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Cosmos and the Forgotten Power of Wonder

Dr. Foster Mobley // Education, History, Wisdom Leading

Were you one of the millions dazzled by the original Cosmos? Back in 1980, the late, great Carl Sagan took us on a journey through space and time, black holes and molecules. Recently, a marvelous reboot of Cosmos, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, reintroduced a new generation to the wonders of science, the universe...and wonder. Wonder. Awe. They're among the most primal, elevating human emotions. When we're kids, we have them in spades. We're easily stopped short by everything from a bloom of Fourth of July fireworks to a firefly in a jar. It's easy to take our breath away and make us stop and ask: Why? How? What if? School, adulthood and responsibility replace our wonder with a seen-it-all cynicism. Worse, in the Age of the Internet we think we really have seen it all. That does more than rob us of the capacity to be amazed and overjoyed by the humble. It shuts off our ability to live in the moment and to see the people around us in all their glory. Each of us is a form of magic. If we want to inspire each other to dream and create, perhaps part of our organizational strategy should be rekindling wonder. Go and binge-watch the new Cosmos on NetFlix. Better yet, go outside on a clear, moonless night and look at the stars. Really look. Be present, like a child. Ask "Why?" I think you'll find that wonder is still there, just beneath the surface, waiting to awaken. How do you cultivate wonder for your people?

Were you one of the millions dazzled by the original Cosmos? Back in 1980, the late, great Carl Sagan took us on a journey through space and time, black holes and molecules. Recently, a marvelous reboot of Cosmos, hosted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, reintroduced a new generation to the wonders of science, the universe...and wonder.

Wonder. Awe. They're among the most primal, elevating human emotions. When we're kids, we have them in spades. We're easily stopped short by everything from a bloom of Fourth of July fireworks to a firefly in a jar. It's easy to take our breath away and make us stop and ask: Why? How? What if?

School, adulthood and responsibility replace our wonder with a seen-it-all cynicism. Worse, in the Age of the Internet we think we really have seen it all. That does more than rob us of the capacity to be amazed and overjoyed by the humble. It shuts off our ability to live in the moment and to see the people around us in all their glory. Each of us is a form of magic. If we want to inspire each other to dream and create, perhaps part of our organizational strategy should be rekindling wonder.

Go and binge-watch the new Cosmos on NetFlix. Better yet, go outside on a clear, moonless night and look at the stars. Really look. Be present, like a child. Ask "Why?" I think you'll find that wonder is still there, just beneath the surface, waiting to awaken.

How do you cultivate wonder for your people?

7.7.14 0
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My Graduation Speech

Dr. Foster Mobley // Education, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Tis the season for high school and college commencement speeches, which means it's time for millions of graduating seniors to roll their eyes in boredom. Who can blame them? The typical graduation speaker is somebody the students have never heard of. He or she delivers predictable lines about "being the future" and "believing in your dreams" to people who only want to get out of their hot caps and gowns and go party. I get it. But one of these days, I'm hoping I'll be honored with a request to deliver a commencement address-perhaps even to my alma mater, UCLA. If I am, I won't talk about dreams and careers and the future. I won't bury my audience in boring clichιs. I'll talk about wisdom, and these are some of the points I'll make: • Listen twice as much as you talk. People want to tell their story. • Accept that achieving the life you really want will be ten times harder than you can possibly imagine today. • Go after that life anyway. • Tools change. People don't. Integrity and character still move mountains. • You're entitled to air, space, and freedom of speech. That's all. • Don't worry about being famous. Strive to be respected. • Slow down, wait, and listen. There are wonders to be found in silence. • Be present. Don't tweet about the past or text about the future. • Regardless of their politics, 99.9% of people want the same things you do: love, family, health, purpose, peace and prosperity. What would you say to a graduating class?

Tis the season for high school and college commencement speeches, which means it's time for millions of graduating seniors to roll their eyes in boredom. Who can blame them? The typical graduation speaker is somebody the students have never heard of. He or she delivers predictable lines about "being the future" and "believing in your dreams" to people who only want to get out of their hot caps and gowns and go party. I get it.

But one of these days, I'm hoping I'll be honored with a request to deliver a commencement address-perhaps even to my alma mater, UCLA. If I am, I won't talk about dreams and careers and the future. I won't bury my audience in boring clichés. I'll talk about wisdom, and these are some of the points I'll make:

  • Listen twice as much as you talk. People want to tell their story.
  • Accept that achieving the life you really want will be ten times harder than you can possibly imagine today.
  • Go after that life anyway.
  • Tools change. People don't. Integrity and character still move mountains.
  • You're entitled to air, space, and freedom of speech. That's all.
  • Don't worry about being famous. Strive to be respected.
  • Slow down, wait, and listen. There are wonders to be found in silence.
  • Be present. Don't tweet about the past or text about the future.
  • Regardless of their politics, 99.9% of people want the same things you do: love, family, health, purpose, peace and prosperity.

What would you say to a graduating class?

6.10.13 0
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A Different Take on the Election

Dr. Foster Mobley // Education, History, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Q: How have you seen hurdles turn into energy sources for change? In the wake of Tuesday night's election, there are as many potential lessons as there were electoral votes. One stands out for me, and it has nothing to do with politics: people are more motivated by passion than they are limited by difficult circumstances. In states like Florida, Ohio, New York and New Jersey, technical problems, confusing laws and the damage from Hurricane Sandy made voting an ordeal for millions of people. Given the supposed cynicism about politics these days, you would think that voters would stay away from the polls in droves. Instead, they waited in line for hours, deep into the night. In leading others to evoke peak performance, great leaders often work to help others eliminate obstacles and difficulties. You've heard me extol the importance of "removing boulders." At the same time, let's not forget that facing challenges can motivate people to overcome and exceed their limits like nothing else.

Q: How have you seen hurdles turn into energy sources for change?  

 In the wake of Tuesday night's election, there are as many potential lessons as there were electoral votes. One stands out for me, and it has nothing to do with politics: people are more motivated by passion than they are limited by difficult circumstances.

In states like Florida, Ohio, New York and New Jersey, technical problems, confusing laws and the damage from Hurricane Sandy made voting an ordeal for millions of people. Given the supposed cynicism about politics these days, you would think that voters would stay away from the polls in droves. Instead, they waited in line for hours, deep into the night.

In leading others to evoke peak performance, great leaders often work to help others eliminate obstacles and difficulties. You've heard me extol the importance of "removing boulders." At the same time, let's not forget that facing challenges can motivate people to overcome and exceed their limits like nothing else.

11.12.12 0
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Showing up Receptively

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Education, History, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Q: Where would you go if your world were bigger? Years ago a small group of designers and engineers thought everyone should have their own loom to make their own fabric. Most of their colleagues insisted that even if they could make it, nobody would want one. Looms are machines for big business, not individuals. Nevertheless, this small affiliation of creators kept making prototypes until people started actually buying them. Eventually most of America had one. Of course, all this is true except for the loom part. Instead of the loom the personal computer is the real invention. But, the struggle was the same, and the critics weren't wrong. There was no market for a home-based computer. Gates, Jobs, and others who created the personal computer market had what we call a Receptive Worldview. Where most saw no market they saw opportunity; where most saw walls they saw break through. Having a Receptive Worldview means releasing your judgments and limits on situations and people. It feels risky, but with out it we may never really break though.
Q: Where would you go if your world were bigger?

Years ago a small group of designers and engineers thought everyone should have their own loom to make their own fabric.

Most of their colleagues insisted that even if they could make it, nobody would want one.  Looms are machines for big business, not individuals.  Nevertheless, this small affiliation of creators kept making prototypes until people started actually buying them.  Eventually most of America had one.

Of course, all this is true except for the loom part. Instead of the loom the personal computer is the real invention.  But, the struggle was the same, and the critics weren't wrong.  There was no market for a home-based computer.

Gates, Jobs, and others who created the personal computer market had what we call a Receptive Worldview.  Where most saw no market they saw opportunity; where most saw walls they saw break through.

Having a Receptive Worldview means releasing your judgments and limits on situations and people.  It feels risky, but without it we may never really break though.

 

4.9.12 0
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And the Walls Fall Down

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Education, History, Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Q: What about you are you both afraid and eager for others to know? Theologian and philosopher C.S. Lewis once said that our greatest fear and our greatest desire is to be known. To really be known we must break down the walls separating our "outside" selves and our "inside" selves. So, what would that look like? Well, it might look something like Roberto Benigni on Oscar night in 1998. Benigni won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Life Is Beautiful. When his name was called, Roberto's walls fell away: he jumped on seats, shook strangers' hands, hopped up the stairs like a little boy and, in heavily accented English, spoke profusely about joy and gratitude. Everyone watching him immediately knew Roberto Benigni inside and out. Letting our walls fall away to be truly known can be scary. But, the less we hold our true selves back the better others can know us and the better we can know ourselves. And, we get even closer to real breakthough leading. (Want to see falling walls for yourself? Watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs)
Q: What about you are you both afraid and eager for others to know?

Theologian and philosopher C.S. Lewis once said that our greatest fear and our greatest desire is to be known.  To really be known we must break down the walls separating our "outside" selves and our "inside" selves.  So, what would that look like?
 
Well, it might look something like Roberto Benigni on Oscar night in 1998.  Benigni won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film for Life Is Beautiful.  When his name was called, Roberto's walls fell away: he jumped on seats, shook strangers' hands, hopped up the stairs like a little boy and, in heavily accented English, spoke profusely about joy and gratitude.  Everyone watching him immediately knew Roberto Benigni inside and out.
 
Letting our walls fall away to be truly known can be scary.  But, the less we hold our true selves back the better others can know us and the better we can know ourselves.  And, we get even closer to real breakthough leading.
 
(Want to see falling walls for yourself?  Watch here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cTR6fk8frs)

12.26.11 0
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Being on the Cutting Edge Isn't Enough

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Education, Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

Q: Is your wisdom helping you wield your cutting edge? Are knives good or bad? "Well," you may think, "that depends on who's using them." Indeed. A scalpel in the hand of a skilled surgeon is a wonder to behold. However, in the hands of a fool it is a colossal danger. We can think of the scalpel as representing intelligence. Made of our education, our skills, and even our talent, intelligence is a great competency to have. But, intelligence without wisdom can be dangerous. Your success is certainly due, in part, to your intelligence. But, we must seek to increase our wisdom as well. Knowing how to wield our intelligence makes it a truly useful tool, not a destructive one.

Q: Is your wisdom helping you wield your cutting edge?

Are knives good or bad?  
 
"Well," you may think, "that depends on who's using them."  Indeed.  A scalpel in the hand of a skilled surgeon is a wonder to behold.  However, in the hands of a fool it is a colossal danger.   
 
We can think of the scalpel as representing intelligence.  Made of our education, our skills, and even our talent, intelligence is a great competency to have.  But, intelligence without wisdom can be dangerous.  Your success is certainly due, in part, to your intelligence.  But, we must seek to increase our wisdom as well.  Knowing how to wield our intelligence makes it a truly useful tool, not a destructive one.
 

11.21.11 1
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams