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"It is possible that people need to believe that they are unmanaged if they are to be managed effectively."
John Kenneth Galbraith

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Good morning from AC034 enroute to Toronto,

 

I hope this note finds you well, and that your journeys are filled with adventure and curiousity this week.

 

James Cameron's Avatar is playing on a screen a couple of rows ahead of me on the aircraft, and I'm smiling thinking, I'm so glad I saw this film on the big screen, because on the small screen on an aircraft seat it loses much of its appeal. I wrote about story and the importance of story in our organizations in the March 15 edition of Leadership Notes, and this edition to some degree follows on that line of thought.

 

At it's root, despite the great and intriguing special effects, Avatar is a simple story of good and evil, conficting views of how humans relate to the planet, human and divine interaction, love and rebirth and ressurection. It is in that sense both an ancient and deep story that strikes at the core of our human need for meaning and place in the universe. The great leaders of history have understood the importance of human need for meaning and place in the universe. On the terrifying side of human experience, Hitler used the story of the Ayran power mystique to give people meaning and place and created the Holocaust. On the courageous side of human experience, Martin Luther King (and others) used the story of the Isrealites' quest for freedom from Pharoah to give people meaning and place and created the civil rights movement in the United States.

 

In our organizations, these same needs apply. People need to be able to search for meaning and place and we're all on different paths and places on this search so one size does not fit all! There will be some people in your organization who are looking for meaning and a place through their involvement in the organization. It is evident that by tapping into this need, the organization can in fact attract and retain talented people. But how do we do it? We do it through story.

 

For example, As a kid, I had felt a strong pull towards the priesthood, and then at the age of 16 my friend Mark was killed crossing a highway, and no one could explain to me why God had let Mark die. I left the church and embarked on about 25 years of sex drugs and rock n roll. I had a great time, learned a lot, and did a lot. And then about 11 years ago my Dad died and I was with him as he died. I was suddenly and completely aware of a Presence in the room, for which I had no vocabulary.

 

My lovely wife, was at this time singing in the Cathedral Choir in Vancouver and  as was the custom at the time, after the first big service in Advent, approaching Christmas, there was a choir party at the Dean's home. I went, really as a groupie, hanging out with my wife and her musician friends. I stood in the kitchen chatting with the Dean, and as I spoke to him, I realized he might be able to help me come to understand what the Presence in the room with my Dad was, and what it might mean to and for me. I said, "I'd like to talk with you, can we make an appointment?" He said, "of course," and thus began my journey towards ordination.

 

And to this very day, every First Sunday of Advent, The Dean pulls along side me in our work, and says, "Happy Anniversary."

 

What do you think this story says about my search for meaning and place? What do you think it says about the cathedral? What do you think it says about who the Dean is? Might this story inspire people to check this place out? Might this story inspire people in other ways? What are the stories in and about your organization and the people who work there? What do those stories say and mean about the organization and about the people who lead there?

 

May this week be filled with story, meaning and place for you and for those with whom you work.