Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sharon Parks Daloz - Influences in our lives

The other thing I did this weekend was finish Big Questions - Worthy Dreams by Sharon Parks Daloz. It was quite a fitting end to the weekend as I road through the countryside east of Paris. The timing of my reading this is a little more than uncanny. I'm working diligently on Deeper Learning in Leadership and have now completed four chapters. I have one more chapter that I intend to complete while here which will make me more than half done toward the goal of delivering the manuscript on May 1, 2006. I may even beat the deadline.

The book is focused on how to address questions of the purpose and organization of higher education related to developing deeper leadership potential in our graduates. Sharon's book has stimulated lots of new thoughts about the book, both in terms of style and substance. As a result, I've modified the thrust of the chapter I begin this week, which is focused on examples of leadership programs that drive understanding deeper.

One of the interesting examples that Sharon proposes as a helpful catalyst for young adults' inner journey is travel abroad. When I decided to come to MUDEC I didn't know entirely what I needed to learn but Sharon put her finger on at least one of the great lessons of this experience. She said that "international travel can evoke deepened recognition and connection and interdependence" by "awakening curiosity, evoking awe, deepening compassion, informing the mind, and opening possibilities." Wow! I couldn't even begin to describe my experience better than this. Even when you do your study abroad as a mature professional, there's so much to learn and it does take you to a different place.

Another part of my presence in Europe relates to a point Sharon made about nature being a stimulus for insight as well. She says about outdoor activities like hiking, camping, climbing, etc., "Also in relation to people, it teaches you how important it is to care about others. If you get into trouble, you need people or you will probably die - what to do if nobody cares enough to help." I've had this experience repeatedly in my travels - what to do if nobody cares... At first, I was afraid to ask due to language barriers or simply that tough, "I can do this on my own" thing. The result - anxiety, fear, loneliness. Traveling on weekends has taught me to reach out to others. I now even have people asking me for help and I try as I can. The chance encounters and brief interactions with truly wonderful people everywhere is infectious. Note to self - Letting go and realizing I will receive care is one of the most freeing experiences of my life.

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