In the leadership development programs I facilitate, I am often asked to offer book recommendations. While I have a few favorites that relate specifically to the topic of leadership, I’m often more inclined to suggest good reads that get me thinking about the deeper purpose of my life. My most recent favorite is The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, by David Brooks. I read it while I was going through the Purpose Discovery Program I’ve reported on in a few posts over the last three months. David Brooks is a columnist for The New York Times and bestselling author of several books.
I was drawn to this book because it’s about how we can grow and develop over time – a perspective I adhere to, in my leadership programs, when I share the adult development theory of my colleague, Robert Kegan (professor emeritus at the Harvard Graduate School of Education). Bob’s theory is based on the notion of constructive-development, that we construct our own meaning-making which can develop and expand over time. Similarly, Brooks contends that we have the opportunity to climb two significant mountains in the course of our lifetime. The first, ego-driven, is an earlier stage of development in which we try to further goals that we have been taught to strive for – an individual who makes their mark through personal success and achievement. Alternatively, the second focuses on a later stage of development – where we seek things that will give our lives meaning and purpose, embracing the joys and sorrows associated with connecting to people and causes that are much greater than ourselves.
My own journey to find purpose has taken me to this Second Mountain, where my intention is to help those I touch reveal their hidden paths. This intent has led me to a commitment to face the reality of racism head-on. I am committed to this because I know that I can’t effectively help people of color reveal their hidden paths if I don’t find one to overcome my own racial biases. Climbing this Second Mountain will take courage and fortitude. It’s imperative because I never ask my clients to do anything I’m not willing to do myself. This is most definitely no exception.