August 30, 2015
34 Awesome Quotes on Leadership

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1. "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things." - Peter F. Drucker

2. "If you don't understand that you work for your mislabeled 'subordinates,' then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny." - Dee Hock

3. "A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say 'we did it ourselves.'" - Lao Tzu

4. "The led must not be compelled; they must be able to choose their own leader." - Albert Einstein

5. "The manager asks how and when; the leader asks what and why." - Warren Bennis

6. "The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you." - Max DePree

7. "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

8. "The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist." - Eric Hoffer

9. "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

10. "Lead and inspire people. Don't try to manage and manipulate people. Inventories can be managed but people must be lead." - Ross Perot

11. "Those who try to lead the people can only do so by following the mob." - Oscar Wilde

12. "All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." - John Kenneth Galbraith

13. "Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” - Harold S. Geneen

14. "Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them." - John Maxwell

15. "The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision."-Theodore Hesburgh

16. "The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority." - Kenneth Blanchard

17. "Leaders conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations and unite them in pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts." - John Gardner

18. "Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

19. "The ability to summon positive emotions during periods of intense
stress lies at the heart of effective leadership." - Jim Loehr

20. "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they
will surprise you with their ingenuity." - General George Patton

21. As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others." - Bill Gates

22. "Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy." - Norman Schwarzkopf

23. I'm sad to report that in the past few years, ever since uncertainty became our insistent 21st century companion, leadership has taken a great leap backwards to the familiar territory of command and control." - Margaret Wheatley

24. "The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership." - Harvey S. Firestone

25. "One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency." - Arnold Glasow

26. "The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers." - Ralph Nader

27. "You don't lead by hitting people over the head. That's assault, not leadership." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

28. "Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out." - Stephen Covey

29. "No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings." - Peter Drucker

30. "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." - Theodore Roosevelt

31. "A leader is a dealer in hope." - Napoleon Bonaparte

32. "To be able to lead others, a man must be willing to go forward alone." - Harry Truman

33. "Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing." - Albert Schweitzer

34. "People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert." - Theodore Roosevelt

Big thanks to Val Vadeboncoeur for locating most of these quotes.

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August 24, 2015
The Power of Pause

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Who
can
wait
quietly
while
the
mud
settles?

- Lao Tzu

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August 19, 2015
Don't Just Take Our Word For It

Many of you who read this blog, know us only from our writing. But we do way more than write a blog. We help organizations raise the bar for innovation in a wide variety of ways. And we've been doing it since 1987. Click through the slide show above to get the perspective from the folks who know -- our clients.

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August 18, 2015
Wide-Eyed, Wide-Angled

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If you are a regular (or irregular) reader of this blog, you now (as of this moment) have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support the work of a gifted photographer and digital media maven, my son, Jesse, who will be traveling to eight countries for his next semester abroad. My blog is free. His wide angle lens is not. Anything you can contribute will be very much appreciated.

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August 12, 2015
Creativity Late in Life

A lot of people who assume they are "over the hill", may not be aware of the fact that there have been a ton of people, late in life, who have been extremely creative. The above slide show, adapted from Gene Cohen's The Creative Age, highlights this inspiring phenomenon. Watch full screen for most impact.

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August 10, 2015
Innovation & Poetry Are Connected

PS: There is something poetic about innovation. And there is something innovative about poetry. When I'm not working with organizations to spark innovation, I'm writing poetry. Click here to order my book.

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August 02, 2015
How to Attract a Big AHA!

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What is it that allows some people to get creative breakthroughs while others get only creative breakdowns -- alternately blaming themselves, society, their company, and their increasingly suspect astrological configurations?

Is it true that people who experience breakthroughs are "gifted"? Or are there other factors at work -- factors that we (the people) have more control over than we might think?

While nobody can deny that some people seem to be blessed with "creative leanings" (i.e. Mozart at 4), research has shown that anyone can have the much sought after AHA! experience -- that is, IF they immerse themselves in the little understood process of creation.

Time and again, the literature bears this out: great creative breakthroughs usually happen only after intense periods of intention, immersion, struggle -- even madness.

It is sustained and focused effort towards a specific goal -- not luck, wishing, or caffeine -- that ultimately prepares the ground for creative insight.

This kind of effort does not always generate immediate results and sometimes leads people to conclude that it's just not in the cards for them.

Alas, they forget during their inevitable encounters with doubt, that the BIG AHA! is never far away and can happen at any time, any place, under any condition.

Let's take a look at some classic examples:

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RENE DESCARTES
Recognized as the "father of modern science," Rene Descartes offers a very interesting footnote to the history of creative breakthrough.

An exceptionally gifted student in 17th century France, young Rene dropped out of school at the age of 17 upon realizing that the only thing he had learned was that he was completely ignorant.

Law school proved no better, nor did a brief stint in the military, or an aborted career as a gambler.

Frustrated with the choices available to him, Descartes decided to retire at the ripe old age of 20.

While his parents, teachers, and friends pleaded with him to change his mind, young Rene was adamant, and for the next two years did little else but stay in bed, read, think, dream, and write.

Curiously, one night in the second year of his retreat, Descartes had a dream in which the essence of what we now know as the "scientific method" was revealed to him.

In time, his discovery was shared with the scientific community and Western science had a new hero. Ah, the paradox of it all!

While scientists far and wide heralded Descartes for his contribution to Western, rational science, no one (in their right mind) would acknowledge that the root of Descartes' discovery came to him in a dream - a non-rational, non-linear, altered state of consciousness in the mind of a dropout!

Descartes story is not at all uncommon.

The truth, the breakthrough, the AHA! came to him only after years of intense, conscious effort.

Like ripe fruit, the answer made its appearance at the right time -- a time when he wasn't trying, but had let himself be receptive to the promptings of his own subconscious mind.

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ELIAS HOWE
Elias Howe had struggled for years in his attempt to invent a lock stitch sewing machine. His early designs, though inspired, were flawed. Indeed, the needle he designed had a hole in the middle of the shank, which simply didn't work.

Then, one night, depressed at how slowly things were going, Howe dreamed he was captured by a bunch of savages who took him prisoner before the King.

"Elias Howe," screamed the monarch, "I command you upon the pain of death to finish this machine at once!"

Try as he might, Howe still could not find the solution. The King, making good on his word, immediately ordered his troops to take Howe to the place of "execution" (dream pun intended).

As Howe was being led away, he looked up and noticed that the spears the savages were carrying had eye-shaped holes near the top! Voila!

In a flash, Howe awoke, jumped out of bed, and spent the rest of the night whittling a model of the new, improved needle -- the design breakthrough that quickly brought his experiments to a successful conclusion.

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RICHARD WAGNER
At the age of 40, Richard Wagner was going through a serious mid-life crisis. His artistic career was stalled, his marriage was falling apart, and his finances were in shambles.

Desperate, he decided to travel, hoping to find some inspiration. Traveling, however, only tired him.

Then, one morning, just at the moment when he finally gave up on his frantic effort to invoke his muse, Wagner heard a musical theme in a dream -- one that was about to change his life and the history of music.

Explained Wagner, "After a night spent in fever and sleeplessness, I forced myself to take a long walk through the country. It looked dreary and desolate. Upon my return, I lay down on a hard couch. Sleep would not come, but I sank into a kind of somnambulance, in which I suddenly felt as though I were sinking in swiftly flowing water.

"The rushing noise formed itself into a musical sound, the chord of E flat major, whence developed melodic passages of increasing motion. I awoke in sudden terror, recognizing that the orchestral prelude to Das Rheingold, which must have lain long latent within me, had at last been revealed to me. I decided to return to Zurich at once and begin the composition of my great poem."

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MOZART
A prodigy? Yes. Gifted? Yes. Unusually receptive? Yes. But also tuned in to the state of mind that preceded great creative breakthroughs.

Explained Mozart, "When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer -- say traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them."

"Those pleasures that please me, I retain in memory, and am accustomed... to hum them to myself. If I continue in this way, it soon occurs to me how I may turn this or that morsel to account, so as to make a good dish of it....agreeably to the rules of counterpoint, and to the peculiarities of the various instruments."

"All this fires my soul, and provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance."

"Nor do I hear in my imagination the parts successively, but I hear them.....all at once. What a delight I cannot tell! All this inventing, this producing, takes place in a pleasing lively dream."

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RUDYARD KIPLING
Many people who experience supernormal moments of great creativity report a willingness to let themselves be open to the non-logical, non-linear, and unexplainable promptings of an inner voice.

Maybe you call it a "hunch" or "intuition," but whatever you call it, know that paying attention to it is often the key to manifesting your vision or idea.

Rudyard Kipling, the English writer, was very much in touch with this faculty.

"Most men," wrote Kipling, "keep their personal Daemon (guardian spirit) under an alias which varies with their literary or scientific attainments."

"Mine came to me early when I sat bewildered among other notions. 'Take me and no other,' it said. I obeyed and was rewarded. After that, I learned to lean upon him and recognize the sign of his approach. If ever I held back anything of myself (even though I had to throw it out afterwards), I paid for it by missing what I knew the tale lacked."

"I took good care to walk delicately, lest my Daemon should withdraw. I know that he did not, because when my books were finished they said so themselves with almost the water-hammer click of a tap turned off. 'Note here.'"

"When your Daemon is in charge, do not try to think consciously. Drift, wait, and obey."

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AUGUST KEKULE
It is not only writers and composers that have creative breakthroughs. Molecular scientists do, too.

Notes the Flemish scientist, Kekule, "One fine evening I was returning by the last bus through the deserted streets of the metropolis, which are at other times so full of life."

"I fell into a reverie, and lo! the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. Whenever those diminutive beings had appeared to me before, they had always been in motion, but I had never been able to discern the nature of their motion."

"Now, however, I saw how frequently, how smaller atoms united to form a pair; how a larger one embraced two smaller ones; how still larger ones kept hold of three or even four of the smaller, while the whole kept whirring in a giddy dance."

"I saw how the larger ones formed a chain. I spent part of the night putting on paper at least a sketch of these dream forms."

Then, years later, the big illumination made it's appearance.

"I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by repeated visions of this kind, could now distinguish larger structures....long rows, sometimes more closely fitted together; all twining and twisting and snakelike motion."

"But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes! As if by a flash of lightening I awoke. Let us learn to dream, gentlemen."

Kekule had made a most remarkable discovery -- that benzene is a cyclic or ring structure and the carbon chain at the molecular core of the compound does indeed form a chain that "swallows its own tail".

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TCHAIKOVSKY
OK, all you aspiring creators, how about a tip from the man who composed the Nutcracker Suite?

"Generally, the germ of a future composition comes suddenly and unexpectedly. It takes root with extraordinary force and rapidity, shoots up through the earth, puts forth branches and leaves, and finally blossoms."

"I forget everything and behave like a mad man. Everything within me starts pulsing and quivering. Hardly have I begun the sketch, before one thought follows another."

"In the midst of this magic process, it frequently happens that some external interruption awakes me from my somnabulistic state. Dreadful indeed are such interruptions. They break the thread of the inspiration."

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I realize there are no stories, in this article, about women with BIG AHA moments. The "literature" is fairly lame in this regard. Most of the anecdotes are about men. I'd like this article to be better balanced. Do you have any examples YOU can share with me -- and I will edit this posting accordingly. (Thanks to Doug Sundheim for pointing this out).

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:08 PM | Comments (0)

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