Wisdom Day 28 August 2016: Quo vadis?

Lead good people down a wrong path
    and you’ll come to a bad end;
    do good and you’ll be rewarded for it. (The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 28, Verse 10, The Message,

Isn’t it amazing how right Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was?

L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. [What is essential is invisible to the eye.] (The Little Prince)

So what is important for a leader? Quo vadis? Where are you going? Actually, I should make it personal: Where am I going? Where am I taking folks? The real answer here is not some physical place. It may look that way, but it is not. It is not the top of the hill. It is not the end of the obstacle course. It is not graduation. It is not publication. It is not even money. Once I know why I am leading and where, only then should I focus on how.

A Sherpa guide isn’t just leading a climber to the top of Everest. The true goal is a thing of the heart. It indeed cannot be seen. Keep asking why. You will find out. If I ask, “Why are you climbing Everest,” and the climber says, “To get to the top,” we should both have a good laugh at the absurdity of the answer. Then we should keep going with the question “Why?” until why can not be asked any more.

Every day my five-year old daughter asks me why more times than I can remember. I either give her an answer that causes me to learn or an answer that is really no answer at all.

Whom do you lead? Why? “Quo vadis?”

Some resources for finding answers to where, why, and how leadership questions:




Allen’s Manifesto: Parenting

Last night I saw this post on Craigslist San Diego:

I need WordPress bloggers (Downtown San Diego ) I have a wordpress site I need someone who is an excellent writer to blog on my site about education events that are taking place in San Diego for kids. I am looking to hire several bloggers starting this week.

So I texted back:

I like WordPress and have Ph.D. in Ed.

This morning I’m thinking that liking WordPress and having a Ph.D. may be salient facts, but they are not my most important quals for blogging about education events for kids. Lots of folks have those quals but not the slightest clue about kids. The word manifesto came to mind. I need to share my manifesto to give the person behind the post a better idea of whether I meet the bill for the job or not. At the same time, I get to share some values with anyone who is willing to read on. So here goes with the first point of Allen’s Manifesto: Parenting. Future posts will deal with other points. I am passionate about parenting. Parenting is not just for biological moms and dads. It is for everyone. It is for you, no matter who you are: young, single, and never planing to have kids or at whatever stage in life where having kids is not on your agenda. Let me explain what I mean. I was a really little boy when a lady asked my a question. “What is your name, little man?” I ducked my head slightly. Timidly I glanced up sideways and replied softly, “Allen.” “Oh!” she exclaimed, as though she had just discovered some marvelous secret treasure, “That is a noble name. Allen is a name for a prince.”  From that moment I began to think of myself as noble. I wanted to walk like a prince, look like a prince, behave like a prince. I do not know who the lady was who first gave me the clear idea that I was princely. She was visiting my Aunt Florene’s house on Ledbetter Drive in Dallas, Texas. Those details remain clear. I hope that some day her identity will come in to focus from the depths of memory. But whatever her identity, she blessed me for life with just a brief exchange. For a few moments in my young life, she was a parent to me. Years after the mystery lady bestowed upon me the royal rank of  prince, I was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris studying at La Sorbonne. I discovered Le petit prince in the original. Antoine de Saint Exupéry first published Le petit prince in 1943, the same year my parents published me into the world back in Dallas.  The princely thread goes on. Remember Viola Davis in her role as Abileen Clark in the movie The Help?

You is smart. You is kind. You is important.

Whoever you are, wherever you go, let kids know they are royal, they are smart, they are kind, and they are important. Nothing is more important. Let them know it. Treat them that way. Talk to them that way. Weave a thread into their lives that will go on and on, carrying your gift forward well after you are no longer earthside.