the need for leaders

The Need For Leaders

September 25, 2020

Nathan Schaffernoth

Read the article based on this episode, “There’s Something Going Wrong Around Here.“

As we are in the middle of a pandemic, it is easy to get negative. But this time of crisis opens the door to not just danger, but opportunity. Those who have accomplished extraordinary things in the past faced crises just like us, but were able to look past the danger to see the opportunities.

We are in need of such leaders today: leaders who rise up in their communities, creating solutions the governments and corporations of the world cannot solve. Leaders who might feel too afraid or too small to lead now, but with the right courage, knowledge, and support, can change the world.

The hope of these podcasts is to start conversations around leadership, knowing that this is exploration more than it is certainty. The study of leadership doesn’t stand still, but is evolutionary – constantly growing, changing, and teaching us. Join Russ Ewell on this leadership journey.

“Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak”

Thomas Carlyle— Volumes of his books

My Leadership Notebook

The following are my handwritten notes illustrating my thoughts and ideas still in development. I’d like to give you a window into my thought process each week, in hopes that it will inspire you to unleash your own creativity and embrace imperfection.


Welcome to the lead different podcast. Hopefully, you’ve already seen our newsletter that goes out on Fridays. And it will be a version of what we’re going to do on the podcast, but the podcast is going to expand on it. And so you may feel some repetition in here, you may feel like there isn’t repetition. But the whole goal here is just to be able to give you as much content as we can about leadership. That’s our real goal. That’s our real aim. That’s what we’re trying to accomplish. And so the title theme of the newsletter was, “Something’s Going Wrong Around Here.” And that’s from a favorite song of mine when I was in the dorm, back in college. And I was trying to, you know, do what everybody else was doing, which has some fun and enjoy ourselves in the dorm. And the truth of the matter is, that’s when I did a lot of reading that wasn’t reading from my schoolwork, it was reading on my own.

And I got into a lot of different people who talked about history and leadership. And then there were some that just talked about philosophy of life. And I’m sure many of you who took time out with you into college or not to read extra did it and I became them a bit of a student of leadership. And what we’re going to try to do in this podcast, this site, is we’re going to try to provide some of that. So let me just kind of go through and talk about a little bit more and expand on what’s in the newsletter. something’s gone wrong around here is a concept that it goes beyond the song. Thomas Carlyle had a really great quote, “Permanence, perseverance and persistence, in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities, it is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”

Now, Thomas Carlyle was a pretty unique guy, writer, thinker, associated in a huge way with Ralph Waldo Emerson, if you are familiar with him, and like him, and thereby sort of related to and connected to Henry David Thoreau, all good thinkers, and he wrote an incredible book that is a history of the French Revolution. But if you read it, it’s multi volume. And I think there’s a single volume out there too. And if we can get links to that, we’ll put them in the show notes for you. But he gets into how the French Revolution took place, what went on, and really had I think, if I remember, right, read it about 13-14 years ago, if I remember right, he had more of a position of Edmund Burke, the conservative English thinker and leader, which was that the French Revolution took the wrong path of leadership. Now, there’s a lot of good that makes France what it is today. But the the reign of terror was a bit out of control, and in part because of the ineffectiveness of leadership. And so he writes here and says, Look, there’s going to be obstacles discouragements and impossibilities in life. And the answer to those three obstacles. discouragements and impossibilities are permanence, perseverance and persistence. I just think it’s what it takes for our dreams to come true.

Leadership is part of making dreams come true not just for ourselves but for others. Now, during this difficult time over the last six months, I know we’ve been in Coronavirus, lock downs and limited and held back and I know for me the pandemic stress, the Coronavirus stress, has been the four DS is what I’ve come up with over the time of this pandemic related stress and also fire related stress. The 4 Ds disorient distract, disrupt and derail. Disorient came from the sense that I began to understand that when things happen that were out of my control, I would lose my sense of direction and purpose, which led me to get distracted. And that meant I was being dominated by the urge instead of focused on the important if you ever done that? Were you doing a lot of work and you’re working really hard, but you look up and you’re not working really smart, because you’re focused on the emotionally urgent. Instead of the prioritized important the things the important things are the ones that are going to really build our lives. And I figured out that once I got disoriented, and then I went to step two to being distracted, the next thing you know, my life was disrupted. I was completely losing emotional discipline. I’m an emotional person. I don’t know about you, but I’m an emotional person. And that’s part of what I’ve had to learn to tame and get under control and manage better in order to be a more effective leader, but that’s just completely losing emotional discipline and having my life thrown into a bit of chaos or upheaval, but not because necessarily the events and circumstances were so incredibly challenging. But because I did not handle being disoriented, distracted well, and as a result ended up disrupted, you may be familiar with some of the philosophies of how to perform and lead in the presidency. presidency of the United States is the one I speak as particularly, but there are a lot of other presidencies and premierships that fall into this category of, of wisdom as well as corporations and nonprofit and for profit corporations. And that’s this principle that one of the greatest challenges to the president knighted states is to not allow himself to be controlled by events, because there’s so many things they get hit by. And so what I realize is when I allow myself to be controlled by events, I become disrupted. And before you know it, I’m derailed, and I’m giving up and abandoning the vision of my life, the vision I have for other people, the vision of what’s to come. Have you ever had that experience where you’ve been disoriented, distracted, disrupted, and derail a lot of leaders face that.

I’ve been looking for a long time for Peter Drucker, quote, I thought for sure, it was Peter Drucker, I contacted the Drucker Institute, and asked them about it. And they got back to me some things about decision making. But the thing I remember from article I read I cannot find is he said that the primary challenge of leaders and the reason that leaders are in rare air a lot is because they experienced the stress of decision making. No one else faces the challenge with decision making, like leaders, if you’re a leader, whether you’re a supervisor, a foreman, a product manager, you run a division, a department, or you have your own startup, a small business, a medium sized business, a fortune 500 company, whether you’re an executive or you’re a junior executive, wherever you are in leadership, the biggest thing you’re going to face the biggest thing I’m going to face stress. That’s my daily challenge. How about you stress, fatigue and fear levels for me during this pandemic, escalated! Yoga and spirituality, that’s where I got my sanity restored, and my hope renewed on a daily basis, as Carlisle refer to those things helped me keep my soul strong, instead of being so weak. And when I think about soul, I think about our internal sense of purpose, and our awareness that there are things bigger than us involved in what we do day to day. Now in the middle of the pandemic, it’s easy to get negative. And I think about the William Sapphire quote William Sapphire, the speechwriter for Nixon and Agnew and a PR executive before that, in a New York Times columnist when I began to read him if you listen to this William Sapphire defined idea of the people who basically say that we’re not in the middle of the band Avik is just getting started. So watch out, you’re gonna die. Those people William Sapphire called it nattering nabobs of negativism. Have you run into some nattering nabobs of negativism just people who nater their neighbors and their negatives. And so when I look at all that, I go, Why in the world would I choose to launch a new site and a new effort during the pandemic? I’m asking myself that question all the time. And I wanted to answer the question by talking about Joe Jackson again, again, Joe Jackson, old time unique dorm music, is she really going out with him? Some of you who are a little older may remember that. And he has this line that I always held on to back then and now. Because if my eyes Don’t deceive me, there’s something going wrong around here.

Right now in 2020. And probably we’re being set up for the next 10 years, in my opinion, we’re seeing danger. But there’s also opportunity, a play on what Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, said, when he talked about the Chinese symbol for crisis, that it had both danger and opportunity. And so I think it’s important as we talk about leadership as we think about leadership, that we understand that in our lives now and forever, there will always be danger, and there will always be opportunity. And the people who have done extraordinary things in life. They didn’t face any greater or less danger than we face. They simply were able to see through it all get past those four DS and see the opportunity. For the first time in my life a comparatively long life. When I scan the leadership landscape in the US and around the world. It’s obvious we’re in a leadership crisis. There are leaders but at a time of great challenge. We need great leaders. Sometimes I wonder, do we all see that we’re in a leadership crisis Now are we just being dragged along by the news media and whatever story comes up on the given day where our generations leaders that really are great. Lincoln’s and Seward’s Roosevelt’s and Truman’s Kennedys and Kings are poets are musicians who can write lyrics that are appropriate for the time are Marvin Gaye’s and Bob Dylan’s. The great women which too often are left out: Harriet Tubmans, Helen Keller’s Rosa Parks, Margaret Thatcher’s and Lucille Ball. I’m sure some of you don’t like some of them or think, why are you mentioning them? But these are the kind of people who are on Times 100 Top People for The Century? I’m not picking them because I agree or disagree. I’m picking them because they change the world. Where are the nameless leaders and communities around the world creating solutions to problems that government and corporations cannot solve? People who, you know, they won’t ever be remembered by the history books, but they’ll be remembered by many communities where they changed lives. My answer to the question about where are those leaders is that they’re there. I think many of you are probably those leaders. But we are too small in number. Because many who have the perspective and passion to change the world are simply too afraid to lead. In these cases, those folks, and I’ve been in this spot, lack courage, knowledge, or the support necessary to lead let’s take a look at those three things. Courage, knowledge, support.

I believe one of the things that we have to look at in every organization and every corporation and I’ve been in nonprofits, for profits. I’ve been in religious institutions, working, recreation when I was a kid, gyms, basketball teams, sports teams, the one thing that I’ve always noticed is that those people who can create a culture where you can make mistakes and fail, and learn and develop, produce the most leaders look at the military of the United States. It produces an incredible number of leaders, because there’s a constant feedback loop, a constant sense of training, and there can be failure, and then they learn from those failures. The three things that I think we all need for each for ourselves and to give to others, his courage, knowledge and support, what’s courage about internal deep work, we’re gonna be talking more about that in the future. We don’t become courageous because I’ve done this I’ve posted on the outside and appear tough on the outside, while being completely weak on the inside. Real courage. That’s not abrasive and harsh, real courage. It’s inspiring, starts inside. And it’s deep work, knowledge, intellectual study and experience. One of the reasons I’m putting on putting together this whole podcast is because I want to help everybody get involved in intellectual study and experience. I’ve been around a lot of great people who influenced me to study and learn about leadership. And so knowledge and then finally support deep consistent and unconditional mentorship. We all need mentors, and I’ve had a lot I think about a lot of great ones who’ve done a lot for me, one of my favorites and had a lot of influence on me, especially as I got a little bit older, was one of my best friend Scott Colvin’s dad, Frank, who worked at GM as a top executive for a long time. He gave deep consistent non conditional mentorship, it can’t just be mentorship, it’s got to be deep, it’s got help us with the internal and deep work, it’s got to be consistent, always there. And it’s got to be unconditional.

Most of the most of the reason that we’re afraid to leaders were insecure. And I think more of us have to talk more about our insecurities. Because those produce massive fears. We’ll be talking more about that in the future. But the courage, the knowledge, and the support helps us overcome that. So lead different is my contribution to a new generation of leaders, the older who have never led yep some of you out there are older in life, you’ve got a lot you can give, but you’ve never led before, because you’re afraid. I understand it, I feel it, I relate to it. The younger who wants to lead, you may feel like no one will respect me. No one will listen to me. But I’ve got a lot of ideas Hang in there. I believe that we need you and you can be a leader, and the field leader, I’ve been in all these categories, the failed leader who wonders if he or she has a second act in them. Maybe you’ve been fired from your job, maybe you’ve been demoted. Maybe you’ve lost your job and you can’t find another job. Well, trust me on this. You will. It’s a growing opportunity. It’s a chance to look and say what’s going to be my second act of leadership. My hope is to start a conversation. I’ve worked at this and learned about this for a long time. But I’ll tell you this, I don’t know everything because I believe leadership. Well, let me quote my newsletter. My hope is to start conversation is knowing that for me, this is exploration more than certainty. I like that exploration more than certainly that’s why I wrote it down. Because I believe the study of leadership is evolutionary, I want to convince you that leadership doesn’t stand still. It’s always changing, improving and teaching us by being by experiencing it we we are being taught, improved and change. And if we listen carefully, as Robin Williams said, in the Dead Poets Society, we might hear voices encouraging us to seize the day and become a leader ourselves. That’s right. Maybe you’re old enough to remember sitting in the theater and watching that movie, maybe you watch at home where Robin Williams leans in with all his students, and he says listen to their voices.

Here’s how I hope we can help here at Lead Different. Number one, we’re going to provide you with a Friday newsletter, the lead different newsletter. It’ll be delivered to your inbox for weekend reflection. Number two, we’re going to give you a Lead Different podcast that will be embedded into the newsletter expanding on the content of the newsletter. Number three Lead Different podcast transcription, making it easy to go deeper. That’s right, you’ll be able to get a transcription of what we did here, put it all together in a package. And it’ll just help you think more. I’m not trying to say that I know everything about this. I know I don’t know everything about it. But I think if you’re working, and I’m working, and we’re working together and exploring, we’re all become better leaders. And those of us who are not yet leading will gain the confidence and security. That knowledge I was talking about that courage I was talking about to be leaders. And finally, you’ll get my leadership notebook. This is a new idea, you’ll be able to get in there and click on it. And I’m putting together my leadership notebook because I don’t believe any of the stuff I’m writing is done. There’ll be things that later on I say are wrong, that I don’t even agree with myself on I do that a lot. I don’t agree with myself. Sometimes I get done writing something down. I disagree. Sometimes I get in speaking and I get down. I agree with that anymore. changed, changed in 45 minutes. But my leadership notebook, I’m excited about it. You’re here to see my personal notes. And in thinking the little edges and the little things that I’m thinking about or what I should expand on I want to leave you with this.

Writing is something I enjoy writing is difficult, stressful, frustrating, but only when writing from others. That’s why I’m not going to put a finished product out right away when I write for myself partial thoughts grammatical error, less than well crafted sentences are part of the joy. My special joy is being able to write sentences approaching the robustness of Marcel Proust, who is known to create lengths exceeding 200 words. Yeah, I know I’m dreaming. But that’s how I like to write. So I want to be free to share with you what I’m developing and what I’m thinking about. And I hope you’ll share this with your friends. I hope you’ll subscribe to our newsletter, hope you’ll pass it around. Because I think together, we can be able to assist the world by being a new generation of leaders, whether we’re old, we’re young, we’re new at this or we failed, we can all grow. So take a look at all we’ve got on the site. There’ll be more to come and thank you very much for listening to the lead different podcasts.

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