Back to School

I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.

– Natalie Portman –


Today is the first day of classes at Cal State San Marcos where I am a lecturer in the College of Business. Seventeen thousand students will make their way to campus this week to re-engage with friends, fellow students, faculty and staff as they pursue their educational goals.

As someone who spends the lion’s share of my time working with clients in the business world I have an advantageous position to see and hear what leaders have to say about the kind of people they want…they need…to employ.

Based on that awareness I consider it a privileged responsibility to help my students understand, commit to and practice the kind of learning that will help them make extraordinary contributions both during their school careers and in the professional pursuits that follow.

Here’s what matters most:

  • CREATIVITY – the ability to address complex problems from fresh perspectives and with novel approaches.
  • ENERGY – the ability to sustain an attitude of healthy adaptability in a constantly changing environment.
  • INITIATIVE  – the ability to notice and address opportunities that will help us to learn and grow.

Finally, and most importantly as far as I’m concerned, is the COURAGE to pursue radical self awareness, without which none of the above is remotely possible.

As you organize yourself for the lectures, meetings and assignments, the group work and the presentations, don’t forgot to take a few minutes to notice yourself. Take just a few moments away from the swirl of expectations and events to learn who you are as you learn who you are becoming.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

Today, at work

Today, at work you can spend as much creativity, energy and initiative as you want.

And if there is anything getting in your way of spending every last penny, today is a very good day to sort out why that is.

My guess is that one of two things is true:

1. Your boss has failed to create an environment worthy of your considerable investment.

2. You are playing it safe.

My life’s work is to make a small dent in #1.

Your life’s work is to make a big dent in #2.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

Friday Reflection

The weekend is calling. Before you go, a brief reflection on the week that was.

This week I wrote about love, creativity, energy and choice.

I find myself in a deeper conversation about the regard for self – emotional, mental, physical and spiritual – that is necessary to stay as present as I possibly can to what matters most.

Love myself so that I can love others more generously.

Befriend my creativity so that it can be more fully expressed.

Maintain my energy to sustain my ability to love and create.

Trust that my love, creativity and energy is worthy of being chosen. And the only choice that matters is the one I make in favor of myself.

I wish you a restful, playful weekend. That you emerge on Monday morning with a renewed sense of clarity about the contribution you are meant to make and the determination to see it through.

DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world, especially the parts where he doesn’t handle it very well.

Walking

“I have walked myself into my best thoughts.” Soren Kierkegaard

I have lost count of the number of times I have sat slumped at my desk at an impasse with a project, proposal or blog post  only to finally admit to that my best and only option is to extract myself from the chair, put my walking shoes on, get a leash on the dog and head out for a walk.

Slogging through it. Grinding it out. Trying harder. These all have their place. But without a sustained attention to the energy they demand, their gravitational pull can lead us into a one-dimensional orbit of limited perspective.

When I get up and get moving I invite my body to join my brain in a conversation of possibility. Turning hard questions over in my mind, my movement acts as a sharp spade, knifing through the impacted soil of my narrowed thought. I open up the gravelly earth of my thinking and discover what is hidden there, what can only be found with the gifts of space, movement, air and sun.

Inevitably, I surprise myself with a key word or thought that feels so obvious and so clear that I can only wonder why I waited so long to get this change of scenery. Sometimes, instead of insisting on figuring it out in a sustained glut of effort, the best I can do is to create the conditions most likely to aid my search for a new way forward.

We were not made for slumping in chairs. We were made to move.

Leader’s note: You are a “Chief Energy Officer,” to borrow a phrase. The more you activate energy in yourself the more you will activate it in others. Get moving, they’re waiting for you.