Monday, January 23, 2012

Reading notes from Zen Lessons: The Art of Leadership

"I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn't know how to use it." --Matthew Quigley, from the film Quigley: Down Under.

Quigley was taking about revolvers and pistols. For me, that pretty much describes how I see leadership, and especially management, in librarianship. I may not have much use for it, but it does not mean I am ignorant of leadership theory and practice. Anyhow, how often does one quote a Tom Selleck film in a librarianship blog? Sometimes you find a little wisdom in strange places.

I read the book Zen Lessons: The Art of Leadership a while back. I have a small interest in the topic of leadership and how it applies to librarianship. I don't consider myself an expert on the topic, but I try to learn a bit here and there and reflect on the topic. I just don't brag or talk about it very much. I did jot down some ideas from the book I found interesting or worthy of reflection, so I figured it would be good to jot them down here. Page numbers from the book included.

A couple of quotes from the point when I started reading the book:
  • "Therefore, it is said, 'Accumulate learning by study, understand what you learn by questioning" (1).
  • "Nothing is more essential to leadership and teachership than carefully discerning what to take and what to leave aside" (7). 
A little bit on making decisions:
  • "It is essential to leadership that one should take far-reaching and the great, and leave off the shortsighted and the petty" (24) .
  • "So it is said, 'Planning is with the many, decision is done alone.' By planning with the group, one can examine the ultimate effect of benefit or harm; by deciding oneself, one can determine right or wrong for the community" (24).
On not forgetting danger and risk:
  • "Therefore a superior person is one who when safe does not forget danger, and who in times of order does not forget about disorder" (43). 
On sharing and teaching wisdom. For me, sharing and teaching are important aspects of being a librarian as well as what I do as an educator. I think to a large extent I define myself as a librarian on the basis of sharing the wisdom with others:
  • "Greed and hatred are worse than plunderous--oppose them with wisdom. Wisdom is like water-- when unused it stagnates, when stagnant it does not circulate, and when it does not circulate, wisdom does not act. What can wisdom do about greed and hatred then?" (64).
On seeking a Middle Way:
  • "In managing affairs one must weight the heavy and the light; when speaking out one must first think and reflect. Strive to accord with the middle way, do not allow bias" (74). 

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