Back on Board

I’m embarrassed at the gap in writing. Anyone would point a finger at the recent article which states that blogging is losing its charm when people discover that one is supposed to write on a disciplined basis. Mea culpa. It is simply that other tasks have assumed a higher priority. I have been involved in an interesting study of seven inner city churches, which is exploring the best way for them to chart their future. To help with that, I have been re-reading The Fifth Discipline and the Fieldbook which followed it. Even though these books are by no means new, they appear to stand the test of time well. Reading them also reminded me of the benefits offered in the work of Robert Fritz. His two books, The Path of Least Resistance and Creating are similarly relevant and helpful.

I summarized some of Robert Fritz’s precepts in my own book. The client, I reference above has a number of problems – too many aging buildings, a lack of volunteers in some cases, faltering financial resources in others. There are short term solutions to problems like these, but as Peter Senge reminds us in The Fifth Discipline, today’s short term solutions often result in tomorrow’s problems. What such organizations need is a vision and a passion to create something new that will bring new growth from the deep roots that unite them.

And I have been pursuing drawing and painting with a new commitment and seriousness. The collection of art instruction books bought through the years in the hope that I would eventually find time to do something hasn’t produced much in and of itself. Why should they? As the taxi driver responded to the passenger who asked him how to get to Carnegie Hall said, ” Man, you gotta practice. What happens when I do this is instructive. I always have a vision of where I want to go. In the past year, I have produced a wealth of failures to achieve what I want. But suddenly, I can sometimes say, Yes, I’ve done it.

This isn’t about becoming a successful commercial painter. It’s about creating something that was not there before I started. It is wrestling occasional results from many drawings that meet my vision of what I am attempting from many that did not succeed.

Whatever we do, – from learning to play the piano to building a successful organization, the focus has to be on practice. Practice brings learning that all the courses in the world can support but cannot teach. It assumes that one will not get it right the first time. It assumes that talent matters little, but determination and patience matter a great deal.

The morning paper again stresses how much employers are looking for innovative employees. A modest proposal would be to let the ones they already have try stuff and fail a good deal of the time.