Joseph Jaworski 2018-01-23 08:13:19
The following is an edited excerpt from the speech given to approximately 1,500 attendees at the 2017 State Bar of Texas Annual Meeting in Dallas. Thank you so much, Talmage Boston, for that generous introduction. President Tom Vick, President Frank Stevenson, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and my fellow lawyers, I’m really excited to be here with you today for what at my very core I believe is the call of our time—the re-emergence of the lawyer as leader in society. I want to share three perspectives with you that lie at the heart of this moment in time. They are—I believe—highly relevant to each of you. First: it is in our vital national interest for lawyers to re-emerge as societal leaders—to participate and show the way for others. Second: to explore with you the personal and internal dynamics we experience as we decide to step into roles of societal responsibility and leading change. Finally: to give you a glimpse of the two most powerful leadership principles that exist today—you may say “directives”—ones you can use tomorrow. Why is it in our vital national interest for lawyers to re-emerge as societal leaders and social entrepreneurs? It is true that from the time we’ve all been in law school—and even before—we learned of the responsibility lawyers carry to provide leadership for our communities and the country. Frank Stevenson recently wrote one of the best pieces I’ve ever seen on the lawyer’s role in society. Its title is “Fitted for the Wind.” It’s about the “winter wind” blowing across our republic. He points out that today’s lawyers are opting out, ceding their public service role in pursuit of career goals. His injunction: “We must reclaim our public voice, affirming our heritage of placing citizenship at career’s core…” Now in the face of the winter wind blowing across our country, there is an incipient movement underway—promising to turn this around. We recently returned from a conference in Miami, Florida, convened by Ashoka—the NGO widely recognized as one of the best in class globally. Representatives from 35 universities attended—including 11 law schools. We were asked to present at a track where an entire day was focused on the shifting role of lawyers in a VUCA world”— volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. We attended with two deans from Baylor Law where there is a deep exploration underway toward creating a center at the law school to address the need to provide pioneering leadership development for students in such a business and professional environment where things spin on a dime and disruption is the order of the day. NYU Law School has established such a center. I had an experience recently that has brought Frank’s imperative home to me in concrete and unmistakable terms. Over the past year, we have been involved in helping the Office of the Director of National Intelligence develop long-and medium-term scenarios about global futures; five-and 20-year scenarios reflecting alternative stories about what we are facing as a country and as a globe. The DNI was created in the wake of 9/11 as a way to coordinate the activities of our 17 intelligence agencies. It was determined that 9/11 would not have occurred if the agencies were all communicating with one another. The DNI has a division called the National Intelligence Council, or NIC, that develops these scenarios. They spend three years going to over 100 countries, having deep conversations with microcosms of the society in each country. They are looking for the hidden driving forces that reflect what we are facing as a global community. Once the data is acquired, we spend days and days assessing it, sensing what it is that is likely to emerge. One of the scenarios that was prominently on the front burner is what I call “the Requiem”—and it’s not a pretty picture. It reflects the near collapse of our civilization as we know it. I know that sounds curious—even impossible—but I have vivid memories of what the late John Gardner emphasized to me over and over again and which was the central thesis of his internationally best-selling book, Self-Renewal. He said to me: “Remember, Joseph—civilizations can die; they have throughout history. Ours is not immune. We must be vigilant and continually renew our system. And citizen leaders are the key.” The big idea—the key point that I want to leave with you about these scenarios that have been presented to our 17 intelligence agencies is this: of every one of these challenging, dark scenarios we saw emerging, there was one striking feature: the most potent antidote to these challenges was the advent of “non-state actors.” This is government language for leadership at the state, regional, and community level, including: • Governors, mayors, members of city councils • Civil society leaders—professionals like you • Conscious business leaders; and • Multi-stakeholder problem-solving groups—including business, state/local government, and NGO’s—forging solutions to the toughest problems facing society. The point is that vigilant and active civic leadership is the most powerful antidote to any of the Requiem scenarios. It is in our vital national and global interest that we begin to provide the leadership required in these demanding and troubling times. This set of scenarios and this startling and interesting finding by the NIC represents for us a stark warning—that we have got to have active and vigilant leadership and that that is the most potent antidote to our children living through these kinds of scenarios. It is a cry for new leadership addressed directly to us. It is asking us to run for office, it’s asking us to lead a movement or to build a community organization. It’s asking us to do big meaningful things. And to this cry for new leadership, I strongly suggest that the bar must respond and lead the way for others. Which leads me to my second point. How is it that we choose to step up in challenging times like these? What are the internal dynamics at play here? There is a professor emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Business—Michael Ray. He taught there for over two decades. He is considered one of the most respected authorities living today on the subject of creativity and leadership in business. During the ’80s and ’90s, he taught the most famous figures in Silicon Valley—the founders of the most recognized companies in the valley. People like Steve Jobs, of Apple; Jeff Skoll, of eBay; Chuck Geschke, of Adobe Systems. One day after spending a week with him, I asked him if he could boil down his principles for creativity and leadership. He thought for a few seconds and said, “Awareness of your true calling in life. Answering the questions ‘who am I?’ and ‘what is my work in the world?’” Answering these two questions is the key. Once you figure out the answer to these two questions—and then follow your dream—you will be successful beyond measure. Dr. Ray taught his students about the philosophy of Joseph Campbell’s “reluctant hero” from Campbell’s book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Campbell is talking about you and me. This is the archetype—the model of the person who feels “called” to lead and leave their old life behind them. They are required to “cross the threshold” and enter unknown and risky territory. Most people refuse the call. It’s just too frightening and difficult to leave their comfortable life and their known “tribe” behind them. I am the prime example of the reluctant hero. By 1973 when the Watergate affair began to unfold, I had been a trial lawyer for 13 years, helping to build our firm. I was loving what I did and focused on my work largely to the exclusion of everything else. I was basically a stranger to myself. I had never sought to answer Michael Ray’s two questions; but Watergate and a divorce pulled me up short, forcing me to look inward. My dad was 68 when he moved to Washington to become the Watergate special prosecutor. He was there only one year when President Nixon resigned, but during that time, he would regularly come to our family ranch to meet with me on the weekends. He needed someone he deeply trusted to talk to. My role was mainly to listen. During those weekends at the ranch and then back at home, I would see the president declaring on TV, “I am not a crook” and “I have never obstructed justice” when I knew otherwise. The president—our commander-in-chief—was lying to the American people. This had a profound effect on me. Over time I realized that I was in part responsible for this state of affairs. It took some incubation time, but eventually I began dreaming about forming an institute to develop servant leaders based upon the principles laid down by Robert Greenleaf in a little pamphlet he wrote in the mid-1970s entitled, The Servant as Leader, where he set forth a new framework for understanding the dynamics of leadership: the essence of leadership is the desire to serve one another and serve something beyond our narrow self-interest—a higher purpose. I called the institute I had in mind the American Leadership Forum—ALF for short. It would be designed for people just like me—largely self-absorbed and focusing on their work to the exclusion of almost everything else. I developed a business plan and showed it to my best friend and client, Tom Fatjo. The plan reflected that I’d be the chairman of the executive committee and someone else would be the chief executive of the operation. Tom took the plan home and thought about it overnight and came back and said. “This will never work. This is your dream. And if you’re going to make it a reality, you’re going to have to devote 110 percent of your commitment to make it happen. You’re going to have to leave the law firm and dedicate every ounce of your energy to this—or it just won’t happen.” In my heart, I knew he was telling me the truth, but I didn’t have the guts or the courage to step away from my own “family” at the firm. It took me seven years in all to finally make the decision. Over time the pictures of the new enterprise became all consuming; and at the moment of decision, it was as if I had no real choice. I was living in London, having opened our firm’s practice there. My partners there gave me a great going-away party. And as I walked out the door that Friday night, I was terrified. I had no clue how to develop the curriculum. No network of experts to help me. The resources needed for such a national effort far exceeded my capacity yet, paradoxically, I felt an inner calm that said, “I know I will succeed.” This is the point Campbell writes about as “crossing the threshold.” This is the point of total commitment where there is no turning back. From that point on, what happened had the most mysterious quality to it. Things began falling in place almost effortlessly— unforeseen incidents and meetings with the most remarkable people who were to provide crucial assistance to me. The Sunday after the going-away party, just before dawn, I went out for a long, slow run in Hyde Park. When I returned to the flat, the London Times was on the front step. I went up and threw the paper on the floor and as I began to stretch, I noticed it had opened up to the inside section. There in “war headlines” was the following: “Dr. David Bohm Discovers the Algebra of Algebras—Wholeness and the Implicate Order.” I read the entire article. Although I didn’t understand most of it, in my heart I knew this would deeply inform the entire ALF program. I ran to the phone and by some miracle got ahold of Dr. Bohm. After getting just one or two sentences out, he said, “Come meet me tomorrow at 10 o’clock. I’m going to cancel all my appointments for the day.” I told Dr. Bohm about my experience in Waco in the wake of the F5 tornado that tore through downtown in 1953. I was 18 and a freshman at Baylor. I was just a few blocks from the epicenter of the destruction and was there within minutes. We formed a six-man team and worked for 18 hours in the rescue operation. I told Dr. Bohm of the extraordinary way our team operated—like a football team operating “in the zone” in the last two minutes of the game. Only this lasted 18 hours. I told Dr. Bohm I wanted to recreate this dynamic for teams and civic leader organizations without a deadly crisis. Over the course of that day, Bohm taught me the core principles that would underlie our program. He said, “You have capacities within that are phenomenal if you only knew how to release them.” He taught me the principles at play that enable teams to operate— in his words—“as a single intelligence.” And how there is a hidden causality in the universe that enables this kind of performance. At the end of our time, I asked him how I could develop a curriculum and pedagogy to teach all of this. He smiled, put his arm around me, and as he led me out the door said, “That’s for you to figure out.” The following morning, I was walking down the street to begin determining my next steps. When I passed a newsstand, my eyes fell upon one magazine: a U.S. News & World Report that had the caption “Rx for Leadership in America.” I ran over and opened it. There was an article by a presidential scholar at Colorado College, Tom Cronin. The article was laying out everything I had been dreaming about, patterned on the famous White House Fellows program. I ran back to the flat and tried to reach Dr. Cronin on the phone but couldn’t find him. So that afternoon, I flew to Denver and eventually met with him at Colorado College. I was pouring my heart out to him when he stopped me and said, “I’ll be your first trustee,” and then he told me, “the first person you need to meet is John Gardner in Washington.” I said, “I’ve read everything he’s written, but I couldn’t get in his front door.” Tom said, “He’s a good friend. I was in his first class of White House Fellows when Gardner was in LBJ’s cabinet.” Cronin picked up the phone and got me an appointment for the end of the week. When I met John Gardner, I was again pouring my heart out to him, but he was very stoic. Not smiling—just listening intently. I thought I had shot myself in the foot when he turned around and shuffled through a pile of papers on his credenza. He pulled out a letter he had written to the president of the Aspen Institute. “Here, read this.” I was floored! What he was proposing in that letter tracked precisely with what I was saying. When I looked up, he said, “So you can see, Mr. Jaworski, I deeply believe in what you are proposing. I’m getting off all the boards I’ve served on for years, but I’ll join your effort. Now the next person you need to see is Harlan Cleveland,” who was an ambassador to NATO and a president of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. Cleveland signed on and led me to Rosabeth Moss Kanter, of Yale and now Harvard, a leading scholar on leadership in the world. She led me to the late Warren Bennis at USC who wrote 23 books on leadership. And it went on and on until I had 17 of the most respected thought leaders in the world helping me develop the whole program. It’s now been 37 years since ALF was founded and it still thrives today. Some 5,000 fellows have gone through the yearlong program in small groups of 20 or so each. There are 12 regions served by ALF. Directives This story about the founding of ALF represents a perfect illustration of two of the most powerful leadership principles I know: 1) Follow your dream 2) Stay deeply committed and you will have a life filled with adventure and meaning. The late W.H. Murray was one of the most famous mountaineers and explorers in the world just after World War II. He was known as a pioneer, making many first ascents. He won several awards, including literary awards for his books. He was a respected educator in the U.K. One of his most famous expeditions was the Scottish Himalayan expedition in 1950. The following year, he wrote about the lessons learned there. A particular passage in that book formed the framework for the last half of the book I wrote about ALF. That passage speaks directly to what Dr. Bohm taught me in London—about a hidden causality in the universe which is activated by our intention and way of being. At the end, Murray references Wolfgang Goethe, “Germany’s Shakespeare” and a renowned scientist. Here is the passage: “Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” These are the two directives I mentioned: 1) Follow your dream. Even in the face of high uncertainty, not knowing how you are going to accomplish this dream, just take the first step—the first bold step. Cross that threshold. And the rest will follow. 2) Stay committed. And the doors will open. Thank you! THE REQUIEM SCENARIO Scenario planning, first used by military intelligence in the 1940s, is a structured way for governments and organizations to think about and plan for the future. A small number of stories (usually two) are developed, based upon identified systemic driving forces and their resulting chains of long-term cause and effect. Generative scenarios, first introduced at the Royal Dutch Shell Group in 1990, are now accepted as the most effective way of scenario planning in today’s global environment—using scenarios, not merely to adapt to different possible futures, but to generate—to collaboratively participate in bringing forth better futures. The Requiem Scenario1 is an exploration of the unthinkable—the near collapse of civilization as we know it. Imagining alternative futures, even negative futures, can actually open people up—helping senior leaders think about a future they’ve ignored or denied. When they see this future as a genuine possibility, the expectation is that a profound and subtle shift will occur in how the senior leaders and planners approach one another and the systems of which they are a part. The Requiem Scenario has five causal elements—all of which have been present at the demise of civilizations throughout history.2 Mass Migration—on a scale society has difficulty controlling. Today we are experiencing one of the worst refugee crisis in history in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Disease—occurring on the back of mass migration. Long-distance mass movements can merge previously separate disease pools, introducing new infections to which few are immune. State Failure—can occur as a result of collapsing borders and shrinking populations, both of which often bring down governments. There are currently 40 countries on the NIC watch list. Collapse of Trade—occurs when states can no longer protect business and long-distance exchange networks. These break down, bringing starvation and more rounds of disease and violence. One can see that all four of these elements are in our news almost weekly. These four are all interconnected and provide self-reinforcing feedback loops. This is a dynamic system that can spin out of control relatively quickly. Sudden Climate Event—is the fifth element that can trigger the first element: mass migration. We are seeing the recent reports of eminent climate scientists reflecting the ice shelves in Antarctica are melting at a furious rate. Should these ice shelves suddenly collapse into the sea, sea levels will rise unexpectedly, putting coastal populations in high jeopardy. NOTES 1) See Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society. Joseph Jaworski, Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer and Betty Sue Flowers. 2004. Chapter 1. 2) I am grateful for the superb and thorough analysis of such a scenario in “The Dawn of a New Age” by Ian Morris, of Stratfor Enterprises, https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/dawn-new-dark-age. JOSEPH JAWORSKI has devoted much of his life to exploring the deeper dimensions of transformational leadership. As founder and chairman of Generon International, he advises CEOs and senior executives in Fortune 500 companies. Jaworski began his professional career as an attorney at Bracewell, a prominent international law firm, where he was a senior partner and a member of the executive committee. In 1975, he was elected as a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an honor awarded to the top 1 percent of American litigators.
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