One of the enormous benefits of my nomadic life on the University of Canberra campus is happenchance.
Today I crossed paths with Mark Spain.
We talked about leadership, shared stories and Mark introduced Ben Zander and the Art of Possibility.
As a follow on from my Olympics video post, I include two YouTube videos here to introduce Ben.
The first one is two minutes:
and a second of five minutes in duration:
These talks draw upon Ben’s experiences as a conductor and his ideas about leadership.
I was driving home on Thursday evening and was listening in to Radio National’s PM program.
By coincidence I was think about some correspondence with a PhD student about authentic leadership.
Serendipity brought me news of a series of CPA interviews with Neil Armstrong.
Alex Malley, the CEO of CPA, interviewed Neil Armstrong and observed that:
Look he’s got an extraordinary humility, there’s no question about that and when you look at what they were able to do in ’69 in relation to the journey they went on; these are things we just haven’t seen for a long time.
His capability to constantly talk about team; to have shown the world something that was beyond their mind and just getting the balance right between initiative and entrepreneurship and risk management, whereas these days we seem to be telling each other we can’t do things because of the risk and yet they did that literally on a wing and a prayer.
What is special about the four interviews with Neil Armstrong is that they offer a rare insight into his thinking.
He does not do a lot of interviews so I believe these are outstanding resources with which to contemplate leadership, risk and humility.
Driving home in the twilight did not seem so arduous on Thursday particularly after I heard Neil Armstrong say of the lunar landing:
Then the computer showed us where it intended to land and it was a very bad location, it was on the side of a large crater about – I suppose 100 or 150 metres in diameter. So I took over manually and flew it like a helicopter out to the west direction; got into a smoother area with not so many rocks, found a level area and was able to get it down there safely before we ran out of fuel.
A few weeks ago my daughter Beth alerted me to a Radio National program she had heard.
Richard Aedy interviewed John Dickson on Life Matters.
I followed Beth’s advice to listen to their discussion of humility. As a result I bought John Dickson‘s book Humiltas.
The subtitle to the book is A Lost Key to Life, Love and Leadership.
In it John suggests that “the most influential and inspiring people are often marked by humility”. He defines humility as “the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself”.
John identifies leadership as “the art of inspiring others in a team to contribute their best to a goal”. Leaders have:
Humility “enhances persuasiveness”. John concludes his discussion of humility and leadership with six steps:
- We are shaped by what we love.
- Reflect on the lives of the humble.
- Conduct thought experiments to enhance humility.
- Act humbly.
- Invite criticism.
- Forget about being humble.
In the last paragraph of the book John quotes CS Lewis:
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realise one is proud. And a biggish step too. At least nothing can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.
I think that is a great way to end … and start.