The Barrett Leadership Blog

The Barrett Leadership Blog allows those of you who have read my books or have utilized The Barrett Center for Leadership Development, LLC™ services another means to immerse yourself in the conversation of leadership and organizational development. Therefore, I encourage you to participate in an open and honest manner so that you can continue to develop your leadership from the inside out.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Purpose And Self-Actualization: A Leader's Guide And Introspective Query

Plato Pictures, Images and Photos

Socrates Pictures, Images and Photos


Most of us question our life's purpose or direction from time to time. Sadly, many of us are so preoccupied with the daily routines of life or navigating one crisis after another that we don't give our life's purpose or direction serious consideration. Even for those of us that do contemplate our life's purpose or direction, often times a void still exists. This void is deep in our soul and lays at the heart of our subconscious, becoming conscious every time life's distractions give way to those brief moments of clarity. In these moments of clarity, all is quiet, it is just us and our thoughts, dreams, and desires. These are the times when our subconscious allows those questions of purpose and direction to surface into our conscious mind. When that happens to you, what do you do? Do you run to turn on the television or jump on the telephone to distract yourself, hoping that the new stimuli will force these uncomfortable questions back into the recesses of your subconscious mind? Or do you get depressed and turn to mind altering drugs and self-destructive behavior to replace your fears of not knowing how to address these questions?

You may say to yourself, that you don't have these kinds of thoughts. No, you just simply go along with life and live day to day, not thinking about your purpose, future, or reason for existing. Well, I know that to be a lie. If this were the case, the majority of society would not turn to religion for meaning and direction, nor would people go to school in search of careers that they believe will give their lives purpose and meaning.

The truth is that most of society yearns for a greater purpose or understanding of what he/she could do to make his/her life more meaningful and purposeful. I have always lived my life inside of this introspective query. Ever since I was a teenager, I was not willing to accept poverty, violence, and despair as permanent conditions for my life. I believed that there was much more out there for me. I just had to do what was necessary to grasp it. Like many, I instinctively knew that my life (the way I wanted it to occur) was within my grasp. However, the problem is, most of us do not know what to do to grasp it. What is it that allows a select few in our society to attain the life they want, while the masses do not? Why can some of us identify our purpose and stay focused on it, while others can't even identify theirs?

The answer, those that attain the life they want do something most of us are too fearful to do, they allow their natural curiosity pertaining to their relation to the world guide their development/existence. I know I just said a mouthful, but think for a moment. When we look at world leaders, entertainers, artists, scientists, what do they all have in common? A natural curiosity that pushes them to try new and different things and to take risks and make sacrifices that most of us would shy away from. Instinctively we know that it is the willingness to try new things that leads to great new experiences, and it is the risk taking that provides the greatest rewards overtime, along with building a sense of confidence that most of us never develop. Eventually (even with the typical ups and downs of life), those that find themselves in this stage of human development, have realized self-actualization.

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory utilized a pyramid to demonstrate the ascending sets of needs that human beings work to fulfill as they move through their development. On the bottom of the pyramid are the basic needs, and as one fulfills these needs he/she ascends to the next level of the pyramid or the next stage of human development until he/she gets to the final stage (a stage that few human beings every get to: self-actualization). Now, I'm not going to delve into Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory in detail. I leave that research up to you, but I want to focus on self-actualization and how the ascension to this level of human development will lead you to uncovering your life's purpose.

Self-Actualization's Role In Finding Our Purpose
You see, what made me different from most of the people that I grew up with was not my "intelligence," no it was my willingness to follow my natural curiosity to new experiences until I found something that really caught hold of my spirit (my purpose). My curiosity led me to joining the United States Air Force, which took me all over the world in my late teens-early twenties, working for large and small companies, persevering through school to achieve a Ph.D., writing and publishing a book, teaching in college, buying a home, starting a family, and starting a personal leadership and organizational development firm. Now you must realize that all of these experiences were not in my predicted future, but unlike many of my childhood friends, I chose to ask, answer, and be guided by the answers to the following questions that constantly ran through my mind:

  • Am I happy with my life? If not, why?

  • Can I do better? If so, how?

  • What can I do to change my life for the better starting today?
I allowed my natural curiosity pertaining to my relationship with life guide my being and uncover my purpose. I think we all instinctively are aware of our ability to do this, but we allow fear and doubters to deter us from following our unique path and end up following the path that others have laid for us. Do you remember the main character of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy? Well, she had an purpose in mind (to get back to Kansas), but she allowed her natural curiosity to guide her because she did not know what she would encounter or how it would turn out as she took off on the yellow brick road to see the wizard (the individual that could help her achieve this purpose). All Dorothy knew was that she had to allow her natural curiosity guide her as she followed the yellow brick road. There were many times when the path seemed scary and dangerous, but in the end, she arrived exactly where she needed to be in order to get back to Kansas. Now ask yourself, where are you heading? Are you on the path to self-actualization, or are you on a stagnant path to unfulfillment? As with Dorothy in her journey, you have to surrender to your natural curiosity if you want to uncover your purpose and achieve your dreams. This includes becoming comfortable with not knowing, but continuing to explore and examine until you do know. You have to become comfortable with not understanding, but learn and internalize until you have an understanding. This way of living will lead you to unexpected, wondrous, and exhilarating places and experiences.

You may be saying to yourself, what is he talking about? I'm talking about self-actualization. I'm talking about living your life in such a way that you are fully self-expressed and are doing what inspires you. I'm talking about living a life that is in alignment with who you are and what you have identified (through the process of being guided by your natural curiosity) your purpose to be. Some of you may ask, how will I know what my purpose is? You will find out during your life's journey, one led by your natural curiosity. In time, you will learn what experiences makes your energy level rise, lifts your spirits, and fills you with excitement. But, you can only find this out through trial and error, which is what makes curiosity key. Only one's desire to know or learn something will make him/her push through failure/errors. I know that the thought of making a mistake scares many of you. Sadly, our society has made "safety" a priority, even though most of us are "safely" living a life that is unfulfilling. So, you have to make a choice, what kind of life are you going to live-a "safe" one without fulfillment or one with stops and starts from time to time, that will eventually yield self-actualization and a sense of purpose?

Understand that self-actualization is sustainable, unlike engaging in artificial and temporal highs such as drugs and alcohol. Facilitated by self-actualization, the activities within your life becomes your addiction. You begin living a life where you can't wait to wake up in the morning and continue what you were doing yesterday. You become filled with joy, as your life takes on the role of helping or assisting others, giving you that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Finally, you know that when you turn in for the night, you made a significant difference in the world, and that you will do the same tomorrow. This is self-actualization. This is living inside of your purpose. Sadly, few of us every reach this stage of human development or find our purpose because we are too consumed with the distractions going on outside of ourselves and not about what is going on within.

Do understand that self-actualization is not an end to your human development, but rather a high level conversation about who and what one has to do be fully self-expressed in this world. Throughout history, society has had great introspective thinkers such as Plato and Socrates, who asked thought provoking questions pertaining to humanity's interaction with life and its sense of purpose. We seem to have lost that inquisitive nature in our society, as we constantly consume a steady diet of entertainment and materialism. My question to you is, are these distractions providing you with the kind of life that you want, one where you are fully self-expressed, one where you can't wait for the next day to begin? If the answer is no, I challenge you to allow your natural curiosity to guide your life. I guarantee, that along the way, you will find what drives you and what inspires you, leading you to your purpose.

Take a look at the video below, it does a great job of explaining what you just read.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Have A Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!

thanksgiving Pictures, Images and Photos

Some may think that this is no time for leadership talk, but I strongly disagree, because today, we celebrate family and friendship, which are hallmarks of leadership. Without family and friendship, there is no community and no civilization, basically, no us.

With this in mind, I encourage you to support all of those that are working so hard to make this celebration of relationship, friendship, unity, and family, just that, a celebration. So, enjoy the day as well as the renewed bonding with family and friends that it often brings about.

Also keep in mind that regardless of the disagreements you may have with another, today is about creating and maintaining family, friendships, and community to further develop and improve relationships within our society.

How about a little turkey humor to get you into the Thanksgiving mood if your not already in one?

Funny, huh?

I'm hungry already. See you later.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What is Leadership? (Part 2): Desmond Tutu on Servant Leadership

Desmond Tutu takes a slightly different take on leadership. He focuses on what Robert Greenleaf coined as servant leadership (the process of leading for the specific purpose of serving those that you lead). This style of leadership is embedded in The Barrett Center's DNA.

Take a listen.

What do you think about servant leadership?

What would the world look like if we were all servant leaders?

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What is Leadership? : Part 1

As a leadership and organizational development consultant, I am always asked to define the term leadership. Many of my clients, colleagues, and friends have their own definitions of the term. Let us take a look at what some of you think leadership is.

What do you think leadership is?

Stayed tuned for What is Leadership ? : Part 2, where we will get Desmond Tutu's perspective on leadership.

Labels: ,

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Maslow's Hiearchy Of Needs: Part 2

maslow Pictures, Images and Photos

Here is another explanation of Maslow's Heirachy of Needs Theory:

Think for a moment, are you fulfilling your developmental needs?

Labels: , ,

Personal Leadership Development: Abraham Maslow's Hiearchy Of Needs-Part 1

abraham maslow Pictures, Images and Photos

Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory utilized a pyramid to demonstrate the ascending sets of needs that human beings work to fulfill as they move through their development. On the bottom of the pyramid are the basic needs, and as one fulfills these needs he/she ascends to the next level of the pyramid or the next stage of human development until he/she gets to the final stage (a stage that few human beings every get to: self-actualization). Pursuing self-actualization is a major componet of personal leadership development.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We Are Capable Of Amazing Things

Harriet Tubman Pictures, Images and Photos

fredrick douglass Pictures, Images and Photos

Martin Luther King Jr Pictures, Images and Photos

Mandela Pictures, Images and Photos

jesse jackson Pictures, Images and Photos

As a young African American man, I was moved to tears as I witnessed a black man become president of the United States. Even though our community has made tremendous strides in many areas, there are many areas that still require a great deal of improvement. This assessment made it difficult for me to see an African American winning the presidency in my lifetime. But, I am glad to see that I was wrong.

What does this victory mean to me?
As a young child of immigrant Jamaica parents, I experienced firsthand the struggles of poverty, which was and still is endemic to much of the world’s minority community. I witnessed drug dealers and drug users on my block’s corner. I witnessed violence in my schoolyard and on the trains as I made my daily commute to within the concrete jungle of New York City. I witnessed my mother struggle to raise three children in section-8 housing. Struggle was my worldview, my reality. Being treated as less than an equal citizen in this great country was commonplace to me as a young adult, as black men were often vilified in the media. However, I chose not to simply accept the status quo attributed to young black boys from the hood. Instead, I dared to dream and strive to be someone unlike anyone I had ever seen in my neighborhood. I wanted to be someone for which there was no blueprint, no role model. Maybe my will to succeed came from my learning, understanding, and appreciating the struggles, leadership, and achievements of my ancestors.

Throughout my life, I have studied, watched footage, and heard about the struggles of blacks from the slave trade, to life on the plantation, to segregation, to the fight for equality during the Civil Rights movement. I have always admired the struggle, courage, hope, sacrifice, and leadership of my people, and have always been amazed at those that access their inner strength when faced with great adversity. This knowledge of my ancestors' inner strength brought forth an awareness of my inner strength and a great sense of pride for all who have stood up in the face of adversity. For this gift, I must say thank you.

· Thank you, Harriet.
· Thank you, Fredrick.
· Thank you, Martin.
· Thank you, Nelson.
· Thank you, Jesse.
· And now, thank you, Barack.
· Thank you to all my ancestors as well as all of those who crusaded for equality and justice.
· Thank you for paving the road for me, as well as all of those that will come after me.
· Thank you for your sustained fight against oppression.
· Thank you for fighting for your dignity, which is what gives me mine.
· Thank you for teaching me that life is not always a pretty road, but amazing things can be achieved if you keep working towards a worthwhile goal.
· Thank you for sacrificing your life (in some cases) for that of future generations, so that we eventually witness something as amazing a black man rising to the most powerful office in the world.

I realize that it is now on our generation to keep pushing, just as you did. It is on us to redefine the perceptions that the world has about our community's desires and dreams. I would like to conclude by saying that even though there is still much work to be done, I hope that Barack Obama’s election has allowed some of your souls to rest in peace, as you as well as President-elect Obama have shown the world that through courage and leadership we can all do amazing things.

Please listen to the words of the song in this accompanying video.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Out And Vote Today

Vote Pictures, Images and Photos

Get out and vote today!

It's your right!

It's your duty!

It's important!

Labels: , ,