Beyond the Rockstar Paradigm


During a plenary at TWI grantee Interfaith Youth Core’s conference Interfaith Youth Work: “Leadership for a Religiously Diverse World”, I was struck by Representative Keith Ellison’s, 5th Congressional District of Minnesota,vehement statement: “let’s differentiate between leaders and leadership.” Clearly positional leaders can demonstrate very little leadership while those of us without positional authority can offer leadership at any moment. Think about the volunteer who, in June of 1963, acted to print 50,000 instead of 5,000 fliers for the march (an immense effort in pre-Kinko’s times) that eventually helped bring over a million people to hear MLK speak in the mall. Or the …   Read more

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Indepedent Sector's Future Lab: They Built It and They're Not Coming

By John EsterleI recently got another email from Independent Sector trying to solicit input and ideas for Future Lab: An Ongoing Challenge for the Nonprofit Community to Chart a Vibrant 2020. The Lab is a well-intentioned effort to promote online dialogue and collaborative thinking that IS has clearly devoted considerable time, energy, and money to. The Lab is one part of IS’ Envisioning Our Future initiative that was kicked off in July with their Strategy Lab convening in Colorado.Unfortunately, hardly anyone — including me — is taking up their invitation to participate online.My non-participation brings to mind my own recent post about the challenge of people not leaving comments on blogs. So why haven’t I participated? Here’s some of what …   Read more

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Maya Enista: Utne Visionary

By John EsterleThe Utne Reader has published their annual list of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” and Maya Enista, CEO of TWI grantee, Mobilize.org, is among them. Congratulations, Maya!As I went down the list of the other 49 visionaries without recognizing a single one, I couldn’t help but think of the countless people working in so many different places and in so many different ways to make the world a better place. Given the constant drumbeat of bad news we get it’s important to remember, and be grateful for, just how many forces for good there are in the world. Thanks to Utne for highlighting that. …   Read more

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21st Century Skills

By John EsterleMark Wilding, Executive Director of The PassageWorks Institute (a TWI grantee) has written an insightful post on “21st Century Education from the Inside Out” that makes the case for moving beyond polarized debates within education (e.g. skills vs. content, discipline vs. an open heart; ends vs. means) if all of our kids are going to be able to participate in schools that “are safe and intellectually challenging environments — so that they have the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social skills to be successful and ethical citizens in the 21st century.”Mark touches on a couple of themes present in my recent posts (how emotion affects learning and thinking; the importance of working with people who think differently than you) …   Read more

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Harvard Decision Making Lab

By John EsterleI had a fun “aha” moment when I was noodling around and discovered The Harvard Decision Making Lab, which was founded less than a year ago. They’re studying all kinds of interesting stuff around the science of decisions, with a particular interest in the role of emotions in decision making. And the favorite emotion to study for the Lab’s director, Jennifer Lerner, is anger. For more about her interest in this topic and her ideas about the Lab I recommend reading this introductory profile. In the meantime, here are some statements from her that popped out at me:”We have approximately 3,000 executive education students come through each year — over and above the enrolled students. The executive …   Read more

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