious shee-it. (I’ll report back on it in good time, but it’s a workbook and I’ve got to do the work.)

So, here you have it:

Tab J (The Spirit of the Game)

I hope that it will make your performance and creativity soar.

Masters of Change

Music video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m2HN2y0yV8 (8:33)

What follows are excerpts from

Masters of Change: how great leaders in every age thrived in turbulent times, by William M. Boast, PhD, with Benjamin Martin, Marocome Ltd., ISBN 0-9763198-0-2, 2nd edition, 2005.

[I first encountered Dr. Boast and these virtually identical ideas in a package of twelve audiocassettes given to me by a professional colleague in1982 being circulated among symposia planners as part of a search for a keynote speaker.]

“Learning about” is not the same as “learning.”… “Knowing about” is not the same as “knowing.” ….  Individuals can change to the degree they can abandon past formulas and promises, and constructively conquer ambiguity and complexity.” [Pages 2-3]

“What did you do brilliantly in the last week? Have you noticed that most people have forgotten it already?” [Page 8]

“We may well be approaching the coincidental end of several cycles. Certainly, the industrial age is giving way to the age of information and technology. Western civilization is coming to a climax.  Whether it be the end — the death, as German historian Oswald Spengler saw it — or a major change into something new and different remains to be seen. The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union has plowed under the history of the last seventy years and exposed the reality of ethic tension, border disputes and fragile economies. The world, once kept in balance by only two super-powers, is being overrun by a scramble of nations flexing their economic muscles, clamoring for position and power.” [Page 10]

“The verb of your job is everything. All of the things–your business cards, stationary, title, telephone, desk, company car and even your policies and procedures manual–are superfluous. The pertinent questions of a successful business or focused not on its nouns but on its verbs: “What are you producing?” “Whom are you serving?” “How well we you do it?” Now add to these questions the fact that the world in which you “do it” is also a verb in constant flux. With the verb of your job running counterpoint to the verb of the business world, you have begun an idea of how much action is expected of you.

If your job is a verb, and if the economy is a verb, then the question arises: “Where is it going?” You have only to read last year’s Wall Street Journal or last quarter’s Harvard Business Review to realize that no one really knows. No one has the vaguest idea. Not one psychic, not one economist, not one politician is able to predict the future of the economy. Financial portfolios are promoted based on the “divination” abilities of the broker or brokerage house, but the accuracy of many brokers is often worse than pure guess.” [Page 9]

“If you list all the great artists in the history of the Western world, almost half of them lived in northern Italy at the same time and knew each other. It boggles the mind. And here is another key to capitalizing on the opportunities of crisis rather than being trampled underfoot by his dangers: create a community of success by filling it with special people. Methodologies are secondary.

If you list all the great composers in the history of the Western world, over half of them lived in Vienna or were centered near it. If you list all the great theoretical scientists in the history of the human race, over 98% of them lived in the United States in the first half of the 20th century. Success flourishes in communities of success. Failure flourishes in communities of failure. One of the prime missions in a world of change is to maintain a community of excellence–and communities are people.

Never let a community of success slip into becoming a community of failure by letting mediocre people come into it or by letting the people in it slip into mediocrity.…

Not only do you need to safeguard against the perverse ability of communities of failure, but you also need to guard against developing a narrow range of answers. Biologists refer to creatures as having “spans of tolerance.” Highly specialized creatures have very narrow spans of tolerance, but highly generalized creatures have wide spans of tolerance. In conditions of eco-stability, highly specialized creatures flourish, but in conditions of eco-instability they become extinct. Only the highly generalized creatures, with their wide spans of tolerance, can make it through. They survived to go on to another time. Human beings can master both.” [Pages 16-17]

http://wpcontent.answcdn.com/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b3/WhitewaterKayaking-BLM.jpg/220px-WhitewaterKayaking-BLM.jpg

Source of image: http://www.answers.com/topic/whitewater 

“… You can successfully maneuver through the white water of change if your object is not to take the white out of the water, but to put a master in the kayak.” [Paraphrased][Page 20, and repeated thereafter]

“Common sense, combined with passion, makes a formidable [tool].” [page 20]

“Mastery begins in the ability to recognize what promises you bring to a situation and, in turn, what the situation is bringing to you.” [Page 23]

http://www.thieubesselink.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/craftsmanship-production.jpg

“The ancient Greeks did not have a specific word for art and a different word for science. Recognizing the need for both art and science in any effective, intelligent and responsible act, they had the word “techne”, which meant “art-science.” The time has come to replace the mechanical mentality of today’s management theory and formula with the Greek concept of techne. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Techne ]

Alfred North Whitehead, one of America’s great philosophers, gave a definition of education, but the definition also applies to succeeding in business, to making money and to living a full life. He said, “Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilization of knowledge.” Notice that he did not say that education was the acquisition of knowledge; he said it was the acquisition of the art of using knowledge. Tragically, we haven’t done that very much in American education.” [Pages 24-25]

http://www.thieubesselink.eu/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/4378016700_aa6dee0431_z.jpg

“When decisions are made on the basis of dogma and not on skillful processing of the information, the battle eventually will be lost. Dynamic shifts… necessitate dynamic strategies. Only those with prepared minds, who have learned to suspend closure, who can take the techne of their craft and critically investigate their premises, will succeed.” [Page 32]

“An organism, or a social unit of any kind, rises and falls, functions and dies between the poles of its basics and its dynamics. The basics are those elements that are predictable and stable. The dynamics are unpredictable and turbulent. Every human system, whether it is a nation, corporation, office, production line, home enterprise, family or individual, finds its stability and its challenges in the constant flux and flow between two poles: basics and dynamics. [Page 32; the entire chapter three goes on to discuss this in detail.]

“In times of rapid change, experience is your worst enemy.”

– J Paul Getty

 

“… We must also determine the elements or qualities of any endeavor or problem that are dynamic–that have high degrees of unpredictability, chaos, disorder, randomness and challenge. Then we locate generalists who are prepared to handle the dynamics and help them to bring new solutions and appropriate responses to bear on the continuous changes of the environment. When you’re willing to accept the generalist vision, interpretation and direction, you must immediately seek out every basic to back it up in action.” [Page 45]

“After 20 years of brainstorming, observers have concluded that creative ideas are never reached by a group, but they are only generated by individuals in groups. Companies, as they strive for greater teamwork, should not overlook the role of individuals within teams. Teams depend upon their individuals within them: a team of jerks does not work any better just because it is a team, but teams can be made worse because of the jerks who are assigned to them.[Page 45]

The characteristics of people who achieve in dynamic situations has been determined to some extent. In chapter 4 of “Masters of change” the beginnings of the list have been compiled to include:

Comfort in ambiguity.

Productive inconsistency.

Intuition and instinct.

Vision and values.

Emphasis on action.

Creativity.

The ability to seek solutions instead of blame.

Potential for growth.

Logic and other tools of the mind.

High-energy.

The effective use of models in learning. 

The author of the book suspects that the list is incomplete and may include as many as 1,000 characteristics and suggests that our job is to find the rest.

“One of the easiest ways to spot losers is that they panic when you move their philodendrons.” [Page 56]

“When the swamp is drying up and no one knows what is coming next, you cannot wait for all the facts. By the time you’ve processed all facts”, others have already acted on their hunches and laid claim to all of the available resources.” [Page 59]

The key to success is not in your ability to adjust to change; “it lies in your ability to anticipate change.” [Page 59]

“Quality must be in the people first. In areas where the dynamics dominate, it is the talent, genius and character of the individual that matter most. No amount of experience can compensate for the lack of talent, genius or character. You can, and certainly must, provide training for the basics, but you are totally dependent upon the qualities in the individuals when it comes to mastering the dynamics.” [Page 61]

“Great golfers on the world tour sink beautiful putts that we watch with envy. On the other hand, I can find a professor of anatomy who can explain the articulation of every joint and precisely how it works in relation to making your golf putt; I can get a professor of neurology who can explain the firing of all the nerves that such an action requires; I get a professor of psychology who can explain the behavioral conditioning of the professional golfer in perhaps 40 or 50 pages with footnotes. I can get a geologist who can, with great bibliographic appendices, give you the exact chemistry of the soil or  a horticulturist who can explain the particular species of the grass on the green or a physicist who could explain the lever action. But none of them can sink the putt–you are the one who must sink the putt. 

It helps us intellectually to understand the processes. Certain actions can be enhanced by knowing, but ultimately, the actions must be unconscious and spontaneous. They must come from a mastery within the person and not from a set of rules thumb-tacked to a bulletin board or from a textbook of business management.

….I suggest that you read Thomas C Martin’s book Malice in Blunderland. It is an excellent book to have in your lower desk drawer in the turbulent, chaotic and, often, frustrating world. The author makes a very clear point when he says, “leadership should begin to take its clues from Olympic track coaches and stop relying so much on committees. After all, the job is to find one person who jumps 7 1/2 feet high, not seven little people who each jumped 13 inches. [Paraphrased]” [page 65]

Tools of the mind

Your ability to deal with ambiguity, productive inconsistency, instinct, action, creativity, field independence and growth potential all depend on the effective, intelligent and responsible application of your best tool: your brain. Your capacity to collect and use meaningful information effectively is the single most important tool you have for doing all the things listed here as characteristics of successful people in times of upheaval. And yet, most people know less about their brain as a tool than they know about the office photocopier or the keyboard on their computer. They know more about their filing system that about their own intellectual ability to handle categories and logic.

Most people have never been trained to think formally and have never been given the practical experience of thinking informally. They use their mind, haphazardly at best, as though they had been born with “the instinct” to think.

Training in logic, so necessary to clear thinking, has been totally neglected in our leadership, management, sales and administration workshops. Training and logical thinking should go hand-in-hand with training in analogical thinking to cultivate the creative side. We seem to have a very low regard for the human mind, to leave its development to such happenstance.…[page 45]

The old textbooks used in school were written by professors who wrote their books based on knowledge they have acquired 10 to 15 years before they wrote the book. We must question our sources and their appropriateness. In a new world, we must become continuously transformed specialists, standing solidly upon the generalized knowledge that comes from a real education in its broadest sense–for thought of for context period” [pages 70-71]

On page 73, inside chapter 4 on the topic of the qualities within the mastery of change, is a section on “models of excellence” which, interestingly, directly parallels Eric Booth’s theme of the creation of a personal “Hall of Masters” found in his book The Everyday Work of Art.  “The first function of good leadership is good modeling–not just communication, but something deeper than that. The mere process of communication, without character, is ultimately meaningless if not destructive. As history shows, methodologies result only an incremental improvement, while in-depth models result in quantum changes within the human.” [Page 74]

“The universal role in the dynamics of change is: “There is no universal rule.” [Page 76]

[There is not one instance of Machiavelli succeeding in social, political or business ventures… ” [Page 77]

“Mastering mastery requires that you stretch far beyond what you have and what you are. Although we are continually told, “just be yourself,” that is not good enough for mastery. Instead, you must “surpass yourself”–you must master not only your craft but also your potentials; you must master not only your skills but also the proper use of the skills. You must become a supreme craftsman in the use of all of the tools available to you, whether they are tools of the hands, or the mind or of your character.

Leadership isn’t leadership unless it works in the context of mastery. The mastery of the best human achievement, productivity or creativity must be exemplified in the leader. The leader must become the perfect model of that mastery.

But mastery always requires more than just a skill. Mastery is not true mastery until becomes unconscious and spontaneous….. Such mastery always pulls us to the edge of risk…. Mastery grows and expresses itself through the challenges of a dynamic world.” [Page 80]

“… All attempts to persuade… must evidence the deep concern of the speaker for effective, intelligent and responsible action.”  [Page 80]

“In anything you do, you must also be responsible, for when you are effective, intelligent and responsible, your effectiveness is reinforced beyond measure.” [Page 81]

***

The collective (teamwork, corporate culture, the organization, told total loyalty, etc.), in its decay, becomes dehumanized, rigid, rule-driven, bureaucratic and even tyrannical. The individualized, in its decay, becomes isolated, narcissistic and fragmentary. [Page 113]

[The book “Masters of change”] focuses on changes in people–the individual problems each person faces in change and the changes that must take place in each individual. Ultimately, no organization–company, state, school or home–and can keep up with change unless it is prepared within. “[Page 113]

“We must shape the world in which men and women, individually and collectively, can do their best in reaching their full potentials….”  [page 124]

****

“The alternative to the secular and the positivist is the spiritual and the creative. At the heart of all religions–Judaism in the Torah, Christianity in the New Testament, Islam in the Koran, Hinduism in the Bhagavad-Gita and others–lies a deep focus on the human being and what is human. Love and compassion, model and mentor, genius and beauty, will and power are all words system from within the human being. Though religion may often manifest itself negatively, it is uniquely human. I am not advocating secular humanism. Secular humanism is simply not big enough to face the challenges that I’ve been talking about.

Sacred humanism (as described by Socrates, Cosimo di Medici (the elder), Pico della Mirandola, Desiderius Erasmus, Thomas Moore, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Martin Luther King, Jr.) in some form or another becomes more important than ever before. When I speak of sacred humanism, I do not see “sacred” as synonymous with “Sunday school” or with the fundamentalism of any religion in the world. If we are wise and not merely arrogant, we can see that our individual potential is shared with the collective potential of all humankind and comes from a deeper source than some merely mechanical or behavioral brain…..  The great advantage of sacred humanism is its faith in human potential and spiritual grace.” [page 127]

“What [we] must ensure is meritocracy, much as Jefferson sought. It was at the heart of the founding of the United States [when] Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams just before his death in 1826 in which he made clear that the United States should not be run by the common man but by the aristoi. This aristocracy should not be based on wealth or birth, he espoused, but on merit and ability, or better yet, on ethos and genius.  [page 118 and page 156]

Source: http://linked2leadership.com/2010/06/09/leader-in-turbulent-times/ 

 

… Corporate fascism and corporate communism (as absurd as that sounds) may emerge because of a failure of truly humanist leadership.

I can assure you that without the responsibility and the people, the Corporation will become fascist and will not survive. Although nothing survives forever, the pattern of history demonstrates that things which are greatly made survive for longer periods of time and for the good of more people.

You must anticipate the challenges of the wilderness. Many will be frightened by it. Many will seek protection against the anarchy and at any cost. There is no room here for victims. There is no room here for narcissism. There is no room here for stupidity or ignorance. Creative growth and development must dominate our very action and that growth must be spiritual as well as intellectual and aesthetic.… [ from The Conclusion, on page 157]