When a book or essay appears in print, it is never all that could be said. It is a distillation and essence of the whole topic.
For my short book, Where Did Trust Go?, the instigating moment was a question from a Nairobi businessman. He asked me following a presentation to his group last February,
“What are we to do about corruption in government and business?”
At that point in time, I did not have an answer. I do now. It is found in this little book.
Let me describe what I see that led me to write. Let’s look at this through the lens of the Circle of Impact in terms of three problems.
In September 2018, after Circle of Impact was published, I hit the road to promote sales of the book. I spent the next year talking to people standing in bookstores, sitting at bars, in laundromats, parking lots, and hotel lobbies. These conversations went something like this.
“Oh, so you are the author of this book?”
“What’s your book about?”
“It is a book for people and organizations that are in transition.”
Then they would give me a surprised look and say, “Oh. … Well. … That describes me.”
Then a conversation would happen where they would tell me a story about who they are, their life experience, and why they felt they were in transition.
I found that people first feel that they are in transition. But they lack a way to talk about it. This feeling rises deep from within themselves. This is especially true if they have either worked in an environment described above where they are simply hired to perform specific tasks or have been out of the workforce for a while taking care of family needs, whether children or elderly parents.
Of all the ways that I could describe the book, speaking about transition resonated most significantly with people. This isn’t just personal. It is also something happening to our society, our communities, and every organization within it. It is a global reality felt at the most intimate level of our lives. It is also clear that some people are better suited or prepared to make transitions in their lives, while for others it is a very tough, hard experience.
Squeezed is the appropriate word. It is why people feel vulnerable, rather than them feeling the desire to be vulnerable.
This is vulnerability imposed from the outside, by the structures of the world and their companies.
The kind that Chris Lister writes about in his FastCompany article – I thought I knew what it meant to lead with vulnerability. Then I became CEO – is a choice that we make to be a particular way. Lister is correct. It isn’t as easy as Brene’ Brown suggests. Though I’m not sure Brene’ is saying it is easy but necessary.