Notes from ‘On Becoming A Leader’ by Warren Bennis – Chapter 3

  • People begin to become leaders at that moment when they decide for themselves how to be.
  • Know thyslef, then, means separating who you are and who you want to be from what the world thinks you are and wants you to be.
  • Self-knowledge/self-invention are lifetime processes.
  • NO ONE can teach you how to become yourself, to take charge, to express yourself, EXECPT YOU!!!
  • 4 Steps:
  1. You are your own best teacher.
  2. Accept responsibility. Blame NO ONE.
  3. You can learn anything you want to learn.
  4. True understanding comes from reflecting on your experience.
  • Learning is experienced as a personal transformation. A person does not gather learnings as possessions but rather becomes a new person. To learn is NOT to have, but to be.
  • Major stumbling blocks on the path to self-knowledge are denial and blame.
  • Create your own university. Try lots of experiences, only by experiencing them will you know which ones are useful and which are dead ends.
  • Full deployment is simply another way of defining learning.
  • Learning is much more than the absorption of a body of knowledge or mastery of a discipline. It’s seeing the world simultaneously as it is AND as it can be, understanding what you see, and acting on your understanding. Don’t just study it, embrace it, absorb it, and thereby understand it.
  • You can’t be afraid if failure to succeed at doing this .
  • Reflecting on experience is a means of having a Socratic dialogue with yourself, asking the right questions at the right time, to discover the truth about yourself and your life. (What really happened? Why did it happen? What did it do to me? What did it mean to me?) Helps in the process of “become the hammer, not the anvil”.
  • To begin to understand great literature is to understand that it’s a race against death. In a way, reflection is asking the questions that provoke self-awareness.
  • Nothing is truly yours until you understand it. Not even yourself. Until we understand why we are happy/angry/anxious, the truth is useless to us.
  • Understanding is the answer. When you understand, then you know what to do.
  • In order to use self-knowledge in practice, it is necessary to understand the effect that childhood experiences, family and peers have had on the person you’ve become.
  • Inner vs. Other- Directed people: Directed from inside or by peers/family/boss/etc.
  • Leaders are self-directed but learning and understand are the keys to self-direction, and it is in our relationships with others that we learn about ourselves.
  • Leaders learn from others, but they are not made by others. This is the distinguishing mark of leaders. The self and the other synthesize through self-invention.
  • In order to respond to the challenges of each cycle of your life appropriately, you have to continually re-examine your defenses and assumptions and in the course of that re-examination, you iron out the way…”Feelings are memories of past behavior. When you sort the out and see what’s current and what’s left over, you can begin to use your thinking process to change your behavior.
  • The unexamined life is NOT worth living (Socrates) (impossible to live successfully).
  • Leaders use their experience rather than be used by it.
  • Habits don’t just rule us, they inhibit us and make fools of us.
  • True learning begins with unlearning.
  • No one can teach you to be yourself/invent yourself. In fact, trying to do so usually accomplishes the opposite.
  • Teaching homogenizes its subjects and objects. Learning liberates. The more we now about ourselves and the world, the freer we are to achieve everything we are capable of.
  • [ (family + school + friends) / you = true you ] NOT    [family + school + friends = you]
  • Self-awareness= self-knowledge= self-possession= self-control= self-expression.
  • You make your life your own by understanding it.

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