create dangerously

To create dangerously one must be willing to venture into the darkness. I wrote about being creative some time ago and if you want you can read those posts here. Yet Greenleaf highlights the need for creating dangerously clearly and with urgency. Remember this book was first published in 1977 – yet it is still extrememly relevant for today’s emerging leaders.

In this current leadership context there seems to be no shortage of ‘guru’s’ offering their perspective and their ‘top ten lists’ for just about anything leadership related.

I can’t speak for anyone else but sometimes I feel like I have to do a giant shake off of all the articles, posts, guides, how-to’s, and keys to the craft of leading.

This first chapter of Greenleaf’s book was constructed with short essays hitting a number of topics related to servant-style leadership and the new emerging world it would find itself within.

I can usually tell when a book is going to be a good one for me to read by the number of highlights, margin notes, and coffee stains on the first few pages. Servant Leadership (SL) will not disappoint.

Some Quotes I’ll be thinking about this week:

awareness is not a giver of solace – it is just the opposite. It is a disturber and an awakener – pg 41

an attitude of withdrawal allows creative insight to happen – pg 42

where community doesn’t exist – trust, respect, and ethical behavior are difficult to learn and maintain – pg 52

The trouble with coercive power is that it only strengthens resistance. And , if successful, its controlling effect lasts only as long as the force is strong. It is not organic. Only persuasion and the consequent voluntary acceptance are organic. – pp 55-56

if a flaw in the world is to be remedied, to the servant the process of change starts in here, in the servant, not out there. – pg 57 

preparation to lead need not be at the expense of vocational or scholarly preparation, but it must be the first priority – pg 60

How do I break a Chapter Down?

Not that this way is the only way to deconstruct a chapter – quite the opposite! Yet I have found that this approach has worked well for not only taking notes but also in aiding the memory.

I like to try and keep it simple (if there is an easier way please let me know) and some if not most of my content is bullet points. So, this is how these posts will be structured;

Key Points


Lesson Points / Challenges

So, here we go…

Key Points to Create Dangerously

  • There are several tools to sharpen for the SL – listening, understanding, language, acceptance, empathy, and foresight.
  • The subtle art of persuasion can be a powerful tool – not to be used for evil (getting others to do things because you love power) but rather for the benefit of those we lead.
  • Never really thought about leadership as a means of self-healing. There is deep and lasting meaning in finding inner healing by serving others – it has a way of breaking down personal walls.
  • First look to fix the problem inside me before tackling the problem external to me.

Principles to Create Dangerously

  1. The litmus test of anyone’s leadership is how they as a leader have impacted others to grow and develop. Especially to those whom society may have discarded.
  2. To lead effectively the SL must cultivate awareness – both of self and of others. This speaks to the need for cultivating EQ.
  3. Finding and securing the right mentor is crucial to leadership success. No one has ever led within a vacuum.
  4. Knowing who I am, standing in that truth, then moving towards the goal one-action-at-a-time is not without frustration. Yet the rewards are well worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears.

Lesson Points / Challenges for Creating Dangerously

  • Challenge – finding balance between being the servant and the leader. I may have some kind of understanding of what it takes but part of the journey is educating those around me about the dichotomy.
  • Challenge – communicating that I will always accept the person without necessarily accepting their attitude or actions.
  • Lesson Point – SL live in two worlds – one is connected and value orientated. The second is one that is detached by living above the circumstance to gain a broader perspective.

This chapter ends with a sobering and important question.

Are enough able people now preparing themselves for these roles (SL) so that change can be made?

Leadership does not happen by osmosis or through on-line gaming. It takes preparation and execution. One thing I have learned in my years as a tradesperson is that I can have all the best tools and technology to help get the work done but those tools still need me to use them.

Growing in empathy, EQ, and active listening is awesome. But if I never venture out and begin to create a new environment where I can actually use these tools – then my learning is at best Ivory Tower. At worst, expensive wastes of time.

Allow me to end with a quote

One may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace for the artist that what [they] find in the heat of combat…As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever threatening truth that each and every [person], on the foundations of [their] own sufferings and joys, builds for them all.