• May 2015
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Ethical Edge Letters on Integrity  

Click here for Russell Williams' bio

Tuesday, April 06, 2010
'What are you doing for others?'
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
If it’s to be, it’s up to me
Stay focused when faced with change

“Sweet are the uses of adversity; which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.” — William Shakespeare

Do individuals and organizations become more competent when the toad of adversity hops onto the road? Does excelling constantly demand a vigilant eye focused on the desired result while maneuvering through ever-changing, often treacherous conditions? The answers? YES!

Rich DeVos, one of the 20th century’s great entrepreneurs, was an avid sailor. DeVos used his sea experience to shape an inspirational message about staying focused on our goals regardless of changing circumstances. He described the changing circumstances in his classic message, the Four Winds. What are they?

The Northerlys are tough and harsh. They come up unexpectedly. They blast. They suddenly attack. They wreak havoc. Watch out when these ferocious conditions hit an organization or individual. They can spell disaster.

The Easterlys are relentless, powerful, filled with constant challenges. They can cause character failures as we give in to the path of least resistance, which ends in compromising our integrity.

The Southerlys? They are lulling, soothing, hidden, unnoticed and sporadic. These life winds bring complacency and forgetfulness to pay attention to the skills that got us out on the open seas of competition.

The Westerlys are the winds we want in our sails – always! These are the steady winds of encouragement, good times, smooth sailing. These winds nurture, renew our energies and give us the freedom to think about new directions.

The Four Winds metaphor finds meaning in 30 years of research related to Organizational Learning, or OL. The OL writings of Amgyris & Schon (’78); Fiol and Lyles (’85); and Dodgson (’93) underscore significant themes revealing that thriving organizations: adapt to change; detect and correct error; let go of the past; and improve their actions through better knowledge and understanding.

Mission Integrity Action

Understanding what winds are in my sails this week will help me maneuver to my goal. Do I need to use the leadership navigation skill of listening as I work effectively and empathetically with others? Am I pursuing actions that shape long-term, trust-driven relationships?

Appreciating you on the ethical edge!

Russell Williams,
Passkeys Foundation/Ethical Edge