Friday, April 22, 2005

Max De Pree - A Mentor Among Mentors

Some of you are aware that I earned my Doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. As was the case with each of the schools I have been privileged to attend, I sat under some gifted teachers and mentors. Max De Pree stands out as one of the best! He taught a leadership class that I took as part of my doctoral studies. At the time, he was Chairman of the Fuller Board of Trustees, and was renowned for his enlighted leadership of Herman Miller Corporation.

Fuller recently honored Max for his 40+ years of exemplary leadership by inaugurating on campus the De Pree Leadership Center, and by dedicating the Winter 2005 edition of their Alumni publication, Fuller Focus, to Max and his role as a mentor.

In a series of linked articles, Max talks about mentoring, and several of his mentorees share their impressions. The principals that emerge stike me as the most concise definitions and explications of mentoring that I have seen anywhere. They are totally consistent with many of the themes I have been sharing in this Blog. I am pleased to share with you exerpts from Max and his mentoring progeny.

Max on mentoring:

"I have often played around in my mind with the exact nature of mentoring. It has similarities to, but is not exactly like, the role played by other sorts of advice givers: therapists, spiritual directors, pastoral counselors, coaches. But these roles typically are undergirded by a specific kind of professional training. Mentoring is a somewhat different thing (although, clearly, persons in these other roles may also provide good mentoring). In a mentor, one primarily looks not for professional credentials, but for wisdom."

Walter C. Wright, Jr. has been mentored by Max De Pree. Walter was recently named the Executive Director of the De Pree Leadership Center. Walter shares these thoughts about Max and mentoring:

"In his first book, 'Leadership Is an Art', Max included a chapter on 'Tribal Storytelling' recognizing that tribal elders are critical to the maintenance of shared values and the process of corporate renewal. With David Hubbard’s encouragement, he sat close to the fire at Fuller."

"From Max I learned that mentoring is something initiated and maintained by the mentoree. The mentor is available as the wise elder, sharing experience and asking the questions that create space for the mentoree to take responsibility for his or her own learning and growth. Mentors do not direct; they share wisdom, listen, and encourage reflection and accountability."

In the magazine's final article, Max writes about "Mentoring: A Work of Love"

"At its best, mentoring is a covenantal approach to life and leadership. I once heard a wonderful description of the work of a mentor: A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song."

"Mentoring takes place in many settings and at many levels. It cannot be reduced to a formula. All we can do is build a framework on which we can hang our experiences, gifts, and art in such a way that another person can interact with it, make sense of it, take ownership of it, and work at reaching new levels of humanity and leadership on their own. At its heart, mentoring might be described as witnessing."

"Mentoring is above all a work of love, which at its best is a two-way exchange. Though both parties walk away with priceless insights, both people come to each other intent on giving rather than taking. The immediate goal of mentoring is reaching toward potential. It thrives in community and prospers with risk—for nothing worthwhile arrives without risk. It thrives on the vulnerability of both mentor and mentoree. It focuses on the whys and wherefores in our work and our lives, not on the what and the how. Mentoring is about conjugating the verb “to be,” not the verb “to have,” to paraphrase the pianist Franz Liszt, himself a famous mentor. Mentoring is not a private management seminar. Its ultimate goal is to make mentors out of mentorees."

"Mentoring is about life-long learning."

"Several of the persons who call me mentor have decided to work together to further the practice of mentoring. At one of their sessions in June of 2002, they set aside a part of their meeting to thank me for helping them discover the best about themselves. In many ways, it was an embarrassing morning as one after another spoke in wonderful ways about our times together. Each of them brought me a unique gift that symbolized for them the very special relationship that mentoring can become. One person gave me a carabiner— a piece of mountain climbing equipment used to connect people by rope. This particular carabiner had been up Mount Everest over 18,000 feet and back down. The gift and accompanying words reminded me of the power and love and growth that spring from simple human connections."

To have sat as a student at the feet of Max de Pree for a few weeks in the warmth of a Pasadena summer was a privilege I will never forget. I encourage you to read any and all of the leadership books that he has written over the years. There is gold in every page.

If you wish to access the entire edition of Fuller Focus, click on the link below:
Fuller Focus Winter 2005


Tuesday, April 12, 2005


One of my regular Blog readers has passed along the amazing words below. This reader has asked to remain anonymous, so I share the words, recollections and feelings without the need for further comment or introduction:

Sunday April 3rd, 2005
Krakow, Poland

So, it has finally happened. Pope John Paul II has moved onward and upward.

Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name

Sitting on a bench in Krakow, I remain transfixed by an overwhelming feeling of emptiness. I am not sure exactly what I am supposed to be feeling right now. Perhaps what strikes me most at this moment is that the general atmosphere of this city is not somber, which is what I expected, but rather there hangs a combination of sanguine and celebratory vibes. This feeling is even more confused by the media carnival that is taking place in the midst of the Masses and the mourning and the masses of mourners.

For most people today is just but a sun-interrupted continuation of the vigil which began last night at approximately 9:37 PM Central European Time. This vigil sprang up not just in the cathedrals and places significant in the life of the Pope, but on almost every street corner, in every home, in every store and in almost every visible soul that wandered the broken streets of this city. Within minutes the city was ablaze with candles and buried in flowers.

I knew for a long time that THIS day would come, and I suppose I tried to prepare myself for such an occasion. But if this is indeed the case, I believe I have failed miserably. Nothing could have possibly prepared me for such a solitary, unifying and powerful event such as this. As I just heard one Polish man utter to another, this is the Polish Tsunami.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done

Seas of candles dancing on beds of roses; symbolizing love, light, life, and hope as well as the eternal promise of darkness and death. When I look into the myriad of faces that continue to roam the winding streets of this city in this ever expanding and evolving, daylight vigil, each face presents a new complex assortment of emotions. Love, respect, sadness, relief, indebtedness, overwhelming gratitude, heart wrenching pain, bittersweet confusion, and national pride are all emotions that seem to be shifting within each person as well as from person to person.

I have taken solace in one of the many ancient and peaceful cafes that populate this city, although nothing seems peaceful or ancient today. I sit next to a girl who is weeping into her mobile phone, undoubtedly seeking solace and vetting anguish to an equally distressed companion on the other end. Across the room, a man stares blankly into space, searching. Finally he has decided to mine the dregs of his beer breaking the monotony of his thought. I take a second to consider myself in this scene, in this city, on this day, in this bar; I feel as though I can’t think and I think as though I can’t feel. Not being Polish or Catholic, I finally feel completely out of place for the first time in six months in this my adopted city and country.

On earth as it is in heaven Give us this day our daily bread

Mass. Masses everywhere. Mass anywhere. Mass for people. Masses of people writing letters in the inner sanctum of what was John Paul’s private apartments when he was the Archbishop of the Krakow Metropolitan Diocese. Three year olds and eighty three year olds, side by side composing letters to heaven, allowing their bleeding hearts to shed ink on paper. I haven’t heard a word spoken in about a half an hour. Their words are written but for one, transcending time and space. Serene Silence. Perpetual Prayer.

And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us

I wrote a letter to his holiness as well. I was compelled to share some of my thoughts and prayers. I wrote about how much I revered and respected his work, albeit from a distance. And how only after moving to Krakow and experiencing the beauty, austere reality, endless struggles of Polish life, did my cynical heart and suspended spirit both spring too life. I wrote how I thought he was the embodiment of strength, resilience, compassion and piety, which are characteristics I have found to be ever present in the Polish People. I told him how confused I was about what to think or do about his passing and what to think about this crumbling, chaotic, and increasingly cruel world.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

Karol Wojtyla was a renaissance man. He was an actor, athlete, writer, scholar and soldier before he ever entered the church. Born in the small town of Wodowice, Poland in 1920, he first moved to Krakow in 1938 to begin his studies at the Jagiellonian University. At the outbreak of WWII, Wojtyla risked certain death at the hands of the Nazi occupiers, in order to continue his studies. He went into hiding and began studying theology at a clandestine Catholic University. After the war, Wojtyla continued his studies in Rome and other cities in Europe before returning to Krakow to join the Mission. Slowly but surely he worked his way up through the channels of leadership and responsibility within the Krakow church. Finally in 1964 Karol Wojtyla was appointed the Archbishop of the Krakow Metropolitan Diocese. He remained Archbishop from 1964-1978 and during this tenure he did much for the city as well as for the Polish people in general. He was a beacon of hope and strength for a country that was strangled by the iron fist of Soviet Communism. When Karol Wojtyla was made the first Polish Pope and consecrated John Paul II in 1978, he immediately became a beacon of light for the entire world.

On this day, April 3rd, 2005, one only needs to turn on a television or log on to see images of people from every single corner of the globe weeping, and praying, standing silent and swaying, singing praises and speaking of the amazing deeds and actions that this great man performed. This is one of the few men, perhaps in the history of the world, which transcended the intense dividing lines of politics, war, religion, spirituality, and nationality in order to deliver his message of hope and peace.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever

And the Vigil Continues on into the night. No end in sight.

No more words to write.


Anonymous Krakovian Expatriate

Monday, April 11, 2005

Eyewitness to History – A Report to Red Sox Nation

I just returned from attending the first World Series Ring Ceremony in Red Sox history. I was one of the lucky 33,000+ who got to ride the roller coaster of emotions that was better than any E-ticket ride that Disney Imagineers could conceive. I had heard about individuals paying up to $5,000 online for a ticket to this Opening Day extravaganza, so imagine my delight two weeks ago when Rod Oreste, Red Sox Manager of Publications and Archives, ended our luncheon discussion by reaching into his jacket pocket and handing me a Red Sox ticket envelope containing two ducats to today’s game. “Don’t let me catch you scalping these tickets,” Rod said with a knowing grin.

Sharing the tickets and the day with me was my friend, Darin Souza, currently an MBA student at Dartmouth/Tuck. Darin was one of the best hitters ever to play baseball for West Point, so it was fitting that he should be able to join me on a day when military veterans shone brightly on the diamond at Fenway.

The Red Sox threw open the gates to Fenway before noon – long before the traditional time for allowing fans access to the Park. Even the organization seemed to understand everyone’s need to milk as much from this special day as possible. Darin and I met for a quick gourmet meal at the Kenmore Square McDonald’s. We spent some time going over ideas for his nascent project – A New England Sports Hall of Fame to be built in Southeast Massachusetts. (Stay tuned for a full report on the NESHOF in the near future) We stopped so I could buy my obligatory bag of salted peanuts from the vendor on Yawkey Way. They taste much better out of a brown bag that was filled that morning with peanuts freshly roasted at Superior Nut in Cambridge than out of a plastic bag sold inside the stadium – a bag that may have been filled with peanuts and sealed when Jimmy Carter was still President!)

As we made our way to our seats, I stopped to share the time of day in Creole with several Haitian ushers I have come to know. Walking through the crowd, we fortuitously bumped into Red Sox President, Larry Lucchino, and exchanged a few words of congratulations. Darin and I took our seats and breathed in the electrically charged atmosphere. Around 2:15, the pre-game ceremonies began. My most vivid memories – in no particular order except stream of consciousness - included:

* Hearing the Boston Pops orchestra play in a steadily rising crescendo of strings, brass and timpani the haunting notes of Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra” (known to most people as the theme music to the film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”) as one by one, banners were lowered from the top of the Green Monster – World Champions 1903, 1915, 1916, 1918 . . . and then an enormous banner that covered the entire wall was lowered that screamed: “WORLD CHAMPIONS 2004!”

* Out from under that enormous banner came wounded veterans from Iraq – all native New Englanders whom the Red Sox players had met a few weeks ago. After they visited the White House, the Sox had stopped by Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit with Red Sox fans that had been wounded in action in the Gulf. They invited them to come to Boston to participate in today’s festivities. So they marched towards the first base line where the Red Sox owners awaited them. They had been entrusted with the honor of carrying the wooden boxes that contained the World Series rings about to be awarded. As these men and women neared the infield, it became apparent that some were still recovering from their wounds – one pushed himself in his wheelchair, several walked aided by canes, the others walked unassisted and walked in a dignified cadence accompanied by the dulcet tones of James Taylor, who stood with his guitar at Home Plate intoning “America the Beautiful.” There could not have been many dry eyes in the house. I wept unashamedly, and my warrior friend, Darin, even seemed to have a few drops glistening at the corners of his steely eyes. The moment was transcendent.

* The members of the 2004 World Champion team came one by one – in order of their longevity with the Red Sox. Terry Francona, fresh from his sabbatical at Mass. General Hospital, led the way. He was greeted with a warm, enveloping ovation. Curt Schilling elicited a particularly enthusiastic response, as did the appearance of Johnny Pesky – who first joined the Red Sox organization 64 years ago! Derek Lowe, now part of the LA Dodger’s starting rotation, in a very classy move, paid his own way to be there today to receive his ring. The fans bathed him in adulation.

* A moment of silence in memory of Pope John Paul II, followed by an additional moment of silence in remembrance of Red Sox great and recently deceased Dick Radatz - the beloved "Monster."

* Once the ring ceremony was completed, the 2005 New York Yankees were introduced; all were inundated with boos, catcalls, jeers and other verbal and non-verbal forms of expression peculiar to sports fans – all, that is, except for Mariano Rivera and Joe Torre. In recent days, Rivera has done his best impression of Byung Yung Kim, so Red Sox fans showed their appreciation for Rivera’s generosity by cheering him lustily. He responded with grace and humor, tipping his cap to the crowd and grinning broadly.

* The members of the 2005 edition of the Red Sox were introduced. As they made their way from the dugout to the field, they ran a gauntlet of Red Sox legends – from Dom DiMaggio and Bobby Doerr to Jim Rice and Yaz, Rico and El Tiante, Bill Lee and Jim Lonborg.

* It was time for the ceremonial first pitch to be thrown. Out from under the Left Field banner materialized Bill Russell – representing the best of Celtic World Championship tradition, Bobby Orr – the best hockey player ever to lace up a pair of skates and the greatest Bruin Champion, and New England Patriots Champs and Captains, Richard Seymour and Tedy Bruschi. Whatever reservoir of emotion we had kept in reserve was squandered in greeting these four as they made their collective way to the mound and threw four pitches that stitched together disparate franchises, generations, decades, venues and sports traditions into one vibrant crazy quilt that is Boston sports mania! How lovely!

Somewhere in there we sang the National Anthem, basked in the roar of Vermont Air National Guard F-15’s in a traditional fly-over, and heard 93-year-old Charlie Wagner implore: “Let’s play ball!”

Oh, yeah. There was also a pretty nifty baseball game. The defending World Champions rode the undulations of Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball to an 8-1 victory over the Evil Empire and Mike Mussina.

Wait ‘til this year!

I carried home a poster that WEEI was giving out that evoked one of my favorite lines from the film: “Field of Dreams.”