Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Doing "What Matters"

Doing "What Matters": "I had the opportunity to attend another brilliant presentation this last week by a man I admire a great deal, president emeritus of the University of Oregon, Dave Frohnmayer. Although President Frohnmayer may be best known for the 15 years he spent as university president he can also list Dean of the U of O school of law, Oregon Attorney General, state legislator, and Rhodes scholar. A true renaissance man.

He was speaking to a combined group of community leaders and 'aspiring' leaders in the form of students from a local private university. Much of what he said resonated with me, but there were particular aspects of his presentation that really struck me.

One of the most interesting themes he discussed was our evolution as people, especially those of us who aspire to lead or manage others. He said that as we are young and we begin our careers we start with the question-
What do I want to do with my career?
We hear this question and discussion a lot from young people; how do I best manage my 'career'?

The next evolution he describes is the place where we ask the question-
What do I find fulfilling or meaningful?
I know I have certainly spent some time pondering that question and I rather suspect that I am not alone.

The last question or stage was the challenge he put to those who lead-
What matters?
The point of this question is that we move beyond the 'I' and begin to examine our contributions in the larger context of society and the world. It is an interesting point. Should we have people in leadership roles that haven't evolved to that place?

The other part of what he discussed particularly resonated with me; he encouraged everyone, but especially leaders to see themselves and others in terms of their whole personhood. Some of you know this is a familiar place for me.

He referred to people as diverse as Jung and Machiavelli as recognizing that we all carry a 'shadow side' and that the most effective leaders recognize this in themselves and others. They don't try to deny it, they incorporate it in their leadership style and acknowledge it in others. They have people around them whom they trust and have the courage to point out to them when this 'shadow' becomes a detriment rather than an asset or neutral. He also talked about how the recognition and 'mastery' of your shadow elements is evolutionary and occurs over time.

When I first entered the work force like President Frohnmayer suggested I spent much of my time focusing on my 'career'. Now that I have had three or four 'careers' I recognize that a career is a journey you to a certain extent look back on rather than plan.

I have found for me personally that the second and third questions have intertwined. I believe passionately that a different way of people relating to each other in organizational settings is better for the individual, the organization, and society in general. In my case that model is what we now call engagement or employment branding.

Those of you familiar with me also know about my fascination with 'Whole People', my belief that this idea of partitioning people off in the 'work self' and personal self is ineffective and kind of silly.

The last JFHF3HCJD6FE few years have been an interesting part of my personal journey so I found it somewhat validating to hear from someone I respect that perhaps I am not doing it 'wrong' after all.

So what I would leave you with are two questions-
  • Have you determined what matters to you?
  • If you answer yes are you pursuing it, and if no do you have a plan to change that?

Look forward to hearing from you.....


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