Leadership: What Do You Plan to Do With Your One Wild and Precious Life?

You may have noticed that the name of The Customer Blog has changed to the Customer+Leadership Blog. It occurs to me that the central issue of our times is leadership: our willingness to lead ourselves and others in shaping our lives and our organisations to pursue noble purpose. The kind of purpose that generates joy within us and creates joy in the world. The kind purpose that gives our lives meaning. The kind of purpose that gives our organisations meaning and generates loyalty – from all stakeholders. Let’s start with a powerful poem, one that asks the most important question.

The Summer Day: Mary Oliver asks a great question

I cannot think of a more apt poem to go along with and complement the profound insight shared by Steve Jobs, then this poem – The Summer Day – by Mary Oliver. And I share it with you. If you enjoy listening to poetry then I urge you to listen to her reciting her poem?

And here is the poem itself (the bolding is my work):

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean– the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Steve Jobs: the secret of life

If you are tempted not to be with the question that Mary’ poses because it occurs to you that you are small, that you cannot affect-influence-shape the world as it is, then I share this video with you and urge you to watch it.

Here is the transcript:

When you grow up, you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

And the minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.

I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

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