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Posts Tagged ‘Presence’

As I write this, it was 15 years ago and we were preparing to leave the corporate life. We traveled to the region where we now live and purchased a house. I was leaving an organization where I had a good run, with 23 assignments in three states. Many good relationships were built that still nourish my work today.

We moved in December of that year. In January the company brought me back for my final day, and for a surprise going-away party. Being the reason for the party I decided to hang with it until the last person left. I had no idea that would be 1:00 a.m.  After he had too much truth serum, one of the few late attendees seemed upset and decided he needed to tell me something.

His telling was about what an executive had said to him, and how it had obviously disturbed him greatly. I write this as the 2016 presidential campaign season is days from being over. What he had heard was in no way as disgusting as what we have heard in this campaign, but to him it was nonetheless very upsetting. I’ll leave it at that as I’m simply trying to set up my story.

I will call the executive Carl. The division’s Christmas party was being planned, and the name of a recently departed executive came up as someone to put on the invite list. That’s when Carl made his reactive statement. Even though he only said it to the one person, it seems that one person couldn’t help but talk about it to others.

The next morning I traveled back to my new home. I was leaving the company with a signed contract to complete culture work that had been started by my team while employed there, and another contract waiting for approval to begin the leadership coaching part of my practice with nine individuals.

In the following days I could not get that story about Carl off my mind. I respected him enough to confront his reactivity. I called his administrative assistant and set up an appointment. On the day of the call, I found myself pacing in the yard outside my office asking myself how I was going to handle this.

When I got Carl on the phone, I said, I’m going to tell you a story, at any point if I get anything wrong, stop me. I told the story, and he never stopped me. He said that how I told it was how it had unfolded. He then said, “I was just being myself.”

I reminded him of the wonderful things he had led and done in the culture of that organization over the last few years. His presence and work had been part of setting up a needed transformation. I told him I was making this call because I didn’t want to see a simple comment take it all down. I then said to him, “You have a thousand people under your care now, you’ve lost the right to just be yourself.”

Therein lies the mystery of Authenticity. We confuse blatant honesty driven by emotion with real authentic presence. Whatever Carl’s feelings were about the departed executive had nothing to do with the person who had stood before him.

I’ve told this story many times to leader clients whom I felt needed to hear it, but writing it down is causing me to reflect on my own behavior as authentic, or not. It’s rather humbling when that spot is flicked on.

Leadership is about behavior.

It is only about behavior. We influence through behavior. Our behavior can stand in the way of powerful results or our behavior can encourage and empower others toward powerful outcomes.

An organization’s culture does not determine our behavior as a leader, but our behavior as leaders determines our culture. Frankly, I no longer care very much for conversations about culture. I much prefer to keep my energy focus on a body of work that builds confidence.

Realize that it is not how you feel that determines how you act; rather it is how you act that determines how you feel.

−William James (1842-1910)

At the end of the conversation Carl directly asked my advice about what he should do. I told him that he knew the one person that was present that he needed to talk to, and that he must go to him and ask for his forgiveness. Then, ask him who else he should talk to, and then go to each of them and do the same.

In the brightness of the authentic self (what I call Trueness) we clearly see our actions and can observe them factually, before any judgment. There is a narrow space in which such seeing occurs, and we must respond quickly leveling in on what drives us from the deepest place in our being.

Yes, as a leader in the 21st Century, Carl has grown beyond the emotional right to say whatever. However, he is completely free by his Trueness to speak from and with his authentic voice.

Bright Unknowing

Superfluous opinion, you’re not.
Yet trigger pulled, sending brightly
such divisive thinking into the air.

An opinion, only narcissism serves.
Egocentricity, and shallowness lightly,
simply wasting the burst of a flare.

Devastating challenge it was,
when such I realized,
of opinions, I must let go.

Wonderfully freeing it was,
truthful wound cauterized,
of presence, I can now know.

Inauthentic only, an opinion can be,
outwardly lashing,
misrepresentation externally told.

Authenticity, non-dualistic and free,
inwardly flashing,
oneness internally we can hold.

–J. Brunson

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Voice of the Other

Hear the Middle Melody

Through the years of consciously supporting the growth and development of others, I have consequently learned much about personality preferences. We learn about these individual preferences through instruments that type our personality.

I don’t care much for the term “personality type.” I much prefer to reference one’s preferences, for that’s all the varying personality scales are supposedly measuring, a first order of go to in one’s regular activities and interactions. The natural reflex of such preferences can also find us automatically holding a clouded filter through which to feel, hear, and see.

This level of knowledge with preferences has, through experience, taught me much about voice. There seems to be a rather consistent (although somewhat generic) correlation of voice preference with behavioral preference. Instead of a false confidence with such knowledge, I feel a growing accountability to better understand what I know about individual voice, the correlation of voice to Trueness, and the unifying influence of voice consciousness in a needy, 21st Century world.

Fortunate I am to have individuals with whom I regularly learn as we talk, with mutual intentionality, about voice in life and work. Dan Roller is one such person. He willingly holds the creative tension of leading in the 21st Century. Dan’s voice is Centeredness. His work, and purpose, is about showing others the value in what they do through who they are.

You Lead Who You Are

In a podcast conversation with Dan, he talked about being present to others by being present to self. As part of a contemplative practice as a leader, he asks himself in the moments with others, “Who am I being?”

Dan says that to be in relationship with others, and really pay attention to what makes them come alive and contribute in work that they value, we must employ generous listening that actually helps the other know his or her own value. That is when the individual can feel, hear, and see that what they do indeed makes a real difference.

In the work he does, Dan has become a facilitator of conversations intended to draw out the voice of the other. Who he is being in such work is most effective when he is operating from his Trueness. A determining factor of what and how you hear, when with others, is the influence of who you are being when you listen, or when you think you’re listening.

What You Choose

We all have filters clouded by unconscious wearing. Dan believes we can consciously choose to see differently, and therefore to see much more. In the process of choice, you can open to other ways to see situations, and other ways to see the other person.

When in the presence of another, Dan pays attention to who he is being and to what he is choosing to do. As he encourages us, this takes discipline to practice. Filters find their way over our way of feeling, hearing, and seeing very easily.

Dan tells a story of a young man who stood at the microphone at a meeting being conducted about a code of conduct being instated by a school district where Dan consults. He admits to a filter he was wearing as the young man talked; viewing through his get-to-the-point filter (one of those preferences I mentioned), Dan felt the speaker was rambling. He caught himself, removed the filter, and opened his listening (letting go of the filter’s clouded script), and began to hear the voice of the other. He chose to listen for the voice of this young man in what was being said. In the process, Dan found the meeting to be a much more meaningful experience.

Learning to listen to self allows you to become a more generous listener to the voice of the other. Learning to consistently practice present listening to another makes you better able to hear your own voice.

Being able to see yourself, and how you are being with a certain situation, can open your practice of presence. Dan told me that presence, or being present, must become more than something you turn on and off. It is a way of being, a way of being with the other. It is a choice, a choice to feel, hear, and see the reality spoken through the voice of another.

“A moment of Trueness exists when passion, purpose, and presence have aligned and I’m being true to both self and the other in the moment of presence I’ve been given with them.”

When you are truly driven by desire and drawn by intent, then from the middle melody of Trueness you are able to expand into other dimensions of preference and behavior. Successful expansion occurs as you apply your own voice and practice hearing the voice of the other. Together our voices find flow and confident resonance.

Thank you Dan for being a leader willing to be in the conversation with us, and for choosing to feel, hear, and see with us.

A Leadership Poem: Earning the Return

Dan Roller 2Dan Roller has dedicated his energy to helping leaders and organizations build the capabilities they need to execute on what matters most to them. Dan founded Acris Consulting to bring the expertise of those who have a passion for execution to the field of education where he first began his career as a secondary and post-secondary teacher.

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A Flight of Gratitude

Feel the Rhythm

One weekend evening, sitting in my easy chair watching TV, I heard a scratching sound. It seems it was coming from downstairs in the den next to my office. There is a wood stove in that den and something was in the chamber just before the stovepipe connection. I wondered if it was a leaf moving to a draft coming down the flu and into the pipe. I simply tried to ignore the noise for a few days.

Eventually, I became concerned that it may be a living … something. I got my tools and prepared a contraption to cover the opening once the pipe was disconnected. My improvised cover was a halved, gallon milk jug. Upon placing over the opening, I saw an arm-like appendage slowly reach toward the white glaze of the covering letting in light that hadn’t been seen in days. It was the hand-like portion of a bat’s wing.

I pulled on some gloves, placed my hand inside a black garbage bag, removed the covering constructed from my fear of what I’d find, and pulled the helpless little creature from his iron prison. And that is when the coolest thing happened.

I took the bagged bat outside and gently uncovered him on the ground in a clearing among the trees in our yard. It was a breezy day, and to be sure he was okay I stood right there with him. The little mammal was weak, but soon opened his wings and allowed the breeze to lift his body into flight. He began to circle me in a tight spiral for several rounds that kept going until he reached an altitude sufficient for going home. I’m convinced to this day that it was a flight of gratitude.

The Melody of the Middle

Through the years, Allen’s dad taught him about the flight with gratitude. Without gratitude we are grounded by the politics of resentment and the politics of vengeance.

I wanted to interview my friend, Rev. Allen Huff, and write about him because I know him as an individual who truly lives, loves, and leads from the middle, a position and stand where one can generously hold what too many quickly lock away in cast iron judgment.

The need to win over others (be right versus do what’s right), Allen believes, comes from fear; and fear is the source of vengeance and resentment. Strong in the middle with a commitment to gratitude is where we constantly find the energy needed to forgive, and be forgiven. To forgive is not about assuming an authority position over another. As Allen’s dad exhorts us, “Be grateful in the presence of the person where you find yourself.” To be grateful for the person, regardless of the circumstance, is a present moment practice.

“Doubt is welcome. But fear? We must learn to manage our fear and to Love like our lives depend on it. And, in truth, they do.” –from Sermon, 4/3/2016

Leading from the middle, in the power of gratitude and unafraid presence free of judgment, is where we practice forgiveness in our individually unique brand of leadership love. And, when you get here, to this middle filled with gratitude, you can now let go of either/or and truly understand, and live, both/and.

Your freedom is your rhythm. Freedom within your own rhythm is not to the left with desire, not to the right with intent. You only find your rhythm in the both/and−by consciously and creatively holding the tension of the middle.

Strategic Gratitude

Allen’s dad taught him to cultivate a powerful present-moment strategy for gratitude: to move his attention from “in order to” to “for the sake of.” Attention focused “for the sake of” changes the whole feel of the rhythm that is your Desire & Intent, and your solid, present stand as a leader.

Allen told me that to forgive is not about adding to one’s suffering, but about freeing all parties into the flight of relationship. In the realm of leadership, and as a leader standing firm in the grateful middle, forgiveness is always about more than just the issue or situation at hand. The leader who becomes accountable with forgiveness always sees farther than the manager of simple process−she gratefully holds accountability to the future, our future together.

The challenge we feel with topics like gratitude and forgiveness in the world of our work exists because we so easily judge one another, and assess situations as if there is a requirement to separate into right or wrong, and left or right.

What is it we have to forgive? It is paradox. Where is gratitude found? In the present. Paradox exists in everything we are faced with doing, especially in leading. And leading, in its truest form, occurs in the present and in the presence of others.

Living one’s Trueness, a true life, and the individual and collective rhythms associated, is essential to individual completeness and to collective wholeness in a needy world. Leadership is not about power; power over another. Leadership is about generosity−a practical appreciation (gratefulness) for those you lead, influence, and serve.

Thank you, Allen, for being a champion for freedom, gently showing us the opening that is there for our own flight of gratitude.

Allen Huff is the pastor for Jonesborough Presbyterian Church in Jonesborough, TN. Allen loves nature and is a skilled photographer.
Allen’s Blog

A Leadership Poem: Graceful Tension

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Deep Impact

Feel, Hear, See


What is the deeper context to which this work has led me?

Somewhere in the four years of living this beautiful question the answer began to surface. The flawless answer was first a seed, predestined to sprout within a deep, inner and original conversation. Such conversation is born in Trueness.

Trueness is your authentic self, from the beginning, with colors and hues on the original palette, simply waiting to be stroked into beautiful, present being by the dance and dialogue of artist and canvas.

“Part of being present has everything to do with being true to yourself. If you are true to your passion and your purpose … then, they align with presence.” –Dan Roller, Acris Consulting

Trueness, it seems, was my one-word answer to the question of deeper context. I had been brought to the middle of my own Trueness, and I became more dedicated than ever to support the shift toward Trueness in others.

A Story of Impact

This work I’ve been given to do allows me the opportunity to journey at length with special individuals. One such privilege is my colleague Ric Gonzalez. I’ve known Ric long enough, and have been close enough over the years, to observe his evolution and transformation into the realm of his Trueness. Ric, through his life and work, is making an impact.

Writing about Ric brings to mind a project I learned about when working a gig with the Jet Propulsion Laboratories and the International Storytelling Center. The JPL project was called Deep Impact. I interviewed one of the project team members and heard what it was all about. A probe was launched with the intention of colliding with a nearby comet.

The probe was described to me as a solid mass about the size of a coffee table, with no damaging ordnances aboard. Once it would meet the targeted comet, it would make a deep impact and send out debris that could then be studied, resulting in a better understanding of the comet’s makeup and origin.

Why would I compare Ric to a solid mass meeting a target? Ric intends no harm in the work he has chosen, and that has selected him. However, his intention has drawn him forward to make a deep impact. He then pays attention to what swirls in the space between what he desires and what he intends–being present in the creative and tense space of the work he does. In such space, Ric becomes more aware of his own Trueness while simultaneously gaining a better understanding of those he leads, influences, and serves. This is Ric’s deep impact.

Feel, Hear, See

In and with Trueness, I had my why and what. This left me with the question of how. The answer to how was tucked away in my authentic self. In one word, my how is Rhythm.

The answer of Rhythm opened yet further conversation as I found myself asking, What is it about rhythm I so desire to teach?

Writing this series on Your Rhythm in Leading is part of the journey toward an answer. As I’ve learned to live the questions, I’m finding I must many times live into the answers–it is an unfolding.

The methodology I’ve found to illustrate one’s rhythm with passion, purpose, and presence has sub-rhythms within. One such pulse contained within is associated with the outcomes one values. I know this pulse as feel, hear, see.

As for Ric, and the reality of his impact, he has taken accountability for why he feels, what he hears, and how he sees. He listens in the flow, and in the process honors his rhythm.

We desire and intend the same for you!

“What would it be like to take a professional approach to the longings of our soul for fulfillment in the world?” –David Whyte, The Heart Aroused: Poetry and the Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America

And thus, thanks Mr. Whyte, answering this question has been my journey for the last 20 years!

A Leadership Poem: Soul to Soul

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Dragonfly lessons of BEING true

 “The freedom you need to lead in loving rhythm
is secured by the privilege of being true.”
~Jeff Brunson

“Too often we get wrapped up in the here and now, the day-to-day, and we don’t take the time to take a step back and look at who we are and who we have become. We often overlook the messages that are telling us to get out of our rut and try something different, even uncomfortable. Or maybe we just need to get back to who we really are. Exploring these messages is where we can find inspiration that often leads to the creative tension that becomes our pivot point of innovation. That chance to actively make a change.”

These are the words I wrote last August when Jeff and I began this Creative Tension journey, for ourselves and for you. And as I began to reflect on this journey that began at then end of summer, and where we are today at the edge of a new summer, a familiar being has made its presence known to me again, the dragonfly. I’ve known for a long time that the dragonfly has a strong symbolic meaning in many cultures. So I did some Jennifer 7B-1research to find out what the symbolism behind the dragonfly was. As I was reading through various sites, it became obvious that the dragonfly symbolism was very relevant to my personal journey over the past few years. In many cultures, the dragonfly is a symbol for change. This isn’t so much about doing as it is about being. It’s about the change that comes from a deeper understanding of yourself, a greater sense of self-awareness. It’s change as a result of a deeper mental and emotional maturity. My journey through the recent few years included a lot of change: personally, professionally, mentally, and emotionally. For much of this time, it seems the dragonfly was making its presence felt. So as we conclude our current journey and prepare for the next, I wanted to share five lessons from the dragonfly as a way to acknowledge where we have come from, what we have learned, and embrace the journey ahead of us and the potential this will bring.

Lesson 1: Take time to reflect and embrace what you see.

Jennifer 7B-2GATHER. A dragonfly can live as little as 3 months or as long as 10 years with most of its life as a nymph, a child, living in the water and not yet flying. Once the dragonfly emerges from the water as an adult, it can immediately fly. It goes through a metamorphosis and spends a short time as an adult skimming lightly across the water.

As leaders, because we are so busy worrying about others, we often don’t take time to reflect on ourselves. The lesson here is take the time to look beyond what is on the surface and look at the deeper aspects of life. Look inside and clearly identify what makes up who you are, your most important values, your strengths, your personal purpose. This exercise in Gathering will help you to be better prepared mentally and emotionally to embrace a change when the time is right.

Lesson 2: Dance with strength and agility.

RENEW: The dragonfly has the ability to move in all six directions: up/down, Jennifer 7B-3forward/backward, side to side. It can fly up to 45 miles an hour or just hover. And all of this is done with a grace and strength that defies the simplicity of effort used. The dragonfly’s wings beat only 30 times a minute. Through the power exerted, and the agility of movement, the dragonfly is able to “dance” through life rather than fight to survive.

As you look to create life balance for yourself, remember to identify ways to renew and replenish your energies: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. This renewal will help you to build your own strength and agility so you can engage in the dance rather than the fight, and lead others to do the same.

Lesson 3: Focus on living IN the moment.

PRESENCE: The dragonfly is the epitome of living IN the moment. With only a short time as an adult and able to fly, the dragonfly lives a full life and leaves nothing to be desired.

Living in the moment is something we humans find very difficult to do. We are almost always worrying about the past and how we could have done something differently, or concerned about the future and if we are going to do something just right. Living like this has a way of transforming human beings into human doings. By slowing down and living IN the moment, we are more aware of where we are, who we are with, what we are doing, and most importantly, WHO we are. With this internal and external clarity, we can make more informed decisions about those we lead, including ourselves.

Lesson 4: Eliminate self-created illusions.

TRUENESS: The iridescence of the dragonfly’s wings and body will appear as different colors depending on the angle and polarization of the light touching it. This property of the dragonfly is seen as an end of self-created illusions and a beginning of self-realization and a clear vision of the future. The magic of the iridescence symbolizes a discovery of one’s own strengths and abilities, helping to reveal the true self.

Jennifer 7B-4We all have our stories that we tell ourselves. These stories can reinforce a negative cycle of doubt and worry, or even delusion. Or these stories can support a positive move forward toward our goals, our purpose. The key is to cast aside any stories that hold us back and strengthen those that reveal our true selves.

Knowing who we REALLY are, will help us to set appropriate and achievable goals.

Lesson 5: Keep your eyes, and your mind, open.

GROW: One of the key traits of the dragonfly is the eyes. Over 80% of a dragonfly’s brain is used for vision. And with the compound, spherical vision, a dragonfly can see in all directions at the same time.

This symbolizes the ability to see beyond what we may be currently experiencing, the Jennifer 7B-5limitations and the barriers, to see a much bigger, more complete, picture. As leaders, we set goals for our personal and work lives, and as we diligently work to achieve those goals, it’s easy to lose sight of a bigger picture. Remember to stop and look around, in all directions. Reflect on the past, BE in the present, and look forward to the future.

As one of the oldest living species, going back over 300 million years, there is much we could learn from the dragonfly. From the beginning, it lives in creative tension, yet manages to dance through life with a strength and agility that defies perception. As leaders, the creative tension we often feel is the conflict between trueness and perception. When we lead with our true selves, the result is freedom.

I hope you have enjoyed this journey and engaged in a bit of divergent thinking and play. Thank you, Jeff, for this wonderful opportunity! I look forward to traveling with you all again someday. But for now, I can’t help but look forward to warmer days, by the water, looking for a chance meeting with a colorful dragonfly. May your future be full of elegance, strength, insight, and color!

References:

1 http://www.dragonfly-site.com/meaning-symbolize.html

2 http://scienceblogs.com/grrlscientist/2009/07/08/30000-facets-give-dragonflies/

3 http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/arthropoda/uniramia/odonatoida.html

Jennifer Rainey "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

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Through the Door of Possibility

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Rhythm

As Jen has said, purpose is the embodiment of strengths. Love flows when you lead and live with purpose. In Trueness, you are unrestrained to lovingly lead us from the rhythm of your strengths applied.

Jen and I were in a call with three other important individuals to our own work and rhythm: Dan, Mayra, and Ric. Dan had asked a powerful question causing us each to tell a story of a point of turning in our work; a moment ultimately, for sure, guiding us to deeper context, purpose, and Trueness.

As I listened to the individual answers, and beautiful stories, a story from my journey suddenly crystallized as that definitive pivot. When it came my turn, I told the story. Knowing our final posts in this series would carry a theme of love, and story, Jen encouraged me to write about this point of turning. I did write about this in 2014, but forgive me as I briefly share the story again as we close this series.

Close to a quarter century now, and it still plays in my mind like it was yesterday. Cliff (her nickname) was at our house for a southern supper. She had family in Alabama and had told me how she missed southern BBQ. At the time, I was a manager of a field accounting team. Cliff was my staff specialist and the team’s technical support.

I was on the brick terrace just outside the kitchen tending to the grill and the main course for the southern delight we were about to share. As it was a lovely Ohio evening, the kitchen window was cranked open. Through the window I heard Cliff say to Becky how much the individuals on the team liked working with me. That’s when Becky said what has stayed with me all these years: “Cliff, Jeff loves each and every one of you.”

Becky has always been my rock of support for who I am and what it is I really do, my purpose. She knew then that all I did to lead, support, and develop the individuals in my care was done from a place of love.

If we devote ourselves to the effort to be real, the Universe in all its forms will find us, the way that wind finds leaves and waves find shore. –Mark Nepo

When you finally commit to lead from the rhythm of your Trueness, you can grasp the reality that there is no priority higher than that of your love.

Love, for me, is the creative tension in the Gather, Give, Grow rhythm of my strengths. Love is my voice. To encourage is the strength of my voice. Love flows through the cadence of passion, purpose, presence.

My passion is my desire that you embrace the power of who you are. My purpose draws me toward work, and a way of living, that encourages the loving leader in you. This passion and this purpose bring me into a space with you, to share presence.

The freedom you need to lead in loving rhythm is secured by the privilege of being true.

A Leadership Poem: The PrivilegeR1-06932-0024

 

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What is Calling for Your Attention?

~ Give to Grow ~

The rhythm of your strengths is an operating model for the power of your presence. In such rhythm is how you give your gift in this world.

The gifts of the moment, when consciously received, give far into the future.

Your genius is in how you live the rhythm of your strengths–your guiding spirit. Jennifer and I chose to write this series on Gather-Give-Grow because of how this energy universally represents the resonance of Trueness. We don’t just write to you because you are a leader on paper, a position entitled by a box on an organizational chart. We write to you to encourage the leader within.

As Jennifer tells us, our growth and development may take many experiential forms, but we grow best when we consciously apply our Trueness. Such application is not a selfish preference, forcibly projected at others. Rather, it is a selfless method focusing you fully in the moment and on those who presently need you at your best, as you walk your path of genius.

What is calling for your attention?

This is a question of presence.

In a recent conversation, Jennifer summarized simply what I heard as her passionate commitment to herself and to you: Authentic Leadership. Unquestionable evidence of your authentic growth is how you’ve helped another grow. As our colleague, Ric Gonzalez, says, true giving is done without attachment: “This is true generosity. Practicing it is a skill, and it it takes a whole lot of work.”

Further, Ric says that detaching from outcomes frees our giving for actual impact of the gift given. And the most precious gift, and form of giving, I can receive from you, my leader, is your presence.

Your desire and your intent, when joined in leading from Trueness, induce creative tension. It is this intersection and tense union that Jennifer and I write about in this series, and we do so to encourage you.

The desire that drives you as a leader will join with intent that draws you forward. The spirit of this union encourages your Trueness through creative tension–suffering the attachment to desire and the detachment required by the reality of intent.

In trusting your Trueness, and holding creative tension until it teaches you in the present, you free your strengths into a large territory, calling ever more deeply on your genius.

A Leadership Poem: Present Value

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