Wisdom from a Young Leader (Hannah)

On Sunday, May 6th, I helped facilitate my last graduation of students from our Region’s Youth Leadership Program on the beautiful Milligan College campus. In the last 10 years, I have had the blessed privilege of seeing around 300 students to this point. There were a few unique things that made this last time special.

One of those I share with you here. At this graduation exercise, the students present a brief talk before the attending crowd. Following is one talk on which I found myself hanging on her every word. Consequently, I asked Hannah for permission to share the manuscript of her speech here on my blog. Enjoy, share, and please respond with a comment and be part of continued encouragement for this wonderful young leader. Thank you Hannah!

Hannah’s Talk …

You know sometimes when you’re standing right in the middle of something so substantial, it can be hard to see the big picture; and my generation is living in the very heart of a technological revolution.

Fifty years ago, you would actually have to get out of your seat if you wanted to change the channel, and computers were as large as bedrooms and not something you could use at home. Likewise, one hundred years ago portable telephones were just a dream and the radio was gaining popularity. If you look into medieval times or even the early renaissance period, you would see that one new invention or change in one hundred years was an accomplishment.

Now, we are impatiently awaiting the arrival of the new iPad, iPhone or wireless vacuum cleaner that does the cleaning for you. New technology is just a part of our modern culture and although it’s all fun and useful, there are also some negative effects involved. The things that are supposed to make our lives simpler can cause clutter, and also be a source of division.

Yes, with phones and video chat we are able to keep in touch with friends and family that have moved away, but they also keep us from face-to-face conversations with those who are close to us. For example, a minivan with a TV attached to the ceiling of the car. These can be useful on long car rides when kids get really bored; but I think a child can survive a 15 minute car ride to the grocery store without having to watch cartoons. I remember whenever we would go on long car rides when I was younger, my brother and I would make up stories and reenact them with whatever stuffed animals I happened to bring so we didn’t really need the TV.

Other examples can be seen at any average high school with teenagers walking down the hallway on their phones listening to music or texting … while that thing standing next to them? Why yes, that is a fellow human being. Our imaginations and creativity, along with the discoveries of those who came before us, are what enabled us to come this far; however, if we don’t take some time just to stop and think without the aid of a television or discuss something with someone face-to-face, we might lose the thing that has carried us through wars, diseases, and disagreements among friends: our humanity.

So, while extremely useful and fun in many ways, technology can also be a hassle. It can cause clutter and be a source of division in our lives. I’m not saying that you should throw away every worldly device you have so you can find yourself, but maybe every once in a while instead of turning on the television, you could discuss something with a friend or family member, or maybe try something you never have before.

It’s a big world out there with lots of different places that don’t require 10 lbs worth of devices, and plenty of sights worth seeing through your own eyes and not the screen of a computer … so just enjoy it!

A Steady Walk (Free in the Story)

The trust you seek in any situation begins within you.

I talk, and write (profusely it seems), about presence and being present−the unfolding of things in and around us. And yet, volumes could be filled with what I still have to learn about being with in the unfoldment. Lately I have realized the importance of consciousness with each step; a detachment from my need to understand (my own private version of control). Step-by-step, I am holding the joy found in the blessings of experience (one-by-one).

In a reflective time, I have learned what it means to really contemplate and participate in the unfolding flow: “Take a long, loving look at what really is.” I learned this definition of contemplation from my study of the works of Richard Rohr, who also says that, “Contemplation is a way to hear with the spirit and not with the head.”

For me, I suppose it is simply part of my spiritual wiring, but I must learn continually on my journey and share this with you through story and storytelling. For those close, I issue my apology; for both the constant of this and that it is most likely to continue. But you see, this is my love. My desire (fueled by love) is my energy for spiritual service. My intent (guided by love) is confident freedom in spiritual service. My unfolding confidence swirls in the commerce of storytelling.

Yes, building a story with you is my love applied.

Free in the Story

Inside you begin as the seed of trust sprouts,
determined in the spirit with each step.

The gift of intuitive instinct guides focus,
each path individually unique.

You move along a purposeful path,
blessings of experience strengthen resolve.

Resonate voice scripts the scenes of life,
a courageous yes to what is true.

Enlightened in trust you have learned,
love flows through a serving purpose.

−J. Brunson

21st Century Skill: Storytelling
Book 1, Chapter Six: Love

You – A Source of Impact

If there is a simple clue to personal and professional growth, it just may be that interest creates energy. And possibly the most pertinent experience of true growth and development is the journey itself. Sometimes we find purpose and sometimes purpose finds us. The connection to the energy of one’s purpose cannot become tangible without intention; a courageous interest for impact.

Relaxing into one’s purpose is not a step by step process one can learn and apply. It is a journey within the journey. The path is charged with peril, not the least of which comes from within our self. An interruption to the learning process as we move along is the need to control.

Even while earning a certain meritorious level of my own expertise, I was led to realize the need to release; to let up on myself and let go. It is a wonderful thing to observe the flowing expertise of another; and wonderful still when we observe our own flow.

How do we measure impact? The answer begins in your own unique Desire & Intent for those you lead, influence, and serve … those for whom your story has impact.

The impact you most desire unfolds and is accomplished through what you already possess: Your own authenticity in your own Story. Trust yourself.

Trust Yourself (Expertise)

In the agitation of intentional transition
a threat to confidence I consciously allowed.

Soul asks, “Do you know what you can do?”
and reminds me of a casual style avowed.

A loving voice not my own exhorts, “Trust yourself”
melting the icy texture of fear into knowledge matured.

With casual trust I float in creative flow
exiting a bubble of limitation with confidence assured.

−J. Brunson

21st Century Skill: Personal/Professional Growth Management
Book 1, Chapter One: Impact
Ric’s Reflection

Reflections for Your Awareness (It is Personal)

It’s hard to get anyone to truly hear your story until it’s personal. We have to make the story personal.
-From post 7/20/2011 by Ric Gonzalez, Woo Woo Leadership

Our Christmas 2011 was experienced in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. On the evening prior to returning home (Christmas evening), I went to the desk clerk to get some coffee as the housekeeping staff had been given the day off. Deanna retrieved my packets of coffee and we began to talk. Her son was departing to Afghanistan the very next morning. On the way in from dinner that evening, we stopped by the lobby as I saw a young man talking to Deanna. I was able to shake her son’s hand and wish him the best. It is a powerful thing to know someone’s story.

Love goes beyond expectation. It is accepted that a leader should be clear with his or her expectations. Too often however, many fail to understand what an expectation conveys in true form. Expectation must communicate desire, intent, and confidence.

Love flows from the confident leader who knows purpose. Purpose shines through a personal narrative that is told in each action as a leader; actions which are consistent expressions of one’s personal story. My friend Judie is free to love by choice and she is free to love differently and equally. She delights in your presence. I am certain Judie would have delighted to be in Deanna’s presence and to share personally in the story of her brave son.

There is a new confidence found in the connection that stories provide. As a storyteller you are present with your love and we have love in your presence. Love is the leader’s power to move us through fear and limitation. The why of love is anchored in one’s personal story. We trust the loving storyteller. So live a narrative that brings desire and intent to tangible reality for self and others.

Reflections for Awareness (Magical Connection)

With the connections made and nurtured over time, the possibilities begin to multiply. What can one person accomplish with a healthy and robust network of personal connections? The simple answer is “anything.” But to get from here to there, the individuals have to align behind a compelling vision of what tomorrow can bring. The story we want to sell to the outside world is crafted within the safety of the network. This is how communication becomes a tool of great power. -From post 6/13/2011 by Ric Gonzalez, Woo Woo Leadership

The Magic of Alignment
My client Tammy creates the magic of alignment as she keeps others connected to reality. Both personally and professionally she remains present with each connection focused on momentary meaning. How she accomplishes this is best expressed in her words; “I focus on the big things at work and the small things at home.”

As a 21st Century leader, and like Tammy, you are not afraid of desire. You are not timid in how you act with purpose. A leader’s Desire & Intent is an authentic energy capable of strengthening the connection between leader and those being led, influenced, and served.

The Power of Connection
The strategic story is meant to bring us together. This can be difficult without the collectively crafted story energized by your purposeful leadership. Guided by purpose, you nurture your connections because you first trust yourself in these relationships. You then allow trust to create energy for others to confidently join in the story.

The energy for collective alignment is cultivated in the power of connection. You share energy to assist others in seeing the strategic meaning in day-to-day work while giving your attention to individual need in the home of one’s labor; the familiar space of individual effort.

BCL Blog 4


The Client Letters 2011 – Six (Joe)


“Hello Joe, what do you do?” Your response, “I Build the Foundation for Collaboration and Success.”

At this point, your Brand connects individually when you demonstrate how you build this foundation: You create an environment of care and value by pushing others to go further than they thought possible.

You are extremely valuable in the industry because of your vast experience, depth/breadth of knowledge, and the ability to thin-slice this experience and knowledge for credible application. Early in our coaching relationship, our first attempt at a personal brand produced an accurate, but not very meaningful, answer to What do you do. The best answer I could get you focused on was, “I keep the lights on.”

Yes, others depend on you at this basic level, but they Trust you for so much more. You have leveraged your own personal brand, combined it with the skill of Collective Facilitation, and become focused. In light of the wisdom of your Brand, I share with others here your 7 Steps for being presently strategic about the future:

  1. Consider the strategic timing of needed dialogue
  2. Consider direction for the issue in the light of the team and associated process
  3. Put time and attention into how you lead others in preparing a plan for dialogue
  4. Invite the right people into the focused discussions as you collectively build the plan
  5. Lead the team to focus on solving the issue at hand
  6. Assign follow-up actions to responsible parties
  7. Learn together from tracking and reporting activities; and make change as needed

My hope is that others, like you, will believe in their ability to collectively facilitate the future, the collective story, in our work today.

Thank you for the privilege of working with you,

Facilitate Focus

Focus is the most challenging of unifying transactions for the leader in this whirl-of-life we know as the 21st Century. Focus clears the path for the leadership others expect of you … the leadership others desperately need you to exhibit. Regardless of where you might be on the chart in your organization, if you are waiting on someone above you to do what you know is right, you are already late with your action; with your own accountability. You have heard it said, Change begins with me. Well, so does accountability.

If there is any hope – and there is – for our organization to thrive in the 21st Century, this hope is found in the confident accountability of the individuals who make up our collective lives. Ignoring this is nothing less than a deliberate plan to fail.

Again, regardless of your position on an org chart, if you are a leader, you are a facilitator. If change begins with you, then you begin  with trust. Success in the act of collective facilitation requires a flow from respect to understanding to clarity. In clear conditions, we can focus both individually and collectively. We can see for miles.

This exhortation is shared as I consider the change in my own work; change aligning my choices and decisions ever more closely to my vision. My experiences of the last 10 years have recently converged in a reminder of the power found in and through the act of focus. For my own impact, it is more important than ever that I continue to narrow my focus and refine my methodology accordingly.