The Simple Wisdom of the Lens Grinder

The Lens Grinder

The Lens Grinder: Guiding  You  on the  Noble  Journey to Becoming the Person You were Meant to Be

Big “L” Leaders

As Leaders (Big L), most of us have accepted that any claims we wish to make about how seriously we have taken up the practice of our profession will be measured by our way of being.

Because the path to our authentic self and the skillful means to present our highest self daily in all our relationships, requires that we take the journey into the deeper dimensions of “self.”

Improving Ourselves

So we work continuously to increase our Leadership knowledge and skills, value differences as we develop people, execute best practices, introduce multiple bottom-line strategies, practice continuous improvement, and follow a shared vision, values and purpose model, etc to honor our obligations to our followers.

We lead with a noble purpose, integrity, transparency, trust, mutual respect, kindness, and compassion as our basic core values.

All the time knowing that our total commitment to deep growth in higher awareness, tapping into multiple perspectives, and living from a world-centric principle is imperative on our path to awakening and authenticity.

So below I offer you another measure of the “simple wisdom” of the Lens Grinder as your journey continues.

The Lens Grinder

MY STORY OF THE OLD MYSTICI met the Lens Grinder purely by chance many years ago.  He was wise and a spiritual wonder and I was busy working my way up the executive ladder.

Lens Grinder

He had few attachments and I wanted it all.  He laughed at my ambition and struggles and I thought he was off the meds.  He was barely noticeable in his humility and I was chasing the spotlight.  He said nothing much about himself and I could not say enough about my talents.

He was truly at peace showing no stress and I was a Type A on steroids possibly headed for burnout or an untimely end.  Providence was surely at play the day we met but I didn’t get it until much later.

Since then there have been times when he was my closest advisor and there have been times when he was not around.  But we are always connected.  I treasure our relationship and I am blessed by the guidance of his simple wisdom over these many years.

I have wanted to share his special spiritual and philosophic gifts, and his deep way of seeing and being in the world for a number of years.

Recently, I decided it was time.

His teachings remind us that like the Great Mystery that is Our Life, our journey proceeds with or without our awakening until the meaning is finally revealed or not and our story ends.  Will you be living your own story when your life ends?

“The greatest gift we can give to others is not to walk in front of them, not to follow behind them, but to walk beside them sharing our wisdom and experience.” ~  L. Heft

Life Presents Itself Only Once

The Lens Grinder teaches…  Oh, how foolish we are when our blessed human birth does not inform our consciousness.  It is true; we all enter the world at square one with no say over birthplace, parents, gender, race, health, intelligence, or the people, and culture, etc. that will help shape who we are in the world.

But we are here now and there is no place else to go.

We may not know our purpose in being here, how or if our true gifts will evolve and how we will show up in creating our grown up self.

On Being Fully Awake

We are whole but partial.  We are alive but perhaps not awake.  We know many things but perhaps not the most important.  We are on a great journey and our map may take us towards the shallows or into the deep end of wisdom and substance.  It is our choice even if we do not know it or choose to own it.

We are forever engaged in the embraces and resistances of ego and shadow in the mystical dance of life.  Too often, when our awareness abandons us to the whims of our own distractions, we are uncertain, adrift, and ignorant to our true nature.

“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”  ~  Kierkegaard

On Being Fully Engaged

We create our personal way of suffering and the map to take us there over and over again.  I would not have it so.  I would have you fully awakened, engaged, and presenting your highest self each day.  But I do not seek to change you and in many cases, my beliefs are received as the rant of a fool.

And, so without interior self-work, you cannot see the dream you call life or escape the trickster ego that applauds your false self and cajoles you saying, well done!

“This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine.  There is nothing more confining than the prison we don’t know we are in” ~ William Shakespeare

Do we not know that the Divine is right in front of us and that our authentic self is waiting so patiently to be revealed?  Throughout our life, spirit is anticipating that our true self will show up one day and add our music to the rhythm of the Heavens.

Will you commit to evolve, emerge, awaken, and show up in your lifetime?  Or, will you add your name to the list of the many who never really know who they are, why they are here, or what really matters in a life well lived?

Knowing Your Journey

My friend, the truth is you cannot cheat life even if on your journey you just never arrive.  So I do not say that I know anything for sure that I can teach you.  Yet we both know we will always have so very much to learn.  Is it not the ocean that cuddles its wetness in every wave?  What about you?  Who cuddles your essence?

“For each of us, the only hope resides in his own efforts, in completing his own story, not in the other’s interpretation.”  ~ S. Kopp


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Doug Ramsey

Doug Ramsey is Managing Director at Designed Management, LLC
He serves with Company Building, Growth, Leadership Development, and Coaching
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Servant Leadership: Authenticity and the Spiritual Journey


Leading with a Noble Purpose and pursuing a life of service to others only becomes authentic, dynamic and revitalizing when your spiritual practice evolves to the higher stages.

Until then it is mainly a “prepersonal” exercise firmly anchored to your egocentric self.

Being Selfless or Selfish

Leading without a spiritual purpose boils down to a simple ego-boosting technique that may make you feel better, but it will not lead to authenticity and into the ranks of the BIG L Leader.  Doing good and being your highest self is not the same thing.  Doing good can have at its essence an inflated ego drive – at a prepersonal level.

Authenticity and right motives may be repressed by the cocoons of denial and self-deception always assuring you of what a good person you are.  When in reality, Authentic Servant Leadership requires brutal self-honesty (as to your true intentions) and that you truly acknowledge with kindness and compassion your own vulnerabilities.

You have no choice here!

“Be the most ethical, the most responsible, the most authentic you can be with every breath you take, because you are cutting a path into tomorrow that others will follow.”  Ken Wilber

Detaching From Self

This developmental process is ongoing throughout life and it presents itself at both our strongest and weakest times.  If your understanding of “self” is deep and broad enough, you will have the opportunity to detach from ego and with work, experience your higher self.

Then your Servant Leadership style will move towards authenticity and it will resonate in all you do.

This is the true meaning of service and responsibility blended within the presence of a true seeker seeing from multiple perspectives and choosing right actions in being in the world.  Alas, you are awakening; you are beginning to know who you are and what matters to you.

“If you put yourself in God’s position, you will see that you wouldn’t be able to create the future in and through a selfish, self-centered person who deeply experiences incarnation as a burden.  There simply wouldn’t be any room for you in such an individual’s heart, mind, and soul.  This is why our enlightenment – our development beyond ego – has become nothing less than an evolutionary imperative.”  Andrew Cohen

Making a Difference

If you have or are about to take up the practice, you have chosen to use yourself in modeling your beliefs, values, and gifts each day.  You are now truly being in the world, however beautiful or ugly each day presents itself.

This is where you will stand with no excuses, apologies or wavering.  You are here.  You are not lost.

The manifest and absolute realities of life will show themselves.  You are beginning to understand what you are here to do and have accepted the reality that your story (indeed all our stories) will end.  As a Big L Leader, you will take a spiritual stance in your leadership beliefs and actions.

This path leads you to discover how you will make a difference by contributing what only you can give.  Is there any nobler path other than the one that leads to your inner self?

“What is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts?  It is the glorious sound of a soul waking up!”  ~ Hafiz

A New Frontier

As many of us have discovered, these moments of spiritual depth and insight may strike us suddenly and leave us a bit unsure about our previous worldview.

They illuminate for us a new frontier of profound growth and development.

That what we seek – our true self – is right in front of us.  Are we ready to tap into this awesome potential?  Deep experiences of this scale are essential for next stage progression in consciousness and awareness. Helping us evolve spiritually and integrally.

But we need the courage and commitment to step up and out on to this new frontier in order to feel the solid ground that will hold and lead us to our new-found “self” and the dangers, opportunities, responsibilities and obligations that await our arrival.

  • How will you find your true self and immerse yourself in the authentic leadership experience that offers you the noble purpose way forward in your life and work?
  • How do you continue to grow and deepen continuously, even when you are not in touch directly with these deeper developmental insights?

To paraphrase Rumi:

“These spiritual window-shoppers, who idly ask, ‘How much is that?’

Oh, I’m just looking.  They handle a hundred items and put them down, shadows with no capital…

Even if you don’t know what you want, buy something, to be part of the exchanging flow…

As a leader, can you hear the spirit calling? If you cannot, what can you do to tune your ears, heart, and soul toward your calling? If so, what are your next steps in influencing others to greater heights? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Doug Ramsey

Doug Ramsey is Managing Director at Designed Management, LLC
He serves with Company Building, Growth, Leadership Development, and Coaching
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Leaders, Politics and Those “Others”

Political Mud

Leaders know that effective political skills are essential in navigating safely in today’s world where knowing how to handle sticky issues with powerful people, colleagues, and friends is an advanced relationship survival skill.

This subject (politics and power) hit me as the US Presidential election played out this November.

Positives and Negatives

I felt pounded day and night with the unrelenting ads from both major parties.  We tell leaders they have to learn both positive and negative political skills but what do we make of the election strategies?

Is dirty beautiful now?

We must know how to tread lightly through the political minefields, and when an explosion may be necessary or that one is about to happen in spite of our efforts.  So what do the political skills on display from the professionals in DC and beyond the Beltway teach us?

Whether your candidate won or lost on November 6, you are probably glad it is all finally over.

We have lowered the bar almost to the ground when an important event that should fill us with pride about how we pick our leaders becomes a hate, stress-filled contest that shows American at its worst and leaves our country in discord.

Winning and Losing

Where the only way we win is if those “others” lose and the only way we can be right is if those “others” are punished for being wrong.  It is shadow time in a groupthink design and the trolls in our subconscious are out front and center.

  • To the ego, it is a game of kill-or-be-killed to prove we are right.
  • To our authentic self, it is the suffering of disbelief of how did this madness happen to me.  Am I really like this?

We say we detest dirty (too mild a word) politics and then cheer and collude to beat those “others” by doing whatever it takes.  Truth and civility be damned as the end justifies the means as only we can save our country and the world.

Talking Smack

Are you sad that we have turned our major elections into “super bowl” type events?  Each one filled with home and away opponents, giving us the good, the bad, posturing and hype, talking smack, and trash, warning, insulting our enemies, incensed with hatred, vitriol, and sometimes violence.

Why do choose to pit citizen against citizen in a rivalry of hate, scorn and beat downs?

Each side ready to fight to the finish to defend its special interests, and crush the enemy who doesn’t see the world the right way meaning like we do.  We have smart, patriotic, people in America who mostly care about their vision of life in the larger world.

Ready for War

Some bring us particularly narrow special interest agendas, all need to be right, and that means almost no one will ever admit they are wrong.  All these people with whom we coexist with civilly each day until they suddenly become those “others.”

Many (and growing it appears) see those “others” as real enemies and at the extreme they are seen as evil.

Manufactured combatants, all fired up, resolute, expressing moral superiority, and out to get the man, a targeted group, or a cause to insure what’s right.  Tribes that believe in the justness of their actions and seeking division with those “others.”

“All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.”  -  John Arbuthnot

Blame and The New Normal

We too easily blame the President, his staff of true believers, the deep pattern of corruption on Capitol Hill, the strategies and tactics of the various political operatives, lobbyists, superpacs, powerful special interest groups, etc. and we are partially right.

Then there is the news media.

Once they were the honest brokers or so it seemed.  The keepers of what used to be the gold standard of moral codes that they held as their duty to honor and uphold.  But alas, the code is no longer.  Today our “new normal” news media is not part of the mechanism that provides solutions to our Country’s global problems.

But rather they are the shameless voices and faces that help perpetuate our blindness to the real causes of these problems.

I would have used the word truth but they do not know the meaning of the word anymore.  The mainstream press, the internet media poseurs (bloggers) with our and outside help has abolished our need for a moral compass allowing corrupt, politically biased opinions (called reporting) to thrive.

He could not see a belt without hitting below it.  - Margot Asquith

Our Moral Code

But unfortunately, this is not the complete story line. The missing characters in this drama are tied tightly to our shadow and our “causes.” We all collude in this sick and twisted group-think game of “ego and self deception.”

What is lost is the opportunity that is America.

Our integral opportunity to be of service to others in devotion to our country’s moral code while eliminating most of the negative elements that might one day end this self-defeating game.

Meanwhile, our country stays divided, full of hate and mean-spirited intentions.

It has become a country in decline, governed (with few exceptions) within a seriously fractured, corrupt, inefficient, ineffective and culturally dysfunctional political system.

Leading Us Where?

Lead by the morally challenged people we elected to operate a system where no one really wins or loses too much so the system can self-perpetuate.

Sounds like the joke’s on us.

In our political version of the Super Bowl, the consequences of bad play calling are getting higher. But the show must go on in our heavily mediated pay-per-view, prime time event.

Where the winners and their supporters have their egos validated and inflated temporarily.

As after the election, we go back to our daily reality working with those “others.” Are we truly blind? Do we even see the dead-end street ahead of us? It is time to face it; we are ashamed of nothing anymore. My opinion and I could be wrong.

“Want a friend?  Get a dog.”  – Capitol Hill Saying


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Doug Ramsey

Doug Ramsey is Managing Director at Designed Management, LLC
He serves with Company Building, Growth, Leadership Development, and Coaching
Email | LinkedIn | Web




Timeless Leadership Wisdom From “The Lens Grinder”

Lens Grinder

One of the great influences in my life has been my long-term relationship with an old sage that I met quite by accident. 

I know him as the “Lens Grinder.”

My Old Sage

He is a true Big L Leader and spiritual teacher who helps guide my career and life through hours of coaching, reflection, mindfulness teachings, and instruction in right actions.  This mystic philosopher, spiritual intuitive and loving friend has taken me deep into “Self, ego, shadow” and to the brink of the absolute truth.

Evolving as an authentic leader and fully awakened person under his guidance has been the best of times and the worst of times but the payoff for me personally and professionally has been more than worth it.

“Be the most ethical, the most responsible, the most authentic you can be with every breath you take, because you are cutting a path into tomorrow that others will follow.”  – Ken Wilber

So here is a taste of the old sage’s wisdom focused on the area of our personal and professional development.  The key to learning the power of his simple wisdom is not to acknowledge, agree, or disagree but to practice and apply some or all of these teachings in your daily life and work or at least your version of them.

My Lessons Learned

The Lens Grinder teaches us…

  • We are owed nothing just because we are here.  Our precious birth is payment enough.
  • Remember, you are not alone on this journey unless you choose to be.
  • Everyone who chooses to help us, we will consider it a true blessing and be thankful.  If you do not feel blessed then your ego is showing.
  • With or without help, we alone are responsible for what we become and how our life/career turns out.  Our story and legacy is created as we live.
  • What we believe we are entitled to receive is only our ego telling us that we deserve to take more than we give and play the victim when don’t get everything we want.
  • It is not OK to play the victim.  So never allow yourself to play the victim; there are always better choices available.
  • We control much less than we think but no excuses will be accepted.
  • There will always be an increasing number of growth and development programs at all levels and an army of experts and gurus to show us the way.
  • Be prepared to find out that most are not nearly deep enough to insure that we will get what we really need and want.  I fear it will always be so.
  • Like a hot shower on a cold morning, these programs may not hurt you but the effects probably will not last long either.
  • Choose to make “true self” growth and development your total responsibility.
  • Decide that your transformation to your highest self is your responsibility and never anyone else.
  • You must follow a “know thyself” development path to find out who you are, why you are here, and to connect with the higher stages of consciousness.
  • Develop a serious spiritual practice.  You can choose Bibles, beads, or crystals from the vortex; it does not matter but for your own sake get into the game.
  • You do not have a choice in this area of growth and development if you hope to live a fully awakened life rather than living in the dream with the sleepwalkers.
  • Accept that impermanence is the one thing that we all share.  It is in our fear and denial that we can hear spirit faintly saying, “just wake up.”
  • Life is not fair.  OK, so you have heard that one.  Then stop insisting that the world be different than it is.
  • When you choose to make yourself upset and miserable, you are caught up in your own drama and performing your unique personal form of whining.
  • With knowledge of self and hard work, you can stop the misery or you can wallow in it, if you prefer.  It is a weakness of character to wallow in it.
  • Despite the many challenges and uncontrollable events in life, we are obligated to do our best in spite of the obstacles.

“What you can be you must be.”  Abraham Maslow

  • The world could care less about our reality.  Would we really want it any other way?
  • Being and becoming, evolving and growing, shucking and jiving, whooping and hollering, slipping and sliding, wishing and hoping – life presents itself once to each of us.
  • What are we called to do and be?  Would one taste of absolute truth convince us of the profound truth of how our stories end?  Would it matter?
  • Ambition and high expectations in pursuit of a noble purpose brings passion to our lives and our work.  So think big and pursue great things.  Just be kind to yourself when you fall short or fail and know that you will fall short and fail because that is the way the game is played.
  • In chasing your goals, do not lose sight of your intent.  Right actions do not stray too far from their original intent.
  • In following your maps and models, remember tools that can help you can also trap you.  Falling into ego and role traps makes fools of us all.
  • When you discover what really matters to you, build your base there, act with integrity, loving kindness, and a compassionate heart, and hope some good cards fall your way.  Is being alive great or what?
  • Resolve to do your best to present your highest self in being in the world.  And, never forget, that no one gets out alive.  Not me, not you, no one!

I hope these insights gained from mentoring with the Lens Grinder are somewhat helpful to our current and developing leaders.  Comments welcomed! I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Doug Ramsey is Managing Director at Designed Management, LLC
He serves with Company Building, Growth, Leadership Development, and Coaching
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On Leadership and the Cultural Shadow System

Lurking in the Shadows

So, who or what do you think is really running your business? Is it something you can readily see, feel, touch, or experience on a regular basis?

Or might it be something hidden in the shadows that is actually controlling things??

Informal Influence

One of my findings of working in organizations is an unhealthy and destructive set of organizational dynamics that I call the cultural shadow system” (CSS).  This array of unseen forces operate inside the organization’s informal system and are a powerful, influential, and negative set of silent assumptions, and irrational beliefs affecting the performance and growth centers of the organization.

They work to disrupt the evolutionary development of emotional intelligence and higher state awareness within the leadership team and workforce.  They obstruct growth in the areas of leadership, culture, and socialization.

CSS infects and changes the cultural dynamics that shape individual, team and organization effectiveness, performance and awareness.  In my opinion, many of the strategy and execution failures that company’s experience today are contaminated by CSS.

“An organization can be its own worst enemy.”  - Finney and Ian Mitroff

CSS Dynamics

Silent and Destructive

CSS works partially because denialself-deceptioncollusion, and false agreement have become so common in the people systems of so many organizations.

It’s the new comfort zone.

It operates as a collection of primarily covert dynamics and affects at least four interdependent people domains.

Irrational Belief Systems

These underlying and irrational system forces operate on the organization’s work environment and infect its member’s core beliefs and behaviors.  CSS normalizes the rate of growth and decline in order to maintain (roughly) the status quo within a dysfunctional organization’s (cultural) center of gravity.  CSS is the set of informal rules devoutly believed that inform the “why, how and what to do rules” that are rigidly followed by most of the organization’s members.

It is an acute form of functional blindness affecting the corporate strategy, culture, and each individual member’s ways of working day-to-day. ~John W. Gardner

It insures a lower but accepted level of performance by making sure that members below the center of gravity are pulled up or out and members moving ahead (above) are pulled down, or out by the “center’s” informal authority system.

CSS employs various group dynamics such as peer pressure, reward and punishment practices, unhealthy norm enforcement, interpersonal approval and disapproval actions, and social acceptance and alienation mechanisms, among others to regulate the irrational and under performing center of gravity.

Obedient to the “informal rules,” the members cannot fix problems because they cannot see them.

Self Defeating Behaviors

These are used within the CSS framework and are the conscious and unconscious set of irrational behaviors that operate as accepted practices and regulate feedback and disclosure.  The result is a false reality and a lowered level of awareness of how the members and organization are really doing.

Over time (and under stress), CSS can disrupt the members’ awareness of organizational reality, preventing right actions and self critiquing and spawning catastrophic fantasies and chaotic communications that continually increase inaction, wrong action and misinformation.

These “CSS” dynamics serve to obstruct the organization’s ability to learn from its experiences, evolve, and grow into a healthy and high performance culture.

Silent Assumptions

The assumptions operating in the Informal System allow CSS to regulate the formal and informal boundaries and expectations that define the accepted range of worker behaviors.  Silent assumptions, low expectations, and false agreement operate to maintain and reinforce the veiled center of gravity.

Further, the core values that usually insure effective communications, expand member awareness, and produce truthful feedback and learning are normalized to match the center of gravity.

This can result in a suspended workplace focused entirely on maintaining the revered “center.”  As a result, rational individual and collective goals are maligned and replaced with ambiguous organizational priorities.  This process helps perpetuates the false truth around performance, progress, and results and reinforces the members’ certainty that the organization’s is succeeding.

What to Do?

To manage the CSS dynamics effectively requires a more integrative way of leading and thinking.  Leaders need more time for reflective thinking about how to develop an integral leadership style, improve organizational health, and fitness for future actions.

They must develop a psychologically safe culture that supports open and honest feedback even when it is controversial and objectively measures actual results, people systems, weaknesses, and external realities.

This will require leaders to engage in self-work, raise their awareness, and develop the ability to lead from multiple perspectives.

All while teaching, coaching, and developing others along the path to increased EI, authentic meaning, and courage in pursuing improvement, innovation, and changes that matter.

Redesigning Reality

This includes diligence in design and reinforcement of healthy cultural norms, the reflective development of deep core values, and employing a holistic leadership style in executing major change and improvement initiatives.

One of the primary goals in reducing the effects of CSS is to architect and execute a healthy, structured, and disciplined set of practices to advance the organization’s vision and strategy, organizational learning, rapid adaption capability and development of conscious leaders.

The informal systems reality of CSS requires Leading (Big L) with depth in developing, executing and communicating (actions and words) a compelling vision, values and purpose intent.

A vision anchored in integrity, a strong moral code, rich in meaning and guided by a noble purpose imperative.

The integrity of a team based management system is in no small way determined by the degree in which the teams’ behavior is authentic and honors in action the concepts of social justice, the workers freedom to do their jobs, to be himself or herself, and that fully utilizes the team’s talents within a higher stage culture and productive workplace design.

“The more we are blinded (not fully awake or aware) to these internal forces, the more likely CSS will carry us along into the unseen white waters where the power of our internal turbulence will lead us to unwanted and harmful outcomes.  The proverbial organizational train wreck silently waiting to happen…”  Doug

Can you identify with the CSS dynamic? How do Leaders focus on increasing self-awareness in the workforce? How do you define higher stage leadership in the 21st Century? Is there an implied moral code inherent in leadership?


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Doug Ramsey is Managing Director at Designed Management, LLC
He serves with Company Building, Growth, Leadership Development, and Coaching
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Authentic Leadership Development: Microwave or Slow Cooker?

Crock Pot Leadership

In other posts, I have tried (with respect) to call-out my colleagues for providing lightweight advice that really doesn’t work for the long haul.

I have asked them to join me in creating what I see as authentic Leadership (Big L) that grows leaders slowly and effectively refines the recipes of up-and-comer leaders like a “crock pot” cooker cooks a delicious recipe over time.

And I ask them to not work to try to create a community of “microwave” leaders (small l) and their entourage of microwave coaches, trainers, charismatic and celebrity experts, etc.

We have all seen the marketing literature offering leadership training, seminars, workshops, executive education, and development.

Same Stuff, Different Day

Some of you have been around for years and we all have participated in one or more of these offerings.

And here we are again … new models, new techniques … new programs … new gurus … same exaggerated promises … same buyer beware marketing … high participation costs … slicker packaging … ego-based (mediated) credentials … same shallow results.

Still we somehow just cannot get enough of “playing” at leadership development.

It is just too much fun at an ego level.

By learning to pretend, I became the character I was miscast to be.”  ~ S Kopp

Leadership As a Profession

So my writings are attempts to awaken the leadership community so they will embrace the assertion that Leadership is, in fact, a profession.

One that requires mastery of a complex set of theories, knowledge and diverse skills through education, a deep professional development practice and extensive practical experience.

Mastering the profession is a lifelong continuous learning and consciousness growth process.

If we can agree on this basic premise then we might also agree that a day or week of development or access to a broad array of “how to” techniques is simply more of the same with predictable results even if the packaging is more appealing, the language cooler and the pitch more narcissistic.

Nuke Me, Baby

While the practitioners of the “microwave” model seem to lack the commitment or awareness to strive for the Big L model, they very much want to appear to be fully competent and achieving as leaders, leadership development experts, experienced and wise coaches, etc.

But the depth of their “expertise” is, at its core, seriously flawed.

The result is a facade and most likely a manifestation of the trickster ego and self-deception.

I know there are many serious Leadership professionals hard at work developing new models (see Integral Leadership as an example) for evolving our profession, remaking leadership development programs, and coaching leaders in taking up the practice in a deeper approach.  So although the Big L Leaders are a minority, they are a growing force.

 What one can be, one must be!”  ~ Abraham Maslow

On Leadership, Growth, and Prosperity

One of our profession’s paradoxes is that everyone sees the leadership profession through their personal filters that are shaped and embedded with the values and beliefs from our total life experience.

So whomever’s model we favor has some knowledge, truth, wisdom, and meaningful lessons along with some biases, inaccuracies, reductionism, and perhaps a few shadow elements that distort the truth of the model’s design.

We know authentic Leadership is critical to the present and future of our country’s economic and business growth and prosperity.

I believe it is also at the heart in shaping our spiritual (ethics and moral) beliefs and values.

To Evolve or Devolve

As a result, Leadership will either contribute to our increasing decline or evolve to help us map the pathway to a new and better future.  And, we must begin to differentiate leadership practices that are “style, surface, symptom” based from those that are “higher consciousness” based.

As life in today’s complex and chaotic world continues to confront us with new and greater challenges, we can evolve, grow, and find the calling of Big L Leadership or continue to pretend we are not pretending.

A time of turbulence is a dangerous time, but its greatest danger is a temptation to deny reality.”  -  Peter Drucker  

How do we achieve higher stage leadership development and show up as our highest self in service to a noble purpose?

Your Leadership Calling

To me, we can best find our leadership calling and our noble purpose through a lifelong search for our authentic self, courageously engaging in deep shadow work to address our self-defeating beliefs and behaviors, and growing in consciousness closer to our spiritual nature – the core of our highest self.

The approach we take in finding out “who we are, really” can bind us to our limited ego self or it can lead us to our limitless authentic self.

We can pretend leadership is nothing more the effective translation of the various value shaping and leadership processes offered today or we can discover that authentic leadership requires us to take the journey into “self.”

This is a bold undertaking that transforms us at a head, heart, and soul level.

Even if what we so devoutly believe we know as reality is radically changed or it is scrapped all together.

Flavor of the Day

From a Leader’s (Big L) point of view, simply leading by translating the latest flavor of the day leadership ideas is not enough to develop us deeply as authentic Leaders who can make a significant difference in today’s world.

In fact, until we awaken and commit to take up the practice of our profession all the seminars, coaching and certifications in the world will only serve to feed and inflate our ego so we can continue to “play house” operating in a leadership role in which we don’t know what we don’t know.

All our stories end the same way – with our ultimate demise.  What legacy will we leavePoseur or authentic leader, what does your inner voice tell you?  A narcissist focused on my ego needs or a servant pursuing a noble purpose in service to others.

So what to do?

“Do everything as if it were the only thing in the world that mattered, while all the time knowing that it doesn’t matter at all.”  ~ Advice Don Juan gave Carlos Castaneda


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Doug Ramsey is Managing Director at Designed Management, LLC
He serves with Company Building, Growth, Leadership Development, and Coaching
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Managing Change: Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind

Out of Mind

Throughout my career as a C-level executive, management troubleshooter, and organization consultant, I have been around the change/transformation process a number of times. 

For me, some of these “change programs” have been more successful and enjoyable than others. 

Observations on Change

To provide some valuable experiences to you in an effort to help you learn and grow, I humbly offer some observations and insights from my change agent experience.

“We are always at risk to leave our values in the attic when we fall in love with great looking new techniques.”  ~M.Weisborg 

We know there are many reasons that despite the hard work of smart and engaged people 70% of all change efforts fail. Below are a few (perhaps) lesser-known concepts from my experience that may help in understanding why change efforts with so much promise can end up making things worse and doing harm because they go wrong so often.

Hidden Reasons Why Change Programs Go Wrong

Functional Blindness

Author John Gardner once said:

“Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects.  They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot see their problems.” 

This has been my experience over the years in designing and executing change assignments.  This condition may come from self-deception.

Or it may just come from big egos.

It may come from a culture that is not psychologically safe so telling the truth is not the norm or from collusion and false agreement within the management system.  And, of course, leaders (big L and little l) make bad decisions.

Regardless, when some mix of these dynamics are at work, the ability to make informed and accurate judgments and decisions about change management is greatly diminished.

Psychological Inertia 

I learned this powerful dynamic from Albert Ellis one of the pioneering cognitive psychotherapists.  Since then others have added to the understanding of this concept.

“The essential learning here is that once an individual’s belief system is established and embedded, s/he may begin to question the ‘rightness’ of change initiatives if they do not conform to the individual’s beliefs about the best way to improve the system.”

Such that, when evidence supporting the needed change is presented, it is ignored and resisted until the company’s ability to gain the expected benefits of the change is lost.

Competing Commitments

 This idea comes from developmental psychology.  My reference is the work of Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey.

What Kegen and Lahey discovered over many years of researching and studying resistance to change is:

“Having an open mind, or being pressured or coerced to change does not produce (authentic) change in an individual, but that most people have internal ‘competing commitments’ that inhibits their receptiveness and willingness to change.”

They also discovered that behind the competing commitment is a major assumption that creates an immunity to change.

For example, I am not opposed to the change, but I may have doubts, fears, etc. about future phases of the change that I may not be capable of controlling or able to deal with.  As such, my competing commitment driven by this assumption about future issues will cause me to resist despite my conscious desire to support the change.

Changing behavior requires self honesty and the willingness to invest in sincere disclosure and feedback.  Once the competing commitment is made visible and is worked through, we can overcome the immunity to change.

Personal Awareness Level

This is a theory I started to develop in Graduate School.  Fortunately, smarter people were working in the same direction.

“Perhaps the most powerful tool we have in being an effective agent for change is our presentation of self in executing our role in doing the work.” 

Our ability to bring our highest self to the cause we are supporting is determined, in large part, to our personal level of awareness.  This dynamic affects the range and depth of the impact we can make and our ability to make choices and use skillful means to increase our impact.

Negative Informal System Dynamics 

These are the silent, unspoken assumptions, processes, and behaviors operating in the informal system manifesting as negative group dynamics.

They work to disrupt and undermine the goals and objectives of specific organizational initiatives that are not perceived as congruent with the informal system.  Or, that threaten the cultural center of gravity that regulates what behaviors, values, relationships and actions are beneficial in preserving the wellbeing of the informal system members.

Adapting to Change

I have found it helpful to expect and understand the disruptive effects these hidden mental and emotional thoughts and feelings can have on most of our change agendas.  Even our best people are not immune and can disrupt our change efforts without really knowing why.

Our ability to adapt and respond effectively to a constantly changing and chaotic world is in fact both a mind and spirit issue.  By advancing our understanding of the hidden dynamics that may cause change to fail; we can develop new perspectives and a renewed courage to confront these situations, with a creative and innovative spirit.

This requires:

  • The Big L Leader model
  • Courageous use of self in execution
  • Deeper understanding of group dynamics
  • More effective interventions at all levels
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Inclusion in mobilizing the formal and informal systems in support of our vision, values, and purpose

Finally, our change initiatives must become integral in design to ensure inspired accountability, engaged support, and sustained commitment.

“The reason change is so hard is because everyone thinks it is about someone else.” ~D. Ramsey

Have you encountered any of these change dynamics? Did they change your design and execution plans? How do you know if the informal system will support planned change? Does your company recognize the wealth of diverse talents in their workforce? Does Change Management need an integral approach to insure success?


Never miss an issue of Linked 2 Leadership, subscribe today
Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Doug Ramsey is Managing Director at Designed Management, LLC
He delivers programs in Company Building, Profitable Growth,
Leadership Development, and Coaching

Email | LinkedIn | Web

Image Sources:


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