Edwin Friedman, the renowned leadership guru, counselor and rabbi, slaved over a draft of a new book right up to the day of his death. After his untimely death his wife and a group of friends and colleagues sought to share his insights to a waiting audience who needed the light from his soul to navigate these uncertain times.
The entitled the book, “Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of Quick Fix.” In this insightful book based on years of conversations and insights into system’s theory, Friedman calls on leaders to be daring and courageous in an age when fear and anxiety rule. In an age colored by terrorism, the masses long for safety and security, when the age calls for bold bravery in the face of evil.
Jesus speaking to his critics about his tendency to color outside the lines declared:
“Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” (Matthew 9:17 ESV)
Friedman joined Jesus in the chorus calling on leaders to be imaginative and courageous. I loved his quote that opened chapter one which read:
“The safest place for ships is in the harbor….but that’s not why ships were built”–Anonymous
I would have loved to have met the sailor or explorer who penned those words, better yet I would love to possess his or her spirit of adventure.
Speaking of a spirit of adventure Friedman pointed out that adventure in the “Old World” or “Old Wineskins” suggested that “imagination was cerebral” or in other words, creativity and imagination start in the mind, but he argued that real imagination in the “New World” or “New Wineskins” was “emotional”. He used the world “emotional” to speak of the winds of anxiety and fear that tend to grip the heart and the soul. He believed imaginative courageous leaders like say Columbus who set sail searching a new passage to India to amazingly stumble upon a new world are men and women who stare down their fears, silence their worries, and lay aside their anxieties because of their spirit of adventure.
Franklin D. Roosevelt knew something about this fearless spirit of adventure when in his first inaugural address he declared:
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself…
In a world filled with leaders playing it safe and coloring inside the lines and playing behind white picket fences, could it be Jesus is calling out a generation of leaders who dream big dreams, and use their imaginations to envision a whole new world of possibilities. Don’t let fear define you. Don’t allow your anxiety to have the final word. Be strong and courageous and set out on the seas seeking the adventure known only by those willing to risk and live.