The answer to how …

The work I do with leaders is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. One common question I hear, especially when leaders are struggling to hold others accountable or to change how they and their organizations work, is “How? How do I do this?”

It’s a seductive question and one I typically reframe within a larger context. I learned a lot from a master at doing this: author and consulting expert Peter Block. Check out his book The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters.

Here’s a taste to whet your appetite.

There is something in the persistent question How? that expresses each person’s struggle between having confidence in their capacity to live a life of purpose and yielding to the daily demands of being practical. … My premise is that this culture, and we as members of it, have yielded too easily to what is doable and practical and popular. In the process we have sacrificed the pursuit of what is in our hearts.

It has always struck me that I can write or speak the most radical thoughts imaginable. I can advocate revolution, the end of leadership, the abolition of appraising each other, the empowerment of the least among us, the end of life on the planet as we know it, and no one ever argues with me. The only questions I hear are “How do you get there from here? Where has this worked? What would it cost and what is the return on investment?” This has led me to the belief that the questions about How? are more interesting than any answer to them might be. They stand for some deeper concerns. So in this book, the starting point is to question the questions.

And he does so with great gusto, speaking to the everyday obstacles that get between us and what we most deeply desire and urging us often to balance what he calls “a life that works with a life that counts.”

If you read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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