Authors (Eds.): Marshall Goldsmith, Beverly Kaye and Ken Shelton

Publisher: NB Publishing, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-1857885576, 178 pages

The Learning Network (TLN) is an organization of management and organization authorities, development experts and learning leaders. TLN asked 100 thought leaders–among them Jim Collins and Warren Bennis–to describe their most notable learning experiences. From these accounts, editors Marshall Goldsmith (also a panelist for The Washington Post’s On Leadership), Beverly Kaye and Ken Shelton assembled an inspiring collection of 35 “learning journeys,” divided into eight sections. Each narrative is a gripping personal story and provides excellent material for unexpected learning. getAbstract recommends this compilation to those seeking to build their capacities for learning and leadership.

To live is to learn

People learn best through experience, and experience creates stories that must be told. Each story concludes with a question to help you apply the tale to your own experiences. These invaluable lessons emerge:

· To be a great leader, first, lead yourself. You will learn best when you live your life in a meaningful, effective way. 

· The paths you choose make all the difference.

· The best students are the best teachers.

· You can’t understand or improve your life if you don’t “step back” and gain perspective.

· Life is a gamble, so take chances to get ahead.

· Learning often requires unlearning. You need an open mind to quest for knowledge.

· The more it hurts, the more you learn.

· Mentors can open your eyes.

“Developing self-knowledge”

Elizabeth Pinchot, co-founder of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, recounts her five years at an “experimental ecological farm.” During this period, Pinchot attended a lecture by E.F. Schumacher, author of the popular book Small Is Beautiful. Pinchot sat next to Margaret Mead, the great and formative cultural anthropologist, who died later that year. Mead was sleeping in her chair, wrapped in a navy blue cape, her grey hair the only evidence that the cape held a person.

Pinchot recognized the sleeping Mead and was excited to be next to her. However, Pinchot gave her attention to Schumacher, who spoke in a wise, gentle manner. Pinchot agreed with Schumacher, and was annoyed during the question-and-answer session when a woman dressed in designer finery did her best to debunk his speech. The stupidity of the woman’s comments and her air of presumed authority aggravated Pinchot. However, as a young woman in a room of “real grown-ups,” Pinchot did not challenge the obnoxious woman.

As the woman continued to hog the floor and pester Schumacher, a frustrated and angry Pinchot uttered a hostile remark under her breath. She immediately felt a sharp jabbing elbow in the ribs “from the dark-cloaked lump sleeping” in the next chair. Margaret Mead whispered: “Stand up and say your piece.” Inspired, Pinchot did. She will never forget Mead elbowing her to urge her to speak her mind. Years later, Pinchot knows that she still needs occasional prompting…


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