Leading from the Center
Nick Offerman – aka Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec – has become a history teacher of mine. I am in the middle of his second book, Gumption. It is a wonderful tale about the men and women of America that have lead well. His primary criteria of a leader is that they are one that shows gumption. Gumption is defined as ‘shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness’.
This book, which I am actually listening to (and is narrated by Nick which is as cool as the other side of the pillow), is stirring something in me. Hearing stories of the founding fathers – Washington, Jefferson and Madison, of Fredrick Douglas, Theodore Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Wendell Berry have caused me and to ask some basic questions… but the first and most pressing question is this:
Am I leading from the center?
The centered life is a life that is whole. It is focused. It is an integrated life. It is a life that has principles that keep it intact.
Maybe a better way of defining what a centered life is by naming what it is not. A centered is not scattered and blown about by the changing winds of the given day. It is not concerned with convenience, but with what is right, good and healthy. A centered life does not flip flop to save face, but is grounded.
I am facing many leadership decisions across the many areas of my life right now. In those decisions, I am seeing a lot of scattered-ness in the people I have the privilege of leading with. So what is the way through? How do you bring people to a good, healthy and right decision? How do you lead others towards the center?
I can proclaim this today as truth:
I am not for sure how to lead others to the center right now.
But I know if I am not living in a centered life, then it is impossible to lead others to center.
I am committed to finding ways to center myself.
I am committed to finding ways to be grounded in faith, hope and love.
I am committed to not settling for a non-centered, scattered life.
A pilgrim moving with gumption towards the center