Mindful Readings for a Retiring CEO & Anyone Else

Leave the first response January 3, 2011 / Posted in Mindful Business, Mindful Leadership

Change. Always change.

A friend of mine and fellow Vistage Chair, Allen Hauge, asked a question about some readings for a retiring CEO. This is what I shared.

Here is a short list of books that I think would be helpful to a retiring CEO (was he/she tired the first time?) or anyone else for that matter

Also these books would be most appropriate to anyone who is on the road to finding meaning in the second half of their lives while still traveling in the first part of their lives..

James Hollis was introduced to me by Glenn Waring a good number of years ago.

Also a great read in one’s search for going home: “Where you are recognized for who you are. Nothings more. Nothing less.” is Travels With Odysseus

Finding Meaning In The Second Half of Life James Hollis

What Matters Most: Living A More Considerate Life James Hollis

The Middle Passage: From Misery To Meaning In Midlife James Hollis

Creating A Life: Finding Your Individual Path
James Hollis

Through The Dark Wood
James Hollis Audio from Sounds True

On This Journey We Call Our Life
James Hollis

Bob Nourse, the Founder of TEC/Vistage, was strongly influenced by Carl Jung. Your member will find Bob’s autobiographical sharing helpful as Bob looks back on his own Odyssey (Remind him to also read Michael Goldberg’s: Travels With Odysseus). A wonderful sharing by by Bob Nourse. 50 Years Ago A Concept Called TEC Was Born.

From a reader’s comments on On This Journey We Call Our Life:

Willing to be Asked the Questions
On This Journey We Call Our Life – Living the Questions (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts) is one of the 4 books by Hollis I own which include a superb audio book on CD he cogently narrates titled “The Middle Passage – From Misery to Meaning in Midlife”. On This Journey… was published in 2003 and is his third latest book – his most recent being “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life – How to Finally, Really Grow Up”.

…. Hollis is a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst practicing out of Texas where he is also the Executive Director of the Jung Educational Center of Houston. He’s contributed 8 titles to the Studies in Jungian Psychology series himself. We recently shared some correspondence and I found him warm and thoughtfully responsive.

After a nice Publisher’s Forward by Daryl Sharp, Hollis tells us early in his introduction “One way of looking at this journey is to observe that psyche presents us with two large questions…” one for each of the two halves of our lives. The question of the first half is ‘”What is the world asking of me?” and that of the second is “What, now, does the soul; ask of me?” To the first he remembers when, as children, we asked the great mysterious questions only to relinquish the profound imperative: “The wonder and terror forgotten, buried but not dead beneath the details of the daily grind.” And, sadly “…we forgot those questions, and who we were, and that we were really called upon to do something with this gift of life.” To the second question (for the second half of life) Hollis offers up some poignant questions to be asked (but not necessarily answered) by honest, humble, self-seekers willing to ask and grow. These ten questions are reflected in the Table of Contents and are expanded in each chapter to flesh out the real meaning of the questions. However Hollis does not “…purport to offer their answers, though I present possibilities.”

By What Truths Am I Living My Life?
What Is My Shadow and How Can I Make It Known?
What Is My Myth?
What Is My Vocation?
What Are My Spiritual Points Of Reference?
What Fiction Shall Be My Truth?
What Is My Obligation to the World?
So, Ahem . . . What’s This Death Business?
What Supports Me?
What Matters, in the End?

In his chapter “What Is My Shadow and How Can I Make It Known?” he poses “Seven Questions for Personal Reflection on the Shadow”. Incidentally, the whole shadow business has been hands down the most fascinating topic for me. The subject proved the genesis of my journey into individuation and the world of Jungian psychology – a veritable gateway & goldmine!

One theme I appreciate in several of his works is the affirmation that “We are all more than the sum of what happened to us.” that is “I am not what happened to me – I am what I choose to become.”

There’s some recurrence of certain poetry and philosophy from earlier works (e.g. “The Middle Passage”) and this is certainly fine with me. To name a number of poets & philosophers he cites: James Agee, Stephen Dunn, T.S. Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Kierkegaard, D.H. Lawrence, Rainer Maria Rilke, Dylan Thomas, Thoreau, Yeats (and C.G. Jung of course).

Relevant footnotes throughout helpfully point the interested reader to Hollis’ earlier books and they show how this material effectively evolved out of those works. Simply put, this book ties together threads from those earlier works and weaves a nice tapestry of Jungian analysis. A good bibliography and index help the reader find sources and subjects.

The last chapter, “What Matters, in the End?” hits on aspects of our projections and requires “Doing Our Work” accepting responsibility, finding strength to pull back our projections, and a engaging in a rapport with our inner world where our choices develop. The next sub-chapter “Ask the Meaning of Your Suffering” explains how this question “tends to relocate our sense of selfhood beyond the narrow purview of our ego.” It concludes with two sub-chapters that suggest we “Keep Asking What Matters, in the End” and “Suffer Consciously” lest we take the unconscious alternative of avoiding what is in us.

Finally, Hollis concludes: “…While the ultimate purpose of this journey and our unique role in the great scheme of things will remain a mystery, our questions serve us by keeping us on track. Something wants to live through us, and we need to allow it.”

I was able to recognize a lot of material from this book in my life/history (as well as from my repeated listening to “The Middle Passage”) and I’ll undoubtedly re-read this book many times as it serves to illuminate the nature of my questions and the questions of my nature – the spirit of this is succinctly exemplified in a famous quote found in this book:

“The meaning of my existence is that life has addressed a question to me . . . or conversely, I myself am a question.” CG Jung, MDR

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