A Theory About Life & Leadership – Part 4

Well this is going to wrap up some of the ideas and concepts I have been germinating over the years.  This post will refine some concepts and clarify potential confusions, as well as update the Emergent Leadership concept to my initial title of “Risk to Lead Theory” (RLT).  Although the name Emergent Leadership does correlate with the concepts I have been seeking to convey, the notion of taking a “risk” in order to “lead” better signifies this theory structure.  Risking in order to lead presupposes that we take a risk in being “real” and “genuine” in a world where honesty, compassion, and honor are not highly prized values.   The leadership I am referring to is first and foremost “leading yourself” to walk, talk, and breathe the values you espouse – and extending this out into all relationships and encounters you may have with others along the path of life.

I also changed the name of “Inspiring Communication” (IC) to “Reviving Communication” (RC) in order to avoid the inherent confusion of “Integrating Character” (IC), hence the double IC-IC.  Additionally, I also changed a sub-factor within Integrating Character, namely, “diligence” was replaced with “commitment.”  I changed this because I consider “commitment” to be more foundational, while also encapsulating the essence of diligence within itself.  For example, to be committed to someone or to something means that (a) you will naturally take the time and care to properly understand it or them, (b) you will organize your life in such a way to tend and cultivate what you are committed to, and (c) you will follow through on your commitment despite various costs and difficulties.  Therefore, commitment entails understanding, attentive care, and sacrifice.

This question is for any leader in any field, and can be translated into any situation…

How can you train someone for a leadership role in the absence of commitment?

Just think, how can you maintain a marriage in the absence of commitment?  How can a teacher effective teach their students, if their students lack sufficient commitment to mastering the material?  The reality of this principle is so pervasive if we think to consider its applications.  How can you educate a community to better themselves if they are not interested in help?  How can you effectively help get someone off drugs or alcohol if they are not committed to the change?  How can you effectively teach and train disciples in the absence of their commitment?  Commitment is central to our lives on many levels.


Now I am going to give a brief recapitulation of this theory in its practical context of life.

Integrating Character (IC) is the core foundation for which we build our lives.  Honesty is the most fundamental aspect of humility.  There is a saying in 1 Peter 5:5 that says, “Be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  The potent power of being honest with ourselves gives us the ability to examine who we are, why we are here, where we are going, what life is all about, what we stand for, what we don’t stand for, what our goals in life are, what our dreams, desires, failures, motivations—thus the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Unfortunately, the American culture does not support such a radical honesty, because if we were to step outside of ourselves and take an accounting of our souls we would be surprised.  Now I recognize there are different depths of this accounting, because for those of you interested in spiritual and moral transformation we must go deep down the rabbit hole (pun intended).  This would include taking ownership and eventually mastery of our emotions, our thoughts, our words, and the energies that are processed through our body-temple.  This is no small journey, but this journey of self-leadership begins with radical honesty with ourselves and seeking to see others and this reality for what it is.

Once we begin the process of investigating our intentions, motives, and why we speak and do the things we do – we need to add the element of commitment.  We must commit to this path, because without doing so we will simply give off the perfume of hypocrisy.  You have inherent value, and this gift of life that you have been given is most precious and deserves your deepest commitment and passion.  In our discovery of “coming to ourselves” (cf. Luke 15:17) we should exercise vulnerability because we honestly recognize our weaknesses.  Every human being on this planet has issues, no one is exempt from this reality.  In fact when you begin to look deep into the eyes of humanity, the inherent suffering that each of us have is clearly witnessed.  Therefore, vulnerability and compassion enables us to extend this open hand to others, in the silent honor that all the pretenses we hold up—just need to be dropped.  Let go of the facade, let go of the pretenses, the false projections—it is unbecoming.

So with our honesty and our commitment to refining our character by integrating ourselves so that we are whole beings living consistently in all situations, relationships, and communications.  The vulnerability to properly engage others respectfully will open our eyes and give us the resilience needed to successfully adapt ourselves by constantly learning, growing, and giving.  The aspect of resilience naturally leads into Adapting Competence (AC), because we must continuously seek to learn from the experiences we have in life.  You take yourself where-ever you go!  If you find yourself repeating unfavorable patterns in your relationships it would be wise to take heed, and examine yourself.

Adapting Competence contains the elements of Emotional Intelligence (EI), knowledge management, continuous learning or Kaizen, and various cognitive thinking styles.  These aspects relate to the cognitive and emotional building blocks that are necessary to (a) properly evaluate information [i.e. knowledge management and cognitive thinking styles], (b) understand and regulate our own internal states [i.e. EI], (c) properly understand boundaries and levels of relationship engagement [i.e. EI], and (d) to continuously grow [i.e. Kaizen].  Adapting Competence encompasses much more than these aspects because to flesh out Emotional Intelligence in its various categories and sub-categories is enough to keep us busy for some time, because it paints a usable model for examining ourselves and our relationships – so to not reinvent the wheel a link has been embedded to give you a good overview of the model.  Another reason why we need various cognitive styles is because language can be used to edify, tear down, or deceive—thus its necessary to learn reasoning skills, cognitive fallacies, and communication skills.

Reviving Communication (RC) simply means to bring life into your communication and into the relationships you find yourself in.  What are you passionate about?  Why?  Why?  Why?  We should be able to answer each of these “Why’s” because we should know what we stand for – inside and out.  We communicate this via our vision of the big picture, the overall strategic intent, and how this relates systemically to the rest of life – and we do this by being able to communicate on various levels from the global and abstract to the concrete and specific.


Risk to Lead Theory (RLT) is about you becoming self-defined by leading yourself and extending this humility and confidence in such a way so as to embody respect, honor, and dignity for each human being and their uniqueness.  You take the risk first, in order to lead the situation in such a way to create the space for psychological safety to take root for others to open up so they can express themselves more completely.  We all know the feeling of “walking on eggshells” but when you take the risk to lead—you create the tone, tempo, and space for greater possibilities to emerge.



Peace be with each of you – as you learn to harmonize the energies of your life…..



Risk to Lead Theory


Legacy of my Father

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties (the last five years) that I really got to see my dad for who he was, and I am grateful on many levels for the quality times we spent together.

My father, Robert, recently passed on 9/1/2012 at 10am EST from liver disease.  I was not present for his death, although I wanted to be.  When I got the call from my mom, my wife and I immediately had a “moment of silence” to honor his life and death.  During that time I saw my dad in my mind’s eye “far off” and surrounded by many beings clothed in white and shining.  I realize that this may sound fanciful, and I acknowledge that this is my subjective experience – but this is what I saw.  I asked what he wanted to be remembered for at his memorial, and I “heard” these words, “Diligently find your meaning and purpose in life and walk in it.”

When I talked to my dad’s sister she had the same feeling that he had completed what he was here to do.  She recounted that when her mother and father passed that there were some experiences she had that served as a form of verification that her mother or father was still “around” within the first week or so of their passing.  However, with her brother (my dad) she felt that he was ‘out of here and not looking back.’  My wife, Kelly, corresponded the same thing to me when we finished our “moment of silence.”

My dad was born in 1940, and by the age of 18 he was already making more money than his dad.  He had a gift for electronics, and this gift came from a natural curiosity to understand how things worked.  As a child, when he would get toys he would take them apart to see how they worked.  He was very inquisitive, figuring out how TV’s worked, chemistry, building models, telescopes, microscopes, and eventually electrical work.  This drive and curiosity to discover how external things work and function, has been a drive for me too, however, my drive has been to discover how internal things work and function.  For example, how thoughts and emotions impact the body, or to discover how someone represents their model of the world through language and behavior, or how to integrate our spiritual potential into our current lives.  Another gift that I gleaned from my dad was his ability to pick up on things quickly, and to be mindfully perceptive about current surroundings.

Anyone who knew Robert, or as he was usually called…Bob, knew him as a lover – as someone who greatly cared for the well-being of others, and who despised unjust authority enacting itself against the well-being of others.  My dad rarely openly talked about his spiritual life, at least with me, yet there were times when he shared some of his experiences and insights about life.  My dad was the type of man who could be vulnerable enough to allow his emotion to pierce through, so one could witness his heart.  He loved mystery, science-fiction, and things beyond the mundane.  He loved to help others in significant ways through his time and resources.  He loved to make people laugh, and going through the old photos it became obvious that he was most happy when he was entertaining and serving others.  He volunteered at Habitat for Humanity for years, was Santa for children in the local community, he also comforted the local veterans, and helped to raise money for the local community.  He will be missed by many people, but most importantly he was not afraid to take risks in life and because of this he found a sense of fulfillment and joy in living.  As a result of his passing, I have found an invigorated sense within myself to become even more integrated and congruent, because I want my dad to be proud of me – and since geographic location is no longer an issue the incentive to “walk in it” has become a positive pressure.