Friday, February 17, 2006

Pursuing leadership transformation...

I'm supposed to be working on several writing tasks but I had to offer a quick post on a very interesting "ah-ha" I had this week. Darbi (daughter) attends Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. This church has a phenomenal minister - Dr. Craig Barnes. Whenever we visit Darbi, we go to church to hear Dr. Barnes and this weekend we have that opportunity. When we're not in Pittsburgh, I download the sermons he posts on the Shadyside web site. The February 12, 2006, sermon was titled "Making Change." This sermon included the exploration of "transformation" in ways that I had never considered.

The text used for the sermon was Romans 12:1-2, which includes the admonition by Paul "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed." Dr. Barnes explained that grammatically "conformed" is in the middle voice, which conveys that this is something we do to ourselves. In essence, "Don't conform yourself" means that we should not squeeze ourselves into the models that others and society have of us. In order to avoid conformity, we have to be transformed. This is where his analysis gets very interesting... Paul in this text used the word "metamorphou" which is the word from which metamorphosis is derived. Metamorphosis was used by Aristotle to describe his view of the essence of being. In other words, metamorphosis or transformation is potentially not about becoming something else or something new, it's about becoming what we really are or were meant to be.

Wow! What a realization... This interpretation might encourage us to look at transformational leadership, organizational transformation, or personal metamorphosis not as changing to something else but becoming more fully ourselves. Amorphous is not just being vague, it is something that cannot be formed. I know of few things that are truly amorphous - especially individuals or organizations. In reality, there is always something inside us or in our systems that is seeking to be realized. The truly transformational experience is to allow or encourage the process of becoming.

Your thoughts? Are you being transformed by your learning and leadership? Are the organizations you inhabit being transformed in their own image or in the image leaders presume they need to be? Hmmh?


Nikki said...

Hi Denny!!! This is a very interesting way to look at things. So many times in life it feels as if we're being asked to change ourselves and that's not so easy to do. Becoming more you, more like how you are supposed to be...this to me makes much more sense! Especially being in college, I find myself reflecting on my actions and thoughts and I hope that I'm revealing the inner me!

Denny Roberts said...

Nikki - I'm glad this made sense to you. It's not an earth-shaking idea but it changes the way we look at ourselves and others - much more respectful and appreciative of who we are rather than trying to be something we weren't intended to be.

I'm glad someone is checking out my blog. I don't post all the time - just when I think there's something important to say.

Take care,

Benjamin said...


On being and becoming is difficult. I am not so sure where to attribute this difficulty (internal, or external) though I feel it is based in the external and compounded in the internal. Psychologist, I am not; but I feel this may, in our era, most properly be the exposition of the danger of our "global society" viewpoint. (though I explicitly am aimicable to such viewpoint)

I think perhaps the growing number of things a person has to be insecure about directly effects such a "metamorphosis". That is to say the person gets so wrapped up in fulfilling the external that the internal is thusly abandoned.

"Just be yourself" has become perhaps the most loaded phrase in our society.

This may correlate to our previous electronic conversation on your blog to the transformation of the educational system -- for education has a strong role to play in the environment of transformationalism (or metamorphosis) of one becoming consequently, oneself.

I don't know so much that I have made sense in this. I am no psychologist or sociologist -- just an adolescent philosopher.

--Benjamin Alexander

Denny Roberts said...

Ben - Sorry we didn't get to complete our conversation at the Scholar Leader meeting last night. Once the rest of the community got there, we just jumped right into other stuff.

The question of becoming oneself is age-old as you know. As you say, this has perhaps become even more important in the modern age because we are bombarded with messages about who we should be - media, education, peer influence... Education has a very important role to play as it provides the harth, table, and commons that welcome exploration of self.

You talk about being an adolescent philosopher and I should acknowledge that I am simply an amateur philosopher. I don't know the details but I know that I've always loved the ancient stories of becoming - particularly Homer's The Odyssey. The Oddyssey is esentially a story of discovery of a world that was unknown by many in ancient times. I'm not sure today's world is any more unfamiliar and frightening than the places Odysseus visited. I do know that he was drawn to his journeys by very powerful forces - not unlike the forces that draw us to explore our modern world.

Besides Odysseus' travels, I also relate to his giving over the care of his son, Telemakhos, to Mentor while he was on his journeys. The kind of care that Odysseus advocated strengthened Telemakhos, allowing him to fully become that which he was intended to be. Odysseus was very concerned that no one take Telemakhos' self-determination and authentic being away from him.

This is the challenge of learning and of transformation - to become who we are meant to be through the encouragement of peers and mentors.