I’ve mentioned before how much I have learned from the book Leadership is an Art by Max DePree. Events in my life are leading me back to reference this work. I want to share some thoughts from this book, beginning with DePree’s writings on intimacy and work. The former CEO and Chairman of Herman Miller, Inc. begins his chapter on the subject by saying, “Intimacy is at the heart of competence. It has to do with understanding, with believing, and with practice. It has to do with the relationship to one’s work…intimacy with one’s work leads to solid competence.”
Intimacy—in DePree’s view—is the “experience of ownership.” One arrives at intimacy with one’s work out of “difficulty or questions or exasperation, or even survival.” And this intimacy “affects our accountability and results in personal authenticity in the work process. A key component of intimacy is passion.” Working through difficult situations to reach a sense of ownership of one’s work—and life—is something to which we can all relate.
“Superficiality in a special way is an enemy of intimacy. When one thinks carefully about why certain people who are competent, well educated, energetic, and well supported with good tools fail, it is often the red thread of superficiality that does them in. They never get seriously and accountably involved in their own work.”
DePree also focuses on ambiguity and change. He notes that “We find intimacy through a search for comfort with ambiguity. We do not grow by knowing all of the answers, but rather by living with the questions.” I love that idea of being comfortable with ambiguity and growing through our living with the questions. This is important because “Three of the key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential.”
Let’s think about how we can ask the questions and search for the answers together. Have a good week.
More to come…