John McCain quintessential leader

John McCain, United States Senator from Arizona, died on August 25, 2018, a little more than a year after being diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive, and always fatal, type of brain cancer.

Senator McCain’s life could have been much different then it turned out to be. He grew up in a very elite and privileged world, and one that afforded him the opportunity, if he chose, to live for himself. Senator McCain didn’t do that.

Read the rest of this entry »

daddy-young-man-1If my dad were still alive, he’d turn 90 next month. That sounds really old to me, but I am reminded that he and my mom came to parenthood later in life, after he’d almost finished his veterinary degree and after several years of heartbreaking miscarriages, the last of which almost killed my mom.

After Dad and Mom realized they wouldn’t be able to have biological children, they still wanted a family, so they decided to adopt children and love them as their own. Read the rest of this entry »

Are we unquintessential leaders in the way we parent our children?The first relationship that children will – or should – experience leadership (both as a role and as a role model) is with their parents.

In our society, many parents have abdicated this leadership role – in spite of having experienced it, albeit imperfectly at times, themselves as children – in favor of being friends with their children. 

This is unquintessential leadership at a core level (it is also parental neglect) and it, just as quintessential leadership aims to grow quintessential leaders as its legacy, produces a new generation of unquintessential leadership that is even worse than the one before it.
Read the rest of this entry »

Hacks lead to poor quality, and, in the long run, cost more in time, effort, and moneyOne of the best summaries I’ve read on the etymology of the word hack appeared in The New Yorker a few years ago.

The word itself generally has, in historical terms, a negative connotation (which is why programmers who try to break into networks and/or computers are known as hackers), and, since in reality its results are, for the most part, negative, that’s how we’ll look at the word in this article.
Read the rest of this entry »

The Hatred of PoetryThe Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I, too, dislike it.
Reading it, however, with a perfect
contempt for, one discovers in
it, after all, a place for the genuine.”
Poetry – Marianne Moore

Usually, when reading a book, I have a strong sense of its theme.

However, with Lerner’s book, I had to take time to process and analyze it before I realized what his point is: poetry, by its very nature, is both subjective and personal to the reader and whether we like or dislike a poem (and/or a poet) is based on our unique interaction with it (and/or the poet).

Like Lerner, I am also a poet. I had one poem that somebody thought was good enough to be published while I was working on my undergraduate degree. The rest of my poetry is private. It resides on my computer or in boxes in storage, to be kept or thrown away by whoever disposes of my stuff when I die.

I don’t expect anyone to keep my poems. They are, after all, simply the thoughts of my imperfect mind, expressing my imperfect heart, and revealing my imperfect soul.

And that is Lerner’s point in this book.

Lerner – and he is also a poet – and I don’t agree on our taste in poets, except for Emily Dickinson.

Lerner lauds, for example, Keats’ four odes as the closest thing to perfection in poetry, while I’m kind of ho-hum about Keats (and the odes), but give me Coleridge’s Kubla Khan and I’m all in.

Lerner goes on and on about how wonderful Walt Whitman is as a prose poet (I strongly dislike Whitman intensely for many reasons).

But then Lerner brushes by T. S. Eliot (one of my favorite poets) with a mere sentence or two, which, to me, seems to say this is one of the poets (and poetry) that Lerner doesn’t like.

And – to be fair, this is a very short book, so Lerner couldn’t deal with every poet out there – there’s no mention of Robert Frost (another of my favorites), although he pays homage to Ezra Pound.

There’s a lot of great poetry out there.

My tastes also run from John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost to the World War I war poets to Edward Arlington Robinson’s Richard Cory – no matter how many times I read this, the end still hits me in my gut – and Gwendolyn Brooks’ We Real Cool, as well as some of the poetry written by Edgar Allen Poe, Phillip Larkin, Donald Justice, and Langston Hughes (although I love Shakespeare’s history and drama plays, I’m not a big fan of his poetry – or even any of the poetry of his contemporaries within a hundred years on either side of him), to name a few.

But whether we believe the poetry (and the poet) is great or not depends on us (the internal us – something deep inside us hooks us to the poetry we love) and there will never be two people on the planet who will be hooked up to all the same poetry, for all the same reasons, in exactly the same way.

And that, I think, Lerner and I can agree on, is why poetry matters and why poetry is important.

View all my reviews

Quintessential leaders have character traits that distinguish them among people in leadership positions. While quintessential leaders have imperfections, make mistakes, and sometimes fail spectacularly, these character traits define how they handle themselves in both the worst of times and the best of times. Read the rest of this entry »