Classic:  What is success?  Do You Have the Will to Lead and Answer the Toughest Questions? - Peter Koestenbaum | Coaching Leaders | Scoop.it

Philosopher Peter Koestenbaum poses the truly big questions: How do we act when risks seem overwhelming? What does it mean to be a successful human being?

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How can we muster the guts to burn our bridges and to create a condition of no return?

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{Have you asked yourself:]  How in the world did I get here? Or wrestled with ...strategic choices -- all of which seem hard and unpleasant -- and said, What happened to the fun part of being in business? According to Peter Koestenbaum, those uncomfortable questions -- those existential quandaries -- are at the root of issues that great leaders deal with all the time, and they influence every decision that must be made.
  
More than 25 years ago, Koestenbaum traded the cloistered halls of academia for the front lines of the global economy. It's not unheard-of for this philosopher, a tireless 71-year-old with thick glasses and a flowing beard, to visit clients across three continents in a single week. His agenda: to apply the power of philosophy to the big question of the day -- how to reconcile the often-brutal realities of business with basic human values -- and to create a new language of effective leadership. ...The more you understand the human condition, the more effective you are as a businessperson. Human depth makes business sense."

     

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Change -- true, lasting, deep-seated change -- is the business world's biggest and most persistent challenge. 

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Koestenbaum's wisdom makes sense to leaders at such giant organizations as Ford, EDS, Citibank, Xerox, Ericsson, and even one of Korea's chaebols. ... At Ford, Koestenbaum contributed to the company's 2,000-person Senior Executive Program throughout the 1980s. In more than a decade at EDS, he led seminars and coached hundreds of top executives, including then-chairman Les Alberthal. 

 

"Everything I do," says Koestenbaum, "is about using themes from the history of thought to rescue people who are stuck." His logic: Change -- true, lasting, deep-seated change -- is the business world's biggest and most persistent challenge. But too many people and too many companies approach change by treating it as a technical challenge rather than by developing authentic answers to basic questions about business life. 


WHY DOES BEING A LEADER FEEL SO HARD TODAY?

Because reckoning with freedom is always hard ...We're living in a peculiar time: It's marked by a soaring stock market, the creation of tremendous wealth, an explosion in innovation, and the acute alienation that occurs when the global economy hits the average individual. 

The message is, You're living in the best country in the world at the best time in history; you have an amazing degree of freedom to do what you want, along with an unprecedented opportunity to build immense wealth and success -- and to do it more quickly than ever before. Of course, the average individual has as much of a chance of launching a skyrocketing IPO as he or she has of becoming a movie star. 

       
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There's a terrible defect at the core of how we think about people and organizations today. ...There is little or no tolerance for the kinds of character-building conversations that pave the way for meaningful change.
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What's even more disturbing is that the ascendancy of shareholder value as the dominant driving force in business has resulted in a terrible insensitivity to basic human values. 

THAT'S A HEAVY BURDEN TO PLACE ON LEADERS. THEY MUST NOT ONLY GUIDE ORGANIZATIONS BUT ALSO WRESTLE WITH BASIC PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTIONS.

 

There's a terrible defect at the core of how we think about people and organizations today. There is little or no tolerance for the kinds of character-building conversations that pave the way for meaningful change. The average person is...riveted by the objective domain...where our metrics are; that's where we look for solutions. ...That's why books and magazines that have numbers in their titles sell so well.

 

We'll do anything to avoid facing the basic, underlying questions: How do we make truly difficult choices? How do we act when the risks seem overwhelming? How can we muster the guts to burn our bridges and to create a condition of no return?

     

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...Managing polarity teaches us that there are no solutions -- there are only changes of attitude. 
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There's nothing wrong with all of those technical solutions. They're excellent; they're creative; they're even necessary. But they shield us from the real issues: What kind of life do I want to lead? What is my destiny? How much evil am I willing to tolerate?

      

...Managing polarity teaches us that there are no solutions -- there are only changes of attitude. When you grapple with polarities in your life, you lose your arrogant, self-indulgent illusions, and you realize that the joke is on you. To get that message makes you a more credible human being -- instantly. 

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Via Deb Nystrom, REVELN, Mark E. Deschaine Ph.D.