Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To my son on his wedding day

April 30, 2008

On the day you are wed:

You both know that I have worked hard to understand what it is that marriage adds to life. I have listened to hundreds of couples talk of their marriage as if it were a disposable toy. I have also met couples who see that marriage itself broadens and deepens not only their own life but creates a sanctuary that is indispensable for the children.

Of course there is fear: can we do it? Is he the right one? Is she too much trouble? There is fear of abandonment, fear of not being understood, fear of changing conditions. You’ll have your own serving of fears.

There is an old tale told about the lions in the vast savannahs of Africa. When the herds are coming, and therefore food, they pick the oldest lion one who is toothless and no longer good for the hunt. They send him to the opposite side of the savannah and as the herds approach he roars his terrible roar.

The young lions, positioned on the opposite side, wait. The herd runs away from the roar and toward what they think is safety… where a great many are caught and eaten.

The story tells us to “run towards the roar.” It is another way of saying “run toward your fear.” If you are stuck, if you think you are being misunderstood, if you think the other person is a jerk… run toward not away from your fear.
Embracing the fear (and the conflict) is a way of embracing your intention in marrying one another. There is no greater insurance to birthing a good marriage than daily embracing your love for one another.

You are in my arms, in my thoughts and in my prayers. God’s blessing on you both and on your children.
I love you,

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Authenticity in Leadership

Many people think leadership and marriage are two separate conversations. We see them as intertwined - You're as good a partner as you are a leader, as effective a leader as you are a partner. Here's a little piece on authentic leadership.

There's a lot of talk out there around developing the leadership of a company. What does that mean? There is of course, the need for a leader to be focused. That means he or she knows and understands the company vision as well as their own vision for the company. Focus is also about developing the capacity to stay on track, to drive goals and anticipate challenges.
We think leaders are people who know how to listen. Old idea? Yes. And brand new. We've learned a lot about listening in the past few years. Competency here means that a leader can 'tune in' to whoever is in front of them, can suspend their own assumptions while listening, can ask the speaker if they believe they are heard, and can use their talent to reframe the conversation in a positive proactive way. Listening is more than being respectful of the other. It's active. It's leading.
Leaders are people who have integrity and who know the difference between 'acting like a leader' and being a leader. A good concept here that many are talking about is the 'servant leader.' He or she is one who isn't focused on applause, approval or their own ego. They see the good of the shared mission of the company or organization as more important than than anything they are worried about.
When teaching leadership we use the twin ideas of legitimacy and the orphan. Legitimate leaders are centered, have a clear sense of who they are and what they're doing, are deeply respectful of others and believe in their own choice to lead. "Orphans" used in this context, doubt themselves and therefore ask others to prop them up. Orphans dramatize set backs and often blame others for their challenges. Orphan leaders really do not believe they belong in the position they themselves have volunteered for.
A good consultant will tune in to the real challenges of the leaders who hire them. We don't believe much in 'templates' for consultation, not because many templates aren't good, but because every leadership challenge is unique and therefore there is the need to listen in, articulate the challenges, create a language for reframing what's needed and finally, create a pathway that will grow the company.
Stephen Frueh PhD
805 338 4286

Monday, April 14, 2008

There are many fathers out there with young daughters. Most of you who emailed are in awe of them. I am too. But there's another thing to remember. Though leaving childhood, they are still children. Though growing in competence and independence, they are still needy of your love and healthy authority. Though experimenting with ideas, style and increasing freedom, they are still in need of boundaries.

Many daughters have told me this: "my father disappeared when I hit puberty." It's true. Many fathers are very uncomfortable with their daughter's emerging sexual presence. You'll have to overcome your fear and stand firm in your love and tenderness.

Daughters are a treasure, an ongoing learning community, a gift, and a source of continual nourishment. Enjoy the multi faceted richness they offer.


Saturday, April 12, 2008


My ten year old daughter, savy, energetic and tuned in has just turned the corner from sweet five year old who adores daddy to pre teen queen for whom daddy is a servant leader. She interrupts my sentences with "I know Dad!" and has ramped up her self definition to include "I'm not going there!" (as in not going to somewhere her mother and I are going).

She spends more time in front of a mirror, takes more care with choice of clothes, hangs out more with friends and is more curious about just about everything. She is, in short, a phenom.

This morning we flared at each other. That's what it was because it wasn't really a fight as much as a flare. Old school daddy doesn't adapt well to this sudden certainty she brings to about everything I talk about. There's some fear here for me. Am I already losing my importance in her life? Will she accelerate her embrace of her own individuality and fly out of our love and our life? Is this all I get of her childhood?

I have to stop, look and listen to get regrounded in what's happening. She is in a developmental swing. Going from the love of gnomes and fairies to the ever expanding world of friends, ideas and experiences - all new, all interesting, all exciting. She has a strong base in her mother's love and guidance and she is sure of my love for her and hers for me. That's not on the screen for her. That it is on the screen for me has a lot more to do with parts of my painful childhood than with anything she does.

She is growing up. I signed up for this. On good days I rejoice in it. This morning I had to find my feet, remember her deep love and acknowledge mine for her. As she was running out the door, backpack over her shoulder, dressed in her green soccer uniform, cleats clanking on the tile she shouted "I love you Papa..." Yeah, me too.