"An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage," International Association for the Study of Pain
I've been blessed with good health throughout my life, not to mention good luck. Nineteen years ago a motorcycle accident that should have mangled me resulted in nothing worse than a broken arm. A few years after that I avoided what would have been a useless lower back surgery when I realized that the increasing pain I'd been experiencing was stress-related, and a modest effort at managing my stress ended my lower back pain permanently.
But the last six weeks have been different.
I've frequently been in pain since mid-January, when I experienced what felt like a severe muscle spasm in my upper back. I've occasionally had minor spasms in my upper back over the years, typically after working out too hard, but they would always disappear after a few days of rest. This time, however, the pain didn't go away, and I developed some new (and scary) symptoms, including a sore neck, pain radiating down my right arm, tingling and numbness in my right hand and fingertips, and significant weakness on my right side.
Thankfully, when I'm highly focused--most notably in a coaching session--I lose awareness of the pain, so it hasn't prevented me from fulfilling my responsibilities to my clients and students. But it's certainly affected the rest of my life, and I feel a lot less joyful and more somber than I usually do. After taking it easy for a few weeks, my condition improved a bit but eventually plateaued, and I finally realized I needed to see a doctor.
The definition of pain above was quoted to me last week by (the fantastic) Dr. Judy Silverman of St. Mary's, who diagnosed me with a herniated disk adjacent to my C-7 vertebra, which has apparently damaged the nerves running from my spinal column to my right arm and hand, resulting in the pain, tingling and numbness. The pain improved somewhat after the initial trauma to the nerves, but it didn't go away--and the other symptoms worsened--presumably because some specific movements and body positions continued to irritate the affected nerves. Dr. Silverman and I agreed that surgery and pain medication weren't warranted, and she's referred me to physical therapy, which begins this week.
So what have I learned so far? Four thoughts come to mind:
1) I can be still--at least for a while.
In March 2009 I had perhaps the worst cold ever, and as a result I realized that, "I don't do stillness well...and perhaps I should find a way." I was sufficiently rattled by that experience that I knew I needed to make some changes, and I did. After years of half-hearted efforts, I finally got serious about meditation, and today I have a capacity for stillness--both the voluntary stillness of meditation and the enforced stillness that this injury is imposing on me--that I never had before. I continue to struggle with stillness, but at least I'm more comfortable with it than I used to be.
2) I'm better prepared for old age.
Another result of that terrible cold in 2009 was the realization that, "I'm less ready for old age--and mortality--than I thought I was." And while I'm still enjoying this existence a great deal, over the last four years I've devoted a lot of thought to death and the meaning of life, to being present and to the shortness of life, and as a result I feel much more in touch with my mortality and the impending indignities of old age than I was just four years ago.
3) I need to find (yet) another gear.
I'm someone who's always thrived on pushing myself. That's not to say I'm a joyless worker-bee--far from it. I love to work hard (at work that I love), and I love to play hard, too. My illness in 2009 taught me that I needed to learn how to be still, and I did. But two gears isn't enough, at least at this stage of my life. I'm reasonably sure that my herniated disk was the result of both A) working out harder than usual in December and early January and B) just plain working harder than usual over that same span, spending even more time writing after signing a book contract. I'll keep pushing myself, but now I need to find a third gear somewhere between Go Hard and Be Still that'll allow me to advance at a sustainable pace.
4) I'm learning the definition of pain.
The word "definition" itself has multiple meanings. It means, of course "the formal statement of the meaning or significance of a word"--as in the definition of pain quoted above--but it also means "the condition of being distinct or clearly outlined," and that's the meaning I refer to now. My wife Amy has suffered from chronic pain in her shoulder for the last four years which two difficult surgeries failed to fully resolve, and which she now manages on a day-to-day basis. My experience over the last six weeks has made it clear how little I truly understood what she's been dealing with, even as I tried to be an empathetic caregiver. As Dr. Silverman noted, I'm still in the acute phase of post-traumatic pain--it hasn't become chronic and hopefully won't. But six weeks has been long enough for me to get a sense of what it means to live with pain and to have to accept the limits that are defined by the energy and the space that the pain consumes. I'm hopeful that my PT will substantially diminish my pain, but I also hope I never forget what it's been like to have pain be such a defining feature of my life.
Photo by Harsha K R. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons
"I have plenty of time--I'll get it done this weekend!"
"Dammit, it's way too nice out to stay inside and work--I'm outta here!"
"I'll get started as soon as I clean the house. How can I write surrounded by all this clutter?"
"Why did I ever say yes to this project? I'm an idiot."
(Sighs, sits down and opens laptop.)
Photo by Thomas Abbs. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.
"We come from the stars; we're not made of microchips." -Erica Peng
We all require some degree of what I'll call romance in our lives. I'm not necessarily referring to romantic love for another person, although some relationships certainly qualify. I'm talking more broadly about any passionate yearning for someone, someplace, something, some way of being that fulfills us in a way that's hard to understand, let alone explain to others. Some romances may be logical on a certain level, but ultimately they are their own justification.
But as uniquely fulfilling as romance can be, it's also insufficient. We have to balance the romantic with its converse, the practical. Because romances justify themselves, they can consume vast amounts of resources as we pursue them, but practical things must meet a different standard. They must be justified by the returns they generate in exchange for our investment of resources (e.g. time, money, effort, attention). And as in any healthy market, these exchanges are a sign of value creation on both sides, and, at their best, a source of meaning and purpose.
When our lives are too airily romantic, we may be free to choose our path, but we lose traction and fail to make any actual progress. But when our lives are too stolidly practical, we carve out ruts that become impossible to escape, and although we're making steady progress we can't change course even when we're headed in the wrong direction.
There's no balance that's right for everyone; we all have to find our own level. But it's important to be aware of the internal and external forces in our lives--formative experiences, mental models of what's desirable or necessary, obligations and commitments (both real and imagined)--that might pull us away from our optimal balance in one direction or another.
My dad likes to joke that I've "tacked my way through life," and (although I can't stand being in a boat) it's an apt metaphor. I've pursued some major romances--leaving college to go to art school, following a girl to New England, packing three careers into 16 years, and eventually leaving management to launch a coaching practice. And at alternate intervals I've made some very practical decisions--leaving art school to go back to college, going into management to gain hands-on experience, getting an MBA, and returning to Stanford to join the business school's coaching staff. (I also married the girl, which was both romantic and practical.)
I haven't taken any daunting leaps in a while, and I certainly don't feel that I'm in a rut, so it's possible that in my 40s I've found my optimal balance. (Not that I've been in a hurry--as Seneca wrote, "It takes the whole of life to learn how to live.") I know I'm unusually privileged in that my work as a coach is both a romantic passion--a true vocation, a life's work, not a job--and a practical profession that pays the bills. But I don't take anything in the present for granted, because we all continue to change even when we think we're done.
For now, I'm just going to enjoy this feeling of practical romance.
Update: That last line strikes me as too pat. I am privileged to enjoy a certain balance in my work as a coach--it fulfills my romantic desires to make a difference in the world, to connect with people and to feel a sense of meaning and purpose, while also meeting my primary practical needs. And yet I don't feel quite at peace, either. I'm restless by nature--I tend to "repot" myself every seven years, and it's not lost on me that I'm in my seventh year back at Stanford. I know I'm not in a rut--at least not the sort of rut that's prompted me to take those major leaps noted above--because coaching does feel like my life's work. It occurs to me that I don't want anything different--and in that sense I have found the right balance between the practical and the romantic--but I do want more. Of what, I'm in the process of discovering.
The coach in me can't help but ask: Where are you in all this? What are your romantic yearnings? How are you fulfilling them? How are you neglecting them? What are your practical needs? And how are you fulfilling (or neglecting) them? How does the current balance between the two feel? If you could change something, what would it be? What's holding you back?
Thanks to my friend and colleague Erica Peng for the conversation that led to this post.
Photo by Bill Mill. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.
I'm not well-read in the classics, but a few pieces have been important sources of meaning to me over the years--most notably Marcus Aurelius's Meditations. There are a number of concepts in Stoic philosophy that I find relevant in my work as a coach--and in my personal life: acceptance of limitations and failure, resilience in overcoming challenges, humility in success.
In my ramblings I've come across a number of references to Seneca's essay, On the Shortness of Life, and the other day I decided to finally look it up and read the whole thing.
Damn--talk about a wake-up call. It really stirred me up, and while it's too early to say just what impact it'll have on my life, it's safe to say I'll be re-reading it. A few of the passages I found most striking are below, and you can find the complete text at the Forum Romanum. (Also, here's a longer series of excerpts [PDF].)
“On the Shortness of Life,” Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Translated by John W. Basore, Loeb Classical Library, London: William Heinemann, 19321. The majority of mortals, Paulinus, complain bitterly of the spitefulness of Nature, because we are born for a brief span of life, because even this space that has been granted to us rushes by so speedily and so swiftly that all save a very few find life at an end just when they are getting ready to live... It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is—the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but are wasteful of it...
3. ...No one is to be found who is willing to distribute his money, yet among how many does each one of us distribute his life! In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal... What, then, is the reason of this? You live as if you were destined to live forever, no thought of your frailty ever enters your head, of how much time has already gone by you take no heed. You squander time as if you drew from a full and abundant supply, though all the while that day which you bestow on some person or thing is perhaps your last... You will hear many men saying: "After my fiftieth year I shall retire into leisure, my sixtieth year shall release me from public duties." And what guarantee, pray, have you that your life will last longer? Who will suffer your course to be just as you plan it? Are you not ashamed to reserve for yourself only the remnant of life, and to set apart for wisdom only that time which cannot be devoted to any business? How late it is to begin to live just when we must cease to live! What foolish forgetfulness of mortality to postpone wholesome plans to the fiftieth and sixtieth year, and to intend to begin life at a point to which few have attained!...
7. ...[E]verybody agrees that no one pursuit can be successfully followed by a man who is busied with many things...since the mind, when its interests are divided, takes in nothing very deeply, but rejects everything that is, as it were, crammed into it. There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living: there is nothing that is harder to learn... It takes the whole of life to learn how to live, and—what will perhaps make you wonder more—it takes the whole of life to learn how to die...
8. I am often filled with wonder when I see some men demanding the time of others and those from whom they ask it most indulgent. Both of them fix their eyes on the object of the request for time, neither of them on the time itself; just as if what is asked were nothing, what is given, nothing. Men trifle with the most precious thing in the world; but they are blind to it because it is an incorporeal thing, because it does not come beneath the sight of the eyes, and for this reason it is counted a very cheap thing—nay, of almost no value at all...
9. Can anything be sillier than the point of view of...those who
boast of their foresight? They keep themselves very busily engaged in order
that they may be able to live better; they spend life in making ready to live!
They form their purposes with a view to the distant future; yet postponement is
the greatest waste of life; it deprives them of each day as it comes, it
snatches from them the present by promising something hereafter. The greatest
hindrance to living is expectancy, which depends upon the morrow and wastes today…
All things that are still to come lie in uncertainty; live straightaway!...
20. And so when you see a man often wearing the robe of office, when you see one whose name is famous in the Forum, do not envy him; those things are bought at the price of life. They will waste all their years, in order that they may have one year reckoned by their name... Meantime, while they rob and are being robbed, while they break up each other's repose, while they make each other wretched, their life is without profit, without pleasure, without any improvement of the mind. No one keeps death in view, no one refrains from far-reaching hopes; some men, indeed, even arrange for things that lie beyond life—huge masses of tombs and dedications of public works and...ostentatious funerals. But, in very truth, the funerals of such men ought to be conducted by the light of torches and wax tapers, as though they had lived but the tiniest span.
 When this essay was written—around A.D. 49—Paulinus was praefectus annonae, the official who managed Rome’s grain supply, and an important civic figure. He is believed to have been a close relative of Seneca's wife.
 The Roman year was dated by the names of the two annual consuls.
 i.e., as if they were children, whose funerals took place by night
Photo by kris krüg. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.
I was recently asked to help a team prepare to tackle some challenging work more effectively. I was motivated to say yes for professional and personal reasons, but I didn't fully think through the necessary conditions for success, and I made some critical errors in planning and delivery. In a word, I failed.
It wasn't a complete failure--I'm confident that some learning occurred--but I certainly failed to live up to my own standards for success. I've reflected on what I could have done differently, and I've learned a lot--but perhaps the most valuable thing I've learned is the extent to which I've developed a growth mindset. As Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck notes,
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They're wrong.
In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work--brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.
The relevance here is that I'm not interpreting this failure as a character flaw or a fundamental inability to do good work. I'm fully aware that I take on projects like this all the time, and most of them turn out quite successfully. This isn't to say that I'm ducking responsibility for my failure or ignoring it in any way. I'm very clear about the mistakes I made and what I'll do differently going forward.
I'm reminded that in 2011 Jonah Lehrer reviewed a study by Michigan State's Jason Moser that applied Dweck's concept of mindset while assessing the neurological processes involved in learning from mistakes:
It turned out that those subjects with a growth mindset were significantly better at learning from their mistakes... Most interesting, though, was the EEG data, which demonstrated that those with a growth mindset generated a much larger [error positivity] signal, indicating increased attention to their mistakes… What’s more, this increased...signal was nicely correlated with improvement after error, implying that the extra awareness was paying dividends in performance. Because the subjects were thinking about what they got wrong, they learned how to get it right...
Moser's study suggests that a growth mindset allows us to pay more attention to our mistakes because we're less upset when confronted with the evidence of those mistakes, which allows us to study them more closely and learn more as a result. In the case of my own recent experience, the outcome is that I'm able to calmly assess my failure, learn from it and move on. I'm disappointed, to be sure, but I'm not upset about it in a way that might have negatively affected other projects or aspects of my life.
By no means am I suggesting that I've mastered this process--it doesn't take much work to envision a failure that would be extremely upsetting. But at the same time it's worth noting that the work I've done over the years has resulted in a greater sense of resilience and an increased capacity to face up to--and learn from--my failures.
Photo by Mikel Ortega. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.
As I wrote last month, decades of studies have shown that goals are useful spurs to action, but recent research also shows that goals can have unintended consequences, such as diminishing the fulfillment we derive from an activity. My solution to this paradox is "to think of a goal as a powerful tow rope--it can jumpstart a stalled effort and give me a boost, but it can also drag me off course or even out of control. So it's essential to hold on to it lightly and let go of it readily."
Some of my most important goals involve daily activities: Each day I aspire to 1) wake up well-rested from a good night's sleep, 2) get some exercise, 3) meditate, 4) develop myself as a coach through some form of study or practice, and 5) do a little writing, typically on a coaching-related topic.
I've been tracking whether or not I fulfilled these daily goals since May 2011 (except exercise, which I've tracked since March 2008, and writing, which I added last June), so the end of 2012 is an interesting opportunity to see how I've done over the past year. But before I jump to the data, I want to note my appreciation for critics of tracking like Zen Habits' Leo Babauta, who wrote in November...
When you track a metric, such as hours or dollars or miles, you are saying that’s more important than all the things that can’t be measured. You put that in the forefront of your head as the thing that must be improved, at the cost of all else. What about relationships and joy? Are those less important?
Then there are other problems with tracking and measuring everything:
I agree with Babauta's fundamental perspective--we need to spend our lives being fulfilled by doing what we love, and chasing numbers is a recipe for perpetual dissatisfaction, not fulfillment. But his rejection of tracking is similar to his rejection of goals, and it evokes a similar response from me: Any data derived from tracking our activities should inform our choices, not dictate them, and we should hold onto it lightly and let go of it readily, just as we would a goal that's become counter-productive.
The pursuit of my goals noted above is its own reward, and I don't make choices to "improve" the numbers related to those goals. When I don't achieve these goals in a given day, or when the numbers dip over a period of time, rather than feel bad about my "failure," I get curious about the choices I've been making. Perhaps I needed to prioritize other activities, and those choices were the right ones.
But I'm also well aware of the tendency for things that are "urgent but not important" to consume time and attention, often pushing things are are "important but not urgent" off my calendar. My dawning awareness of this dynamic is one of the factors that got me started tracking my daily exercise in the first place.
So while I'm grateful to Babauta and others for helping me to clarify how I want to use this data--and how I don't want to use it--I still find the process of tracking valuable. With that said, how'd 2012 go?
I got a good night's sleep 60% of the time, and I feel great about that simply because I've known for years that my sleep hygiene was poor but never did anything about it. Tracking provides me with just enough motivation to pay attention to--and actually honor--my need for sleep.
I exercised 87% of the time, up from 81% in 2011. And I'm very happy about that--not because I'm driven to "improve," but because I love to exercise, and these figures represent an ongoing commitment to take care of myself in the midst of a very demanding schedule.
I meditated 67% of the time, and I'm ambivalent about that figure. It was just 45% for the last six months of 2011, so from one perspective there's "progress"--but a closer look shows surprising variation on a quarterly basis: 59% in Q1, 85% in Q2, 74% in Q3 and just 51% in Q4. Why such a steep decline when I do find the practice rewarding? Why am I meditating less while exercising more? Curious--and something to think about in 2013.
I worked on my professional development 65% of the time, and I feel just fine about that. It's easy to get sucked into the immediate demands of my work as a coach--primarily because I love what I do--but tracking this metric reminds me of the importance of stepping back from day-to-day responsibilities to stretch myself in other ways.
I started tracking daily writing just last summer, and I wrote 25% of the time during the last 7 months--but that ranged from 90% in June to 0% in September and October. That variation reflects my demanding Fall Quarter schedule at Stanford, and while I write better when I take time off during the year, being dormant for several months was too long, and next year I'll look for ways to keep some momentum going during my busy period.
Photo by David Boté Estrada. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.
Much of my work as an executive coach and with my MBA students at Stanford involves helping people grapple with the belief that their life should be different in some way because it fails to conform to a set of expectations--their own or those of other people--or that they should (or shouldn't) pursue a particular course of action because it's demanded (or forbidden) by some preconceived narrative that they're supposed to follow.
These mental models are hard to overcome even when they're outdated and counterproductive, as I'm all too aware from my doing battle with my own. For example, when I stepped into my first leadership role after business school I still thought leaders succeeded by having the best ideas and seeing them prevail, which led me into a series of unhelpful conflicts with my board of directors. (I became much more effective after Vince Stehle, a member of my board, encouraged me to invest in myself and begin working with an executive coach--some great advice that had far-reaching implications.)
Our mental models aren't restricted to our professional lives, of course--I have a set of tenacious ones associated with Christmas. I don't have a overly fraught relationship with the holiday--I'm not religious, but I appreciate the seasonal encouragement to be more charitable and open-hearted, and I'm not particularly materialistic, but I like to give Amy some nice jewelry and get a few bottles of good liquor. I have plenty of nice Christmas memories from childhood, and I enjoy the handful of traditions that have survived into my adulthood--putting up a tree, baking kugel (yes, I know it's Jewish--it's a long story.)
But at the same time Christmas can stir up a number of unhappy feelings in me, typically related to a desire for things to be "perfect" in some way and the disappointment when they inevitably fall short. Most of the year I find my actual life very fulfilling--but at Christmas I can find myself ruminating over alternative versions in which I have closer relationships with my family, or a richer social network, or...something. I've spent plenty of time working on letting go of my perfectionism, and while there's room for improvement, most of the year I feel good about the progress I've made--but at Christmas I can get easily frustrated when something doesn't live up to my expectations or go according to plan.
That started to happen to me this past weekend. I had procrastinated and was unable to get a gift to my family back East in time for the holiday. I fell into a funk and spent Saturday afternoon feeling pissed off and sorry for myself. Then Amy said something that stuck with me: "What are you always saying to people? Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good, right?"
I realized that I was letting my mental models about Christmas and perfection bite me in the ass, and it was time to bite back. As I wrote last summer...
Perfection is worse than boring; it's stagnation. Perfection rarely motivates, and it often demotivates. It keeps us from accepting "good enough" and making it better. Coaching is about rejecting ideal visions of the perfect--the perfect day, the perfect job, the perfect life, the perfect self--and seeing "the perfect" for what it really is: the enemy of the good.
So what did it mean to bite back? I thought about what I'd do on an ordinary Sunday at any other time of year. I went to the gym and had a great workout. I came home and cooked Catalan stew with picada (although I use pork shoulder instead of short ribs). I put on Sean Hayes, Alabama Shakes and Elmore James. I tried a new cocktail, the Triborough, from Jim Meehan and Chris Gall's extraordinary book. And I had an amazing dinner with Amy. In short, I enjoyed all the gifts that surround me every day of the year--at least right now: great health, great music, great food and drink, a great partner to share it all with.
I'll wake up tomorrow and will be glad it's Christmas--the seasonal spirit, the gifts, the traditions all have value and meaning to me. But I'm not worrying about whether this particular holiday turns out to be some idealized form of "CHRISTMAS!!!", and I'm newly attuned to how that unreal vision influences my perspective on life in general. Our mental models have teeth, but I'm biting back.
Photo by Andres Rodriguez. Yay Flickr and Creative Commons.
Management is what tradition used to call a liberal art: ‘liberal’ because it deals with the fundamentals of knowledge, self-knowledge, wisdom, and leadership; ‘art’ because it deals with practice and application. Managers draw upon all of the knowledge and insights of the humanities and social sciences on psychology and philosophy, on economics and history, on the physical sciences and ethics. But they have to focus this knowledge on effectiveness and results.
Tom Peters (who I respect a great deal) and I have been arguing on Twitter about the extent to which what we're doing today at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) lives up to that ideal. Drucker may have had profound doubts about management education--as I've noted before, Peters once read an interview with Drucker in the Australian Institute of Management's journal in which the latter was quoted as saying, "The purpose of professional schools is to educate competent mediocrities." So my purpose here isn't to defend all B-schools against that charge but merely to consider whether the GSB's curriculum rises to Drucker's standard of a "liberal art."
We can debate the relevance of certain components of the GSB's curriculum, but let's stipulate that the school satisfies Drucker's "knowledge" criteria. How are we doing on self-knowledge, leadership and wisdom?
Self-Knowledge: The GSB's most popular elective is our Interpersonal Dynamics course, aka Touchy Feely, which we teach to 360 students every year. (There are fewer than 400 students in each graduating class at the GSB.) I took the course as a student in 1999 and have facilitated groups in the course 10 times since 2007. The course's primary focus is learning how to interact with others more effectively, a process that involves an extensive amount of personal reflection and heightened self-awareness, and there are many other courses at the GSB that push our students to understand themselves better.
Leadership: Every incoming class at the GSB takes our Leadership Labs course in their first academic quarter. I was involved in helping to launch the Labs in 2007 and have been closely involved with their planning and delivery for the past six years. The course involves putting students through a series of small-group exercises in which they share rotating leadership of the group experience, under the guidance of a trained second-year student, one of 66 select Leadership Fellows. There's an extensive list of elective courses in which students can study leadership in greater depth, of course, but right from the start the GSB emphasizes that leadership matters, that leaders are made--not born, and, in the spirit of Bill George, we learn about leadership by learning about ourselves.
Wisdom: So how do we help students transform the building blocks of raw knowledge into meaningful wisdom? Perhaps most effectively by getting out of their way. The GSB gives students a great deal of freedom to experiment and chart their own path. After fulfilling the core curriculum requirements in the first year, students are free to select the courses that matter most to them, and more than half of courses taken by every student are electives. Students at the GSB don't select a major in a specific field of management; once they're finished with the core, they simply pursue their interests. We can debate the merits of having a core curriculum at all, but my sense is that we provide more flexibility than most MBA programs. And as I've written before, B-school will help you get from Point B to Point Z, but finding Point A is up to you.
Is there more the GSB can do in every one of these areas? Yes, of course.
Could the GSB learn from innovative programs like Stanford's own Institute of Design, aka the d.school? Without a doubt.
Do I have serious criticisms of the GSB as an alumnus and as a staff member? No question.
But when Peters says it's "laughable" to call the GSB's approach to management education a liberal art, I take that as a personal challenge. You won't find an executive coach or experiential educator who's more dedicated to Drucker's conception of management or to the value of the liberal arts in general. (Hopefully two years in art school and a history degree from Brown give me some credibility on the subject.) I deeply want the GSB to live up to that standard, I truly believe that it can, and as long as I'm a Leadership Coach there I'll do everything in my ability to support that goal.
Photo courtesy of Alliance Roofing.
Amy and I spent last week up in Point Reyes, the first stop on our Summer 2012 tour. One day we had Shell Beach all to ourselves until--surprise!--it was invaded by tween campers, who were ferried via powerboat to a raft floating offshore, and then told to jump in and tread water while they told jokes to their counselor (!) before they were allowed to swim ashore, like a horde of pimply SEALs. After the third wave hit the beach, we surrendered.
We hiked out to Drake's Head, only the second time we've taken that route to the end. Insanely beautiful, and the half-hour we spent at the top of the cliff was perfect.
(The black dots below are cows, by the way.)
Most of the Estero Trail runs through open country. On top of one hill there's a single gnarled tree, the Lone Eucalyptus.
The return hike was windy as hell, and the dust drove me nuts. Back at the cottage I shaved my 3-month-old beard, to Amy's dismay. Before and after.
On our last full day we hiked out Bolinas Ridge for the first time. I have no idea why it took us this long. (More cows!)
Once again, thank you, Phil Burton.