Your Path To Effectiveness In Leadership, Life, And Legacy

The Map: Your Path To Effectiveness In Leadership, Life, And Legacy (Book Commentary)

After completing my first book commentary, I've zoomed onto the next one, exploring adult development theory. The book explored in this commentary is The Map - Your Path To Effectiveness In Leadership, Life, And Legacy by Keith Eigel & Karl Kuhnert (affiliate link). Here is the book summary. 

Great leadership isn't about winning. It's not about pleasing people, and it's certainly not about titles. Great leadership is about making the contribution only you can make for your family and friends, your community or organization, your country or the world. But having that influence requires us to "grow into-and take ownership of-who we are and what we stand for." The journey isn't automatic. Leadership maturity isn't the natural byproduct of aging. It requires wisdom, courage and effort. Too many people find themselves stuck under the weight of their circumstances, so they don't realize their potential. Based in decades of research on adult development, The Map explains how we can take control of our growth and accelerate progress in leadership, life, and legacy.

The Map explores concepts inspired by decades of research and further explored by Robert Kegan. It's also the structure for the Leaders Lyceum, a development program I participated in during 2017.

 If you're curious about the content of the book, you can check out the author's Ted Talk below, which summarizes what the book dives deep into.

As I did with Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, I've read through, highlighted and shared my commentary on Facebook using the hashtag #TheMapTheBook. The entire commentary is published below. If you're inspired to read The Map, you can grab your copy on Amazon here (Affiliate Link).

Chapter 1: Preparing For The Journey

Preparing For The Journey

Fun connections with the author in my new read. He started his trip when I was born and while he traveled from Atlanta to California, I moved from Arizona to Atlanta. I was also born in 1984. I'm excited about this journey :-)

Just beyond our grasp

Learning to live in the moment with consideration of what's ahead, and appreciate of what came before, is something I've come to value over the past few years. Before that, I was entirely in the moment, living in the future as if it was here today, or dwelling on the past. 

Intentional growth

I've historically loved to learn and grow, and the motivation that comes with the progress is energizing. Let's commit to lean into challenges we might otherwise avoid.

Lost without purpose

I've been lost and directionless. Unfortunately, it's led to toxic people as I sought to figure out what to do in life. I've definitely benefited from healthy mentors reaching out into my life to meet me where I was and guide me down a healthier path. The more clear and precise I've gotten with my vision (destination), the easier and quicker I'm able to decipher healthy and toxic today.

describe the promised land

At the end of each chapter in The Map, are a list of questions. I'll share the appropriate ones here and my answer to them. Please feel free to share your answer to the question in the comments below.

When I think of "Promised Land", the idea of vision comes to mind. Vision is our where. Where are we going? 

Vision PULLS US to the finish line when nothing else will and vision is our window into the Promised Land from where we are now. 

Without vision, we perish. We lose hope and without hope, we have nothing to strive for or hold onto when life gets rough.

My vision is, We Are Thriving Together. This vision is what pulls me forward when chaos is around me. When there are brokenness and isolation, I am pulled out of my feelings of depression, doubt, and despair towards this. 

It starts with me thriving in the Trinity (God, the source of community). It overflows into my marriage, my family and my community. As part of my vision, I'm helping those "just trying to survive in isolation" move to a state of thriving. It includes introducing them to the source from which life, love, and community originate. I'm heavily motivated to pay it forward because of the fruit this vision provides as well as the generosity of others who have met me in my state of survival and isolation.

What about you?

where are you a leader in your life

I see myself as a leader of me, my marriage, kids, clients, and community.

Leading myself is extremely difficult and marriage is also hard. There are certain aspects of my life, getting up in the morning, that I can't seem to overcome. I've got to place my alarm across the house to ensure I get up :-)With myself, I know what I want and need to do, but sometimes I can't will myself to do it.

In marriage, the difficulty is in the history we have with our spouse. We know each other so well both good and bad it can be hard to bring each other along and get on the same page.

I'm quite effective as a leader in the work I do with my clients. In fact, I've become so effective I'm over capacity and no longer taking on new clients. We're making real positive change happen and others notice. 2 1/2 years into freelancing and I've maximized the opportunity. The last time I face this dynamic, I started hiring people and building a company. This time I get the opportunity to refer other great freelancers to my clients and build a team for them instead of me. I love it.

With my kids, I find leading them to be natural and fairly easy. They look up to me and want to follow my lead. Unfortunately, like I said above, leading myself in the way I want and need to lead them is difficult to follow through on. I'm learning to just flow with them and embrace the relationship first and foremost.

Community is something I've naturally been effective at leading for a large portion of my life. At the same time, I've let a lot of people down, said destructive things and made hurtful actions towards others. Fortunately, I've learned, grown, and pushed through it to continue living in a healthy community. I love to engage with people in person and I've grown many relationships with all types of friends from numerous walks of life.

What about you?

how are we traversing life?

What do you think of my following self-assessment? What's missing?

I highly value Influencing others, relational steadiness and loving others. I've been through many seasons where these values were stressed beyond what I could handle. This stress helped me grow beyond what I would have chosen for myself and built upon the skills I had inherited and developed.

As I was growing up, I loved making movies. What I came to realize was that film making contributed to four areas I found vocational fulfillment.

  1. Problem-solving is a where I'm naturally talented.
  2. Sharing stories with others is enjoyable.
  3. Bringing people together and forward is meaningful to me
  4. Connecting people with others and resources is important to me.

As I've matured, I've learned how to live these out in my life even when I'm not able to make movies or when my work does not facilitate all four areas.

Growing up, my dad was constantly asking questions to me and others. Questions have a way of triggering us to reflect and grow. For this and other reasons, I've discovered I was highly geared towards growth from a young age. Moving across the country into a context I had no understanding of how to live, created an extended and difficult contradiction to what I knew. Simply put, my way was not working and I needed to grow to survive and ultimately achieve my set goals while maintaining my values.

Letting go of my way of thinking, believing and doing, led to a deeper and better understanding of myself, others, the world, and God. I now embrace the concept of "jogging the marathon" of growth instead of "sprinting it".

What else?

See yourself clearly, question

After I made the decision to shut down Noodlehead Marketing, I went through a juggle of anxiety and depression. This led to a variety of issues including fear, panic attacks and mental spiraling. It felt as if I had been hit by a semi-truck. All the emotions and memories from growing up, moving across the country, getting married, going to college, and launching a business flushed through me like a wave. 

Unprepared, I was swept away by it.

The beauty I found was in the fruit of that season. I learned to manage my mind and emotions to a degree I had not known possible. My ability to act when my actions were contrary to my feelings or physical resistances was strengthened. I've also learned how to more efficiently piggyback on the natural flows of life to make it less difficult while also equipping me to save energy for the more difficult stretches.

Facing the unknown is a large challenge for me and anyone else with anxiety. With the wounds I've experienced, I choose to walk forward in this unknown, and do so optimistically even with the understanding of the harsh and sometimes irreconcilable realities we face in this life. 

What about you?

Chapter 2: The View From 30,000 Feet

reactive or proactive?

I remember the days of living re-actively. I was like a ping pong ball reacting to the loudest problem while neglecting the others. I was overcommitted and unable to say no both personally and professionally. In fact, out of my insecurity, I said yes thinking I could prove to others my worth, only for it to backfire.

I decided to make the decision of who I was going to be and what my intentions were going to be. Around 2010, this is what I wrote as "My Focus"

"My Mission is to help others realize and actualize their vision.

My priorities are my faith in Jesus Christ first, my wife and family second, and my work third.

My motivation is not fear of failure, but instead, is to be an instrument of service and love without fear, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)"

Vertical Adult Development

How much time do you spend on on vertical growth (maturity) compared to lateral growth (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities)?

Leaning into conflict requires energy, is usually more difficult, and generally requires intent.

Some of the greatest benefits I've received in my life have come on the other side of my greatest conflicts.

On the flip-side, pushing through these conflicts have illuminated the fraudulent claims of my anxious mind. Simply put, it's less scary than I think it is.

Shifting our mindset to see the beauty, growth, and fruit of engaging in this conflict, as well as putting our fears in their proper place, is helpful in seeing conflict as a challenge instead of a calamity.

Vertical Growth is personal growth

This snippet is something I relate to deeply.

There was a particular moment early on at Noodlehead Marketing where we lacked funds to run a payroll. Over the weekend I was stressed and threw out a desperate prayer for God to provide. Later that day a lead came in via email for a new project. Within a few days, he hired us for the $9k project. We had what we needed and the client became one of our favorites.

Fast forward several years, and the problem was now larger. I could forecast we Noodleheads were going to fall short for payroll over the next several months if a large deal did not come through. Similarly. I threw up another desperate prayer asking God to provide. That day, a lead came in from a friend. After discussing the project, they moved forward with the $55k project.

After losing much trust in Him, God started to reteach me on how to trust him and he started small. As our relationship grew, the the challenges kept growing to the point I found myself requesting to trust him for much less. It was much easier that way. Fortunately for us both, he didn't say yes to my request :-)

Persevering Through Challenges

It's neat to see the conclusions of research align with the insights shared in Paul's new testament letters.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." - Paul The Apostle

It's never easy to embrace this teaching, but it's well worth it when we come out on the other side of adversity.

procrastination leads to bigger problems

I've gotten myself in trouble (Getting Sued & Incurring Debt) by pushing things off in the future hoping they'd resolve themselves. I've flipped from being reactive on this to usually rooting out issues at their inception.

What trouble have you gotten yourself in by pushing conflict into the future?

What are the 5 levels of development we can progress through in our life? According to developmental theory, there are three levels of outside-in understanding followed by two levels of inside-out understanding.

Care to understand this better? Watch this TED Talk by Keith Eigel explain the five levels.

So, the people and media that were allowed in our lives, and those we parents allow in the lives of our children, have a significant influence on level 2 development.

What struck me about this passage is how we desire and seek out an authority to speak into our life when there is a vacuum. At level 2, we need outside influences. Are we intentional about what that is for our kids?

level 2 adults, havoc

Unfortunately, I've had mentors, friendships, employees and clients I'd attribute as level 2. These people are the most toxic and stressful relationships we can have. Unlike before, I'm much better equipped to engage with them, but it doesn't change how stressful it can be when we're under or over their authority. When I read this, I also can't help but think about one of our two presidential candidates.

During this transition, I recall the diminishing of my parent's influence and the increase of influence of those I sought out. I'm grateful to the many adults and outside family members who led me directly and indirectly during my teenage years.

Unfortunately, when I moved to Atlanta I lost much of that structure and source of life, not understanding what I had left behind. I floundered to figure out who I was and what I was going to do.

Waffling Decision Makers

Noodlehead Marketing went through two distinct journeys. A friend, who observed both seasons, shared how my leadership really took a positive direction in effectiveness when I stopped running the company like a democracy.

Ultimately what he was saying was that I no longer waffled in my decision making and instead owned responsibility and direction for where we were going as a company. A vision was established, and we went towards it regardless of the pushback I received.

Living from the inside out

This is a hard revelation to accept, but one that transforms the way we see and live out our life.

How many of us are looking at the potential next president to make our life better? To make us happy? We can have a terrible president and a great life at the same time, but it requires we take ownership of our life.

So in light of the image, who in your life do you need to reconcile with?

Learning to let go and rise above

Less than 20% of people ever arrive at level 5 development. When we face severe contradiction, that even a level 4 perspective isn't capable of reconciling, we'll need to let go and embrace something greater than ourselves to make the leap.

What do you need to let go?

I admire the leaders I've listed below due to their ability to transcend how they see the world and communicate it in a compelling and inspiring way. How they lead, manage and value people in their pursuit to teach truth has also had a positive and powerful impact in my life.

what challenges have you faced so far?

The day after my wife and I returned from our honeymoon in 2005, we packed up everything and moved from Arizona to Atlanta. I graduated college, attempted to make a feature film, launched a political news website, ran a marketing agency, owned a horse, shut down a company, changed careers, and fathered four kids in almost twelve years. We started this journey with little to no clue how to make it all work well, but we pushed through the ups and downs to get where we are today. It has been these unrequested yet fruitful struggles that became the catalyst for my vertical growth.

Chapter 3: Level 2: It's All About Me

Me first children

Alright, we're moving into chapter three of The Map. The chapter heading is Level 2 - It's All About Me.

When I read this, it very much reminds me of my children, their judgments, and statements towards me and their mom.

"I Hate You!" - "You're Mean!" - "You Don't Love Me!"

Rick Warren's book, Purpose Driven Life would be a good one for level 2 people to read. It starts out with "It's Not About You."

win lose mentality

And so we continue the journey through #TheMapTheBook

While expected for teenagers, adults stuck in this level of maturity leave a wake of destruction in their path.

I can't help but relate these word to many of the violent protesters during yesterday's inauguration of our new president.

Unwisely Promoting People To Higher Positions of Authority

During the years at Noodlehead Marketing, I made this mistake numerous times. The poor decisions led to difficult times and situations. What do you think?

Moving stuck people forward

I've spent way too much time attempting to moving stuck people forward in their personal growth. It's best we strive to always learn and grow or we suffer the fate of becoming so entrenched it can be almost impossible to move forward. Are you stuck or moving forward?

Letting others grow

As parents, it can be difficult to stand by and watch our kids experience the natural consequences of their decisions. We want them to flourish not suffer, but unfortunately shielding them stunts their growth making their life more difficult in the long-term. How do you handle this tension?

Chapter 4: Level 3: Overwhelmed By Outside Influences

challenges dislodge us

In chapter 4 of #TheMapTheBook, it dives into Level 3 of 5. When we mature to level 3 we realize how we understand the world is not as simple as we thought. On average, we enter Level 3 in our late teenage years and exit it in our late thirties, early forties (Mid-Life Crisis).

Do you wonder why peer pressure is so prominent in high school and college? Are you curious to know why Social Media is a black hole for people with a level 3 maturity? This excerpt helps us to make sense of these realities.

Outside sources can help us make sense of the world, but at the same time, we can become so reliant on them they shape our identity. We become subject to the winds of those around us.

This insight provides me with the motivation to establish and build relational equity (influence) with my kids. It's also why I find it important we create a healthy context for our children at this age. When we neglect the intentionality of shaping their community and context, we're leaving them and their future up to chance.

school of hard knocks

When we don't learn from other's insight or those who stumble, we end up learning life's lessons the hard way. Reality has a way of making us face things we otherwise would prefer to avoid or run away from. 

How Level 3 People See Themselves

Each of the levels or transitions between them can be more challenging for us based on who we are. Level 3 was naturally harder for me because of my personality type (Influencer and Extravert). Now instead of draining my energy to manage my persona, I'm able to channel it into more productive and fruitful channels. 

Is life a classroom or a prison?

Do your life's challenges feel like a Classroom or Prison to you?

Being completely honest

Is empathy our starting or stopping point? Do you protect yourself by saying you're protecting someone else? 

Groups and communities

How deep do your beliefs go?

Challenge accumulation leads to level 4 growth

Let's embrace the challenges.

Chapter 5: Level 4: Taking Ownership Of Your Life

Take ownership for your life

In Adult Development theory, there are five stages of maturity we traverse through (for those who don't arrest). The fourth stage is about self-authoring who we are. This transition is contingent on taking ownership of our lives and leaning into the challenges we face.

What challenging relationships and situations do you find yourself inside? Are you leaning into making it more productive or are you instead of seeking ways to sneak away from the conflict? What about areas of your life where there is no conflict? Are you taking time to intentionally grow there, so when conflict arises, you're prepared?

It's much easier for us to blame others and circumstances for our lot in life. And while much of what we can experience is outside of our control, we do have the choice on how we respond to what happens to us. And, how we move forward.

Next year, we'll finally finish paying off our student loans (God willing), and as much as I'm owning the responsibility of taking this debt and paying it back, it would be much easier to complain about it and blame the school, the government, my parents, or other people for being stuck in this situation. Level 3 leaders would stay in this mindset, waiting for an unlikely rescue. Level 4 leaders own it and move forward with their life seeing the challenge as an opportunity for growth. The process of accepting responsibility has illuminated these tensions, allowing me to face myself and grow.

As we traverse life, we'll redundantly face situations that challenge how we see and understand the world. In those moments, we can bypass the contradiction (easier) OR lean in and wrestle with it (scarier), for a new and deeper understanding. The deeper we go, the more we must give up. It can feel like our world is ending. But at this new level, we also receive something much better.

The dissent from others who disagree and cause us to doubt help us more fully understand the issue or topic. When we know not just what we believe, but why we believe it, we're more securely anchored for new challenges that come our way. When we seek to influence others, we're more effective at helping to share this understanding in a way that shares the underlying framework so they too have a foundation.

Chapter 6: Level 5: Letting Go & Rising Above

Anger and frustration at younger generations

Level 5 leadership

These passages show the contrast between someone stuck at level 4 and someone as a level 5 leader. Letting go and rising above. Most of us have experienced arrested level 4 leaders, and it's memorable and unpleasant.

Recently an employee of one of my new clients fell into this category. Upon my arrival and sharing a few links, he made it quite clear that my methods were not his, and that mine would not work because of numerous problems. He also indicated how the company was not better off, and he presented a challenge to prove him wrong.

I laughed and the leadership apologized (as well as confronted him about his behavior). While I appreciated his candor, I didn't care for his presumptuous words. I also know that his approach has fossilized, and requires new life. Together, we'll have a fusion that will grow the organization.

The second example in the final image should be the vision for us all to attain. We ought to strive towards deep wisdom that emanates from our being and do the hard work of moving through level 4 so we don't get stuck in a cynical state. Instead of blaming the next generation for failing miserably, jump in the trenches and be a part of the solution!

This is one of the many reasons The Last Jedi was such a powerful interwoven story. We experience Luke Skywalker work through this transition.

level 5 leaders recognize the garment of destiny

This striking insight illuminates how our intentions as we mature over time shift (should we lean in and continue growing). Which motivation connects with where you are? 

As one traverses through the levels, the difficulty escalates in accomplishing the goal. How do we ALL get to a place where we appreciate and move each other towards common goals? Imagine a leader attempting to do this on a national level. Is it even possible? 

The quote from King reminds me how we're all connected, and it's in our best individual and collective best interest that we lean into this reality. Do we choose self-destruction or collective flourishing?

Chapter 7: Better Traction At Every Level

Formula for vertical growth

leaning into challenges develops maturity

So how do we transition upward through the five-levels of development? The Map gives us a formula framework to guide us.

Challenge and contradiction over time multiplied by perseverance lead to vertical growth (maturity). Yeah, it has all the ingredients we are not inclined to include ;-)

Life ensures we'll face challenges and contradictions, but the key here is leaning into those. In fact, its proactively seeking them out that really gets the ball moving. But leaning into these difficulties is no easy task. It feels much easier, safer to avoid them through unhealthy outlets like pornography or working all the time. While we may prevent feeling this unwanted tension at the moment, we rob ourselves of these growth opportunities. Eventually, we're forced to deal with issues we've been kicking down the road. Pay for it now, or later. We all decide.

What would it look like in your life if instead of avoiding conflict, you leaned into it? Instead of hiding from the tension, you faced it head on? What if you sought out the perspective of someone who sees the world and believes in a completely different way?

Chapter 8: Identifying Your Growth Gap

convert complaints to self awareness

We all have complaints, and what we complain about is a clue as to what we value. Unfortunately, many of us continually complain instead of taking the time from these cause to understand what we care about most.

The next time you have a complaint, ask yourself, why does this bother me? What is it I value that leads me to get frustrated, angry or bothered when I'm witnessing or experiencing it?
When we don't do this work, we're further anchoring ourselves into a jaded state of being with a habit of complaining.

Follow this link to explore more details and my example on how to leverage complaints to help us grow. 

Chapter 9: From Level 2 to Level 3: Who Do You Trust?

parents enabling children lead to long term problems

The last section of chapters in The Map dives into how to navigate the transition between levels. Chapter 9 explores the transition between 2 and 3. Since almost all adults have made this transition (yes, about 10% don't!), the chapter explores how we effectively interact with younger people in the midst of it.

Back to the excerpt.

When our kids make mistakes, it's not fun to allow them to experience the consequences of their decisions. And, it's so easy to step in and take the brunt of their struggle. While we may spare them at the moment from the hard ache, we're robbing their future self of the maturity and grit they'll need and want to not only survive in this world but thrive.

How do you handle this tension with raising or leading young adults?

Chapter 10: From Level 3 to Level 4: Owning Your Perspective

great courage to own our perspective

Transitioning from outside-in identity and belief system to an internal self-authored paradigm is challenging, and scary. Imagine looking over the cliff's edge. Who wants to make that jump? And many don't. It's why many people go off the rails with a "midlife crisis".

This excerpt from chapter 10 (Owning Your Perspective) reminds me of the Island Story's ending. Facing the final trap, we must let go of what we're holding onto, lest we fall into the abyss of destruction. When we do let go, we rise to the top of the water, and what matters rises with us. It's a leap of faith to traverse the chasm from level 3 to 4. 

While others can support us during this transition, we've ultimately got to own and author the process. No one can do it for us.

Chapter 11: From Level 4 To Level 5: Finding Fifth Gear

book excerpt: letting go of our self authored way of doing things

In chapter 11, the book explores the transition from a self-authored level 4 view of the world into a higher order way of looking at and understanding reality.

This particular passage articulates what it feels like to be deeply anchored into our successful way of doing things, while also facing an alternative approach, foreign to our paradigm. But, it's in this state that we have a choice to open up or hold on dearly. Times and context will change, and holding on only leads to cynicism and resentment.

While I suspect this transition is a ways off for me, my hope is the awareness of its impending arrival will fuel the fire required to recognize and act when the time has come for me to view my shovel as one of many great options for solving the most complex of issues.

Chapter 12: Level 5... Now What?

level 5 leaders meet people where they are

In my final excerpt share from The Map, we get a glimpse into level 5 leadership life. In this passage, we're given a picture to aspire towards, a way where we meet followers where they are and communicate how they need it.

Imagine if the leaders of companies, non-profits, and the government held this level of maturity?

Let's learn and embrace life's challenges so we can become leaders like this. 


This concludes my commentary on The Map by Keith M. Eigel, Ph.D. & Karl W. Kuhnert, Ph.D. If you're interested in reading the book in its entirety, click here to buy on Amazon.

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