With one exception, I have consistently avoided the blogosphere throughout my career. In that one case, The Leading Edge was an attempt to repay a favor. I found the experience stressful. Once-a-month submissions are hardly onerous, but because writing is for me a painstaking process, I abandoned the effort in less than a year. Besides, I’d never been convinced that anyone reads someone else’s blog; and besides that (are you allowed to have two “besides” in one sentence?), who really cares what I think? No seriously. No false modesty here. Who cares what I think about leadership, politics, or the state of the world? After all, the airwaves and information highways are already occluded with “punditrivia” of various sorts, and I’ve never been sure I wanted to compete in that world. Moreover, because I spend a good deal of my waking hours teaching and writing about the role and place of humility in leadership, a regular foray into the self-referential world of weblogs always posed a bit of an ethical conundrum for me.
So, given all of this, why Growing Leaders, and why now? To begin with, I need to write. I don’t mean I need to write like I need food and water to live. I mean I need to work on my writing. Having been raised to love the English language, I’ve always wanted to test the limits of my perlocutionary talents. Doing so demands that I enhance both my facility and my discipline as a writer. The late poet, author, and songwriter, Leonard Cohen, often observed that for him, the creative process was more about work ethic than inspiration. Cohen would have agreed with E.B. White who cautioned that “A writer who waits for ideal conditions … will die without putting a word on paper.” With every passing day, I find this wisdom to be simultaneously commanding and daunting.
So on the one hand, committing to a regular essay (sounds so much more elegant than “blog”) is the functional equivalent of hitting the gym, call it writing myself into shape. There is, however, more to it. The other day I heard a reporter say that in the weeks since the 2016 election he has been feeling a kind of emotional whiplash. I think many Americans would agree. This presidential transition appears to be affecting people more personally and more profoundly than any other in memory. Indeed, I would say that many seem to be suffering from what might be called “Post Trumpatic Stress Disorder.”
For this reason, too, I believe that a regular column on leadership refracted through the prisms of both classical Jewish and contemporary sources may have particular resonance during these singularly disquieting times. And even if no one reads these words or the posts that follow, I am determined to craft a perspective that is more tempered than strident, less shrill and more ruminative than what often appears on the infobahn.
Whether you call it personal training, self-therapy or a leadership professor’s dream-come-true, I, now liberated from the illusion that anyone else might care, am determined to move forward. I approach this new venture understanding that the only regular reader is, in all likelihood, going to be me. For now, if that helps me become a better writer, and allows me to articulate a few thoughts more clearly and compellingly, my goal will have been met.