How George Schultz Nurtured Relationships

“What I remember most from George Schultz’s remarks and responses to questions was his metaphor of “gardening” for the conduct of foreign affairs. His point was that national interactions, like personal one, are relationships that need to be carefully tended. Watering and weeding are particularly important, he noted: ensuring that you pay enough attention to keep them flourishing and to observe and remove any problems that might arise early on.

“I have heard other leaders and entrepreneurs describe leading as gardening, in the sense of growing talent, but the Schultz view was far broader. I can just imagine him sitting in the grandeur of his office and reception room on the seventh floor of the State Department, surveying the world and tending U.S. alliances, friendships, and even rivalries with care.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, “A Personal Tribute to a Public Man,” Princeton Alumni Weekly, April 2021, p 49.

Good Quotes 2021

“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

–Mother Teresa

“We will need to understand that the most power stories get told, not in books and newspapers, but in the everyday world of work. Whether managers know it or not, every decision they make suggests a story to the rest of the enterprise.”
–Robert Reich, Harvard Business Review (2001)

“But the first time I drove through the inner city of West Philadelphia, I was shocked. It was not mere poverty. It was the sense that these were a people who had been forgotten.”
–Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“It is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events of our daily life.”
–Thornton Wilder on Our Town

“It is we who must train ourselves to identify the beautiful, rather than that beauty should conform to our ideals.”
–Donna Ladkin on Immanuel Kant in Rethinking Leadership

“Nothing is a greater impediment to being on good terms with others than being ill at ease with yourself.”
— Honoré de Balzac

“You cannot understand a system until you try to change it.”
–Kurt Lewin

A Leader Must Hear People’s Pain

During the George Floyd Protests, we are hearing amazing reflections from around the world about what humanity should strive for. In a speech on 2 June 2020, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti talked about the role of leaders.

I joined organizers on the streets of our city just outside here in City Hall. I know I am the mayor, so I know some people will be happy to see me and others might be upset at this moment and needed to yell at me. And both of those things happened.

That’s part of what you do as a leader. You step forward to hear people’s pain, to try to understand it and never dismiss it. And try to offer more than a voice forward, but steps forward. To understand that Peace is not just built as a request, but it is earned when we embrace the idea of Justice.

Universe versus Journey

“The comparison between Dante [and Milton] may be misleading. Dante is telling the story of a spiritual pilgrimage – how one soul fared in is passage through the universe and how all may fear and hope to fare. Milton is giving us the story of the universe itself.”

C.S. Lewis, A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942), as found in Paradise Lost: Norton Critical Edition, edited by Gordon Teskey (New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 2005), p.. 438.

This view of “universe” versus “journey” is an great way to view many stories, fiction or non-fictional. Particularly in Science Fiction and Fantasy, there is discussion of “world building” and how that balances with character development.