This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, November 7, 2002

November 7, 2001 - Breakthroughs Benefits Leadership & Libraries

As a people, Americans have a peculiar fascination with work. Ask folks in other cultures what they "do," and they may tell you, "I paint." Or, "I carve." Or, "I spend time with my kids." Or, "I whistle."

Americans ask, "You do this for a living?"

And the answer baffles us: "No. I do this for a life."

Clearly, we all have animal needs: for air, for food, for shelter. We all have human needs: for human contact, for growth of mind and spirit, for productivity. For joy.

But in our culture, many of these things get subsumed in our jobs. Our work becomes a dominant metaphor for our lives. It's not sufficient to get enough money to pay the mortgage and grocery bills. It's not enough to be glad to work beside people we like.

Before long, the simple affirmation of living, of delighting in drawing a breath, becomes a series of calculations and comparisons. "I want to be creative," is translated into, "I need to increase my sales performance." "I want to get better at seeing, thinking, making," becomes, "I need that promotion."

Often, our place within the business becomes a statement of self, the objective confirmation of our inner worth.

In much the same way, Americans have a fascination with leadership. Leadership is that quality of people who really succeed in business, right? So leadership becomes the buzzword, the 21st century equivalent of "enlightened." It is our culture's metaphor for significant achievement. The Buddha becomes Bill Gates.

So more and more of our time moves from the private realm to the world of work.

In my profession, too, we have the workshops, the conferences, the coaching, the motivational books and audiotapes. The purpose: to move to the front of the field, to be leaders.

(And of course, there's the other purpose: to make a lot of money for the people who run the workshops, host the conferences, market the books and audiotapes.)

But what keeps me coming to work isn't just the fun of trying to steer the institutional ship through occasionally weird waters. I believe that what libraries do gets at some of those deep issues. We equip people not just to make a living, but to make a life.

Now, in a unique partnership among several sectors of our society, I'm pleased to announce an interesting workshop put on by a local business coaching and development group. They're called Breakthroughs. The name of the workshop is "Breakthroughs in Attitudes: Building a No Limit 'Can Do' Attitude." Participants will learn how to remove barriers that block personal performance. They will learn how to stay focused, and concentrate on what's important. They will learn how to "transform possibilities into realities."

The workshop will be held on November 9, at the Douglas County Events Centers at the Fairgrounds in Castle Rock. The cost is $50 per participant. The program lasts from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Checks should go to either of the Rotary Clubs of Castle Rock, or to the Castle Rock Chamber of Commerce. They need to be in by Thursday, November 8 at the latest.

I've heard a Breakthroughs presentation before, and have to say that it's well worth the money. A comparable workshop would ordinarily run ten times this amount.

But Breakthroughs is donating their time and materials. So the proceeds will go to two local causes: the Leadership Douglas County program, and a contribution toward a sculpture for the new Philip S. Miller Library.

So there you have it, an opportunity to learn more about the most personal side of your job, improve the leadership in your community, and contribute to something that nourishes the soul.

I haven't heard of such a good deal since, well, since the last time I went to the library.

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