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In Celebration of Idea – and Narrative

This September I had a unique opportunity to join people together from the intersection of the fields of my life’s work: business / leadership and psychology / psychoanalysis.

A few longtime friends and mentors in the field of psychoanalysis, Dr. Joe Lichtenberg (along with Mady Chalk), as well as Dr. Curtis Bristol and his wife Marie Drissel, all came to Detroit to spend time with me and my wife Carol, to walk the grounds of our home, to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Athletic Club downtown, and to celebrate “idea”. We were also pleased to be joined by a bright young leader in the education industry, Dr. Shawn Mahoney, one of my leadership mentees.

In addition to the wonderful conversation and amazing food and drink, we had the opportunity to discuss several upcoming publications, news of which I want to share here.

Celebration of Idea Through Narrative

Dr. Joe Lichtenberg wrote what I consider to be the definitive book on narrative, Narrative and Meaning: The Foundation of Mind, Creativity, and the Psychoanalytic Dialogue, a topic that I have been studying for 20 years and incorporating into my work with leaders and leadership teams. He humbled me earlier this year by asking me to be the Issue Editor for an upcoming issue of the Psychoanalytic Inquiry Journal, a topical journal for mental health professionals. To my knowledge, I may be the first non-analyst to guest-edit an issue of this prestigious journal, founded by Dr. Lichtenberg on principles of sharing “idea” with clear and plain-spoken writing on a topic in a safe “space” to disagree.

The upcoming journal edition on Narrative is well underway, with commitment for submissions from a variety of top psychoanalysts (including Dr. Bristol), as well as a contribution from Dr. Mahoney and Dr. Joseph Lichtenberg to reflect upon Narrative and how the principles are applied in business and education in her experiences in the industry.
In celebration of idea and narrative

The weekend offered a perfect opportunity to discuss the journal and share our ideas as they relate to how we perceive our own stories and share them with others, in both our personal and professional lives. Here are a few pictures from the weekend: 

Celebrating Dr. Lichtenberg’s Birthday and Upcoming Publication 

In addition to celebrating idea, we had the pleasure of singing “Happy Birthday” to Dr. Lichtenberg: 

Dr. Lichtenberg turns 93

We surprised Dr. Lichtenberg with a cake in celebration of idea AND his 93rd birthday at the Detroit Athletic Club.

I’m sure the birthday ritual will be repeated in another language when I am with him at the upcoming meeting of the IAPSP International Conference on The Psychology of The Self, in ViennaAustria.

During our weekend in Detroit I also enjoyed an in-depth conversation with Dr. Lichtenberg about his upcoming publication, news of which I will post to our blog when it is published in November. I am eagerly preparing to read the galley to further explore concepts of narrative – to continue my commitment to study the simple, common, timeless human truths about life. 

Follow me to stay in the loop on these and other upcoming publications – sign up for our blog here, or follow me on Twitter and Caruso Leadership on LinkedIn. 

Those Who Journey Inward Find Greater Success

“The genesis of many of our problems is that too many of us are peering into the murky future of our secondary world, hoping that there will be something “out there” to finally make us happy.

But in fact, we ought to be looking inward, because the source of true happiness is always available to us. It lies in how we choose to respond to those external circumstances — in our ability to understand, accept, and manage ourselves. This is what will determine how we go about finding our meaning and what kind of higher meaning we can find for ourselves.”

Joe Caruso, The Power of Losing Control, Chapter 8

A compelling quote from Agnes Repplier on taking this journey:

Understanding the why behind the what of our own person (our character) is a key step on this journey:

Define Yourself

More About Turning our Journey Inward to a Higher Meaning

Or, get the book!

This content is excerpted from Joe Caruo’s best-selling book, The Power of Losing Control, Chapter 8: Cherish the Chase as Much as You Treasure the Trophy. Get the book!

How Do You Respond Rather Than React

In my work with leadership teams and developing young leadership talent, it is true that those who experience the greatest growth and success are the individuals that commit to the process. A decision without a commitment can often end in less than optimal results or even failure. (More about decision vs. commitment).

Many of my clients are CEOs and senior-level leaders. They live in a world of incredible pressure to reach their goals with market challenges and internal conflicts flying at them at great speed. In this fast-paced business environment, it is easy and even understandable to take a reactive approach. But as all great leaders (and great parents and great teachers) learn, it is always better to respond than react.

Read more »

The Importance of Context. Period.

(Context is the general that lends meaning to the specific.)

Sound bites. Headline grabbers. Head-turning quotes. All in the hope that the content goes viral. This is what drives today’s “news”.

While these dramatic, if not misleading headlines might pull eyeballs, turn ears and gain air time with their shock value, they do a huge disservice to those of us trying to find news where we can get facts, figures, as well as interpretation and analysis by an ‘expert’ in the field. [Of course many of us know enough to understand that bias always plays a role, and you must always consider the source…as discussed in my previous article about bias and fact vs. fiction].

In a day and age where Russian bots influence what’s trending, spin gets typed up in 280 characters or less, and the term ‘fake news’ is bandied about when someone doesn’t like what they are hearing, it is refreshing to see reporting that is grounded in fact, understands historical context, and attempts to acknowledge the culture.

Read more »

Another Storytelling Device to Know

This article is about a storytelling device known as a macguffin. As you enjoy reading about how film directors and writers have used macguffins for years, possibly in some of your favorite movies, try to keep track of how many times I use the word “good” in the article below.

A Storytelling Device To Move the Plot Forward

A macguffin is described as a plot device that propels a story forward. A macguffin can be an object that is valuable in and of itself such as a diamond, an artifact or an expensive piece of artwork. Or the macguffin can be valuable in that it is an object or person of interest, such as something containing valuable data or secrets. A macguffin can also be an ideal such as power, love, or glory.

Examples of Macguffin

Read more »

Humans Seek Happiness Above All Else

We Seek Happiness, But Happiness, Like Success, is Elusive

Above any other goal, humans seek happiness. Aristotle came to this conclusion more than 2,300 years ago when he reasoned that happiness is sought for its own sake, whereas every other goal – health, wealth, power and others – is only valued because we expect that it will bring us happiness.

While much has changed since Aristotle came to this conclusion, one could argue that we are no closer to understanding and teaching the path to happiness than the ancients. That is Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s argument in a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-hi) states that happiness,

“…is not something that just happens. It is not a result of good fortune or random chance. It is not something that money can buy or power can control.  It is, in fact, a condition that must be prepared for, cultivated and defended privately by each person.”

To seek happiness is to grab water. Not only do we feel continually frustrated by our failure, we also feel miserable in the process. Another way to state this: happiness is a byproduct, not an end product.
Read more »

Organizations Must Commit to Find and Grow Leaders

A case for more organizations to identify and grow leaders from within. How does one ever know their capacities until they’re tested?

A common complaint from senior-level management in many companies is the lack of leadership skills demonstrated by their employees, which they note as:

  • independent thinking
  • creative problem-solving
  • analytical thinking
  • effective communication

When I assisted a Los Angeles-based client with this issue, I began by looking for the future leaders within the company. I was looking for employees who might currently be underutilized, untested, underdeveloped or even unseen.

Read more »

Getting a Handle on All the Hate

“Understand that all of your emotions are based in either fear or love.”
– Joe Caruso, Success Strategy #2

“Know that you can’t experience hatred without also experiencing fear.”
-Joe Caruso, Success Strategy #35

When we understand that all of our emotions stem from either fear or love, we can begin to acknowledge how our insecurities and fears determine how we might respond to people or events in our lives. When we feel hate, or respond with hatred, it is always based in fear. This begs the question – what is it that we fear, and why do we fear it?

Read more »

The Immaculate Perception Myth Creates a Leadership Vacuum

Many business owners tell me that the biggest challenge they face is a “leadership vacuum” within their organizations.  They usually identify the following problems at two different levels within the organization:

  1. Their senior level managers, while competent overall, are lacking skills in one or more critical areas: knowledge of the business, capacity to lead, or ability to create and/or implement vision and directives.
  2. The mid-level managers perform their duties quite adequately but fail to demonstrate consistent capacities to think strategically, and then communicate those strategic decisions with others.

While it’s true that “you can’t send ducks to eagle school,” it has been my experience that more often than not, the managers that lack a few critical skills can be developed into fine organizational leaders and strategic thinkers. However, the solution isn’t as easy as having them sit through a training course on strategic thinking or leadership. The real solution consists of changing the driving myths of the culture in which these managers operate.

Read more »

The Risk of Avoiding Risk

I recently had the honor of addressing 700 Navy attorneys (both civilian and military) on the topic of leadership in a time of change. Immediately before my talk, the Acting Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Sean J. Stackley, addressed the audience on the main context for the event – ‘Gamechangers: Transforming the Present and Future.’

“Don’t avoid risk. You’ll get nothing done. Understand risk and manage risk.”

Acting Secretary of the Navy Sean J. Stackley

It’s difficult to talk about change without bringing up the concept of risk. Why? Because of our natural human tendency, based on the way our minds function, to operate in a sameness pattern. We resist change, which generally means we avoid taking risks. The well-worn pathways of our brain’s neural networks feel as natural as our most comfortable pair of blue jeans. Why change what is comfortable? Read more »