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Driving Your Stake in the Sand:
Owning One's Destiny

by John E. Renesch

I was told once that nothing meaningful ever happens until someone takes a stand. I know that my life changed very dramatically one day in 1985 when I took a stand on a personal issue, between myself and another person. It had to do with walking tall for my own self-respect after many years of repeated cycles where I compromised myself in order to please another. 

In my professional life, particularly in my work on transformative leadership in the past decade, I learned that the really great leaders take their "place in the universe" and stand tall for their role, their responsibility, their choice in that stance.

Some of the people who've done this have included Czech president Vaclav Havel, Jane Goodall, South African president Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Jonas Salk, Copernicus and many other less well-known people throughout the ages.

One of the people I most admire is a woman named Lynne Twist. Lynne is a living example of someone who has clearly taken her stand in the world. She is a founding executive for The Hunger Project and serves on several boards, including the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Fetzer Institute and the State of the World Forum - an annual event originated by the Gorbachev Foundation in 1995. In the Fall 1999 article of Yes! A Journal of Positive Futures, she writes about the power of taking a stand :

Over two thousand years ago, the mathematician Archimedes said, "Give me a place to stand, and I'll move the world." Taking a stand is a way of living and being that draws on a place within yourself that is at the very heart of who you are. When you take a stand, you find your place in the universe, and you have the capacity to move the world.

Stand-takers have lived in every era of history. Many of them never held public office, but they changed history through the sheer power, integrity, and authenticity of who they became as a result of the stand they took….When you have taken a stand with your life, you see the world as the remarkable, unlimited, boundless possibility that it is. And people see themselves through your eyes in new ways; they become more authentic in your presence because they know you see them for who they really are.

Buckminster Fuller once said, "When you discover the truth, it is always beautiful, and beautiful for everyone with no one left out." This is also true of taking a stand. 

Lynne then goes on to make a distinction - the difference between taking a "position" and taking a "stand." She writes: Taking a position does not create an environment of inclusiveness and tolerance; instead, it creates even greater levels of entrenchment, often by insisting that for me to be right, you must be wrong.

Taking a stand does not preclude you from taking a position. One needs to take a position from time to time to get things done or to make a point. But when a stand is taken it inspires everyone. It elevates the quality of the dialogue and engenders integrity, alignment, and deep trust. Taking a stand can shape a person's life and actions and give them access to profound truths that can empower the emergence of new paradigms and a shift in the course of history.  

Lynne's words remind me of the enormous power of commitment, the power of taking a stand for something you really believe in, and seeing major changes happen in the world. And, there's plenty of stands to take and any of us can do it.

1999 © John E. Renesch


John E. Renesch is a veteran businessman with over thirty years experience as a business owner, principal or entrepreneur. In his business career he served as CEO of a real estate investment company, President of two NASD broker-dealer firms, and managing principal for several other enterprises, including a weekly newspaper, an advertising agency and a promotion company. He is now a full-time futurist, business philosopher, writer and keynote speaker on topics that integrate the subjects of business, human consciousness and possible future scenarios for humanity.

Renesch has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The Nikkei Financial Times, Business Week, CNBC-TV's "Management Today Show," Chief Executive magazine, National Public Radio, Forbes and Industry Week magazines on the subject of consciousness and business.

It has been said that Renesch has caused more writings on the subject of consciousness and business or organizational life to be published than any other person in the world. Over three hundred authors have contributed to twelve anthologies which he has compiled since 1990, while serving as Editor-in-Chief for a progressive book publisher.

From 1990 to 1997 Renesch served as editor/publisher of The New Leaders business newsletter. From 1990 to early 1992 he was Managing Director of the World Business Academy, an international association focused on new paradigms for commerce. He is a radio commentator for Wisdom Radio and serves on the advisory board of The Park, an Internet community with a half million members in over 200 countries.

Warren Bennis, best-selling author of leadership books for nearly twenty years, calls Renesch "a wise elder who shines with wisdom." Stanford School of Business' Michael Ray calls him "a beacon lighting the way to a new paradigm." The Futurist magazine called him a "business visionary" in its January 2000 cover story about the 21st Century.

His latest book is Getting to the Better Future: A Matter of Conscious Choosing (New Business Books, 2000). More information about him can be found on his Web site: www.Renesch.com or email him at: John@Renesch.com


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