"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life."
Arthur Ashe

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Leadership Notes -- Thoughts on Leading People and Making a Difference in Organizations

Word count this issue: 410

Estimated reading time:  3:00


You may recall that last week I wrote that two things have struck me about strategic thinking as a leadership practice. I wrote last week about a useful image about what we might mean by strategic thinking. 


This week I’d like to suggest that we are not the first humans to live in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) time and perhaps we all could lift ourselves out of the entertaining drama and ask ourselves, what do we want to have happen? Whom do we want to be?


I was first aware of this some years ago when the media were following the phrase, “weapons of mass destruction.” It struck me that 2000 years ago if a Roman Legion showed up at the gates of your city, they were a weapon of mass destruction. You would really be living in a VUCA time. And then more recently, watching an episode of Home Fires, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Fires_(UK_TV_series)  on Netflix. The series opens in  England in August of 1939. History majors will know that the Nazi’s invade Poland in early September 1939. The characters of the show in August of 1939 are living in a VUCA time. They fear that war is coming, and the older characters who have lived through the First World War all know that volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are going to be the norm. 


A challenge is that we not only recognize that we live in a VUCA time, but that we get overly dramatic about it. We are not that special. Our ancestors lived through sometimes terrible and dangerous times. For all that we face, we are very fortunate to live in this time and this place. 


A key lesson from the ancient wisdom is to “Fear Not.” 


While we are thinking about vision and planning as we discussed last week, there is a wonderful old prayer, adapted by my former Bishop as a blessing. I’ve adapted it for Leadership Notes. I think it appropriate as we move away from the drama of VUCA living.


As you go into your sometimes challenging work,

remember the love and gratitude that inspires us.

Have courage.

Hold on to what is good.

Return no one evil for evil.

Support the weak, and honou life.