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People Are Good

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

—Romans 5:12

I’ve found a new favorite book.

It’s titled Humankind: A Hopeful History, by Rutger Bregman. You may have to search for it, because it threatens too many conventional assumptions from our educational, political, economic, and spiritual upbringings. The book’s thesis is simple: People, it turns out, are pretty much always GOOD.

Here’s an excerpt from the book’s opening pages:

This is a book about a radical idea. An idea that has long been known to make rulers nervous. An idea denied by religions and ideologies, ignored by the news media, and erased from the annals of world history.

At the same time, it’s an idea that’s legitimized by virtually every branch of science. One that’s corroborated by evolution and confirmed by everyday life. An idea so intrinsic to human nature that it goes unnoticed and gets overlooked.

So, what is this radical idea?

That most people, deep down, are pretty decent.

Human perception of society is an interesting topic. Is there a difference between society as we perceive it and society as it really is? Bregman argues that yes, there is.

In the book’s opening pages the author describes two scenarios involving the emergency landing of a commercial airplane. In the first instance the passengers look out for each other, helping those who need it most, despite the danger and risk, before exiting the plane themselves. In the second scenario, chaos reigns as everyone fends for themselves. Survival becomes personal, and competitive.

When asked which world we live in, research indicates that most people believe modern society is best represented by the second scenario, which is governed by self-serving chaos. But Bregman goes on to demonstrate through multiple historic examples that we actually live in a world best represented by the first scenario:

There is a persistent myth that by their very nature humans are selfish, aggressive, and quick to panic. It’s what Dutch biologist Frans de Waal calls “veneer theory”: the notion that civilization is nothing more than a thin veneer that will crack at the merest provocation. In actuality, the opposite is true. It’s when crisis hits—when the bombs fall, or the floodwaters rise—that we humans become our best selves.

Take, for example, Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged New Orleans in August of 2005. In the days that followed, Bregman writes, 80 percent of the city was flooded. Later that week, multiple national media outlets led with headlines of shootings and violence. Society turned on itself, it was reported. “What angers me the most is that disasters like this often bring out the worst in people,” said the governor of Louisiana.

As it turns out, none of these morbid reports and expectations proved to be true. In fact, just the opposite occurred. Across the city people banded together to support and serve each other, even when their own safety and best interests were at risk. “Katrina didn’t see New Orleans overrun with self-interest and anarchy,” Bregman writes. “Rather, the city was inundated with courage and charity.”

In the months that followed, the chief of police was forced to admit that during the storm’s aftermath, he couldn’t point to a single official case of violent crime.

***

So, what about Bregman’s theory in the context of business management? The traditional command-and-control model reinforces the need for constant and close supervision. People must be actively monitored, measured, and watched to achieve peak performance. Left to their own volition, workers would surely slack off and slow down. Quality would be compromised. Productivity would fall.

What is the assumption behind this perspective? It’s the very set of false premises Bregman describes. The case for supervision is that people cannot be trusted, on their own, to do what’s right.

Well, that is not what I’ve seen at Hancock Lumber. For a decade we have been pursuing a work culture that disperses power, shares leadership, and reduces the layers of management oversight. In place of supervision, we’ve encouraged people to trust their own voice, use their best judgment, make their own decisions, and be their authentic selves. The results have been consistently positive. The more we’ve trusted our people at work, the better they’ve performed—the exact opposite of conventional wisdom. Time and again, when leadership was shared and the work was self-directed, at the source, the company benefited. The less we supervised, the more we excelled.

Imagine two companies from the same region in an identical industry. At one corporation the prevailing belief is that people are good. In the other company the belief is that humanity is held together by the thinnest of threads and that we are but one misstep away from savagery and chaos. How would each company structure itself based on its view of humanity?

What you expect dictates what you see and how you respond. The expectation drives the outcome. Our entire global model of hierarchy and control assumes that modern humans have descended from a self-serving, survival-of-the-fittest world. But the truth is, those assumptions are wrong.

Take an extreme example, like Nazi Germany. Why did Germans soldiers, in the final months of the war, fight so hard for such a horrid cause?

Once again, Bregman’s book provides the answer. Across hundreds of interviews with former Third Reich soldiers, the answer was clear: German soldiers kept fighting to save the lives of their buddies in the trenches beside them. They weren’t fighting for Hitler. Instead, they carried on for their neighbor, their bunkmate, the fellow human at their side.

Another poignant example from World War II supports Bregman’s claim, as well. It comes from one of the most well-known victims of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, Anne Frank, who wrote, “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death.”

As Anne Frank believed, humans are most always good! This simple truth calls for rethinking centuries of established protocol about social, political, educational, religious, and corporate best practices regarding leadership, control, and oversight. If humans are good, they can be trusted, empowered, and self-guided. If humans are good, they can most often lead themselves.

Watching the evening news may leave you feeling more attuned to reality, but the truth is that it skews your view of the world. The news tends to generalize people into groups like politicians, elites, racists, and refugees. Worse, the news zooms in on the bad apples. The same is true of social media. It’s by tapping into our negativity bias that these digital platforms make their money, turning higher profits the worse people behave.

—Rutger Bregman

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. 

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

 

The book’s thesis is simple: People, it turns out, are pretty much always GOOD.




Everyone Is King

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line.”

—Lucille Ball

 

In January of 1988 I drove from Bowdoin College to Bridgton Academy to interview for a teaching and coaching job.

Upon arrival I found myself sitting on the less powerful side of a large oak desk. Bob Walker, the headmaster, sat opposite me. He greeted me warmly, then paused to light his pipe. Time took a backseat as Mr. Walker puffed the tobacco to life. A cloud of smoke gently rose and separated us before drifting away. Once he was satisfied, he turned his attention my way.

The interview went as I had anticipated, until the final question. I was prepared to teach American history, having studied it. I felt qualified to coach the basketball team, having played it. But his final query caught me off guard.

“Kevin, we also have a Russian and Soviet history teaching position that needs to be filled. Can you teach that as well?”

I paused, but only momentarily.

“Yes, sir, I can.”

It didn’t seem to bother Mr. Walker that I had never studied Russian history.

“Well, then, I guess you’re hired,” he replied.

***

As it turned out, my first year of teaching would be Mr. Walker’s last. He retired that spring, ending a distinguished career.

In the 1989 school yearbook, the affable, tweed-jacketed, pipe-smoking headmaster wrote the following message to the student body:

I ask you to take heart in the living of your life, to continue the human tradition of courage and unconquerable spirit. Toward attaining and maintaining these attributes I offer the following suggestions:

#1. Be a friend to your fellow man.

#2. Be willing to try new things. Seek them out.

#3. Be a person of quality. Choose excellence in whatever you do.

#4. Develop a good self-image. Give yourself credit for your worth.

Below his short yet powerful message, Headmaster Walker added an excerpt from a poem by Emily Dickinson:

We never know how high we are

Till we are called to rise;

And then, if we are true to plan,

Our statures touch the skies—

The Heroism we recite

Would be a daily thing,

Did not ourselves the Cubits warp

For fear to be King—

Mr. Walker then closed with a final challenge:

As you leave Bridgton Academy, I ask you never to fear to be king.

Several weeks ago, I found myself thumbing through that very yearbook. As a twenty-three-year-old first-year teacher, Mr. Walker’s message had not caught my attention. Yet now, over thirty years later, his guidance resonated and gave me pause.

Develop a good self-image. Give yourself credit for your worth.

Wow, I whispered to myself. How powerful! Could there be a more poignant piece of advice? Mr. Walker’s humble guidance cut to the heart of the human challenge of acknowledging the sacredness that dwells within us all. The Sioux refer to every child as being Wakan Yeja (sacred and holy).

I ask you never to fear to be king.

Hierarchy has dominated human society since the birth of agriculture. Implied in that hierarchy is the superiority of those at the top of the religious, political, racial, or economic ladder. Through this superiority, their stories suggest, comes the right to rule and direct others.

The consequences of this false hierarchy are highly visible in many places today, including the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. For generations, the people who lived there were systematically indoctrinated into feeling they were inferior. They were taught to never expect to be king.

My good friend Catherine Grey Day perhaps said it best one evening when she shared the following: “It’s just about being worn down, generation after generation. The cavalry, the missionaries, the government, the boarding schools—you wake up one day and it has all been internalized. When you have been oppressed over generations, it finally takes hold. The oppression takes hold within you, and we act out the oppression on ourselves. That is how deeply it has been ingrained.”

The goal of a new, shared leadership model is to help everyone to claim their rightful place as king. There may always be high priests, professors, chief executives, and presidents, but the way they use their influence must change.

It’s time to redefine what it means to be king. This title belongs to us all at birth. As the Sioux say, every child is sacred and holy. Every child is king. But for this reality to manifest, we must help others recognize where the right to be king resides. Claiming this title is an inside job. In the end, you must bestow the honor upon yourself.

“Give yourself credit for your worth,” Mr. Walker reminded us. “Never fear to be king.”

 

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.”

—Coco Chanel

 

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. 

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Strength for Your Purpose

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.

Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm at the end
as at the beginning.

He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things.

―Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

 

I recently did a podcast with Dr. Phil Finemore. The title of his weekly series is Strength for Your Purpose, and we quickly found a shared affinity for encouraging others to embrace their authentic voice. I found Phil’s personal mission—to “help busy Maine professionals achieve the mental, emotional, and physical strength they need to fulfill their true purpose in life”—both timely and compelling. I have long been an advocate for “putting work back in its place.” Our jobs should be important, but not all-consuming. Work should be energy-giving, not draining. Work should enhance the lives of the people who do it.

Of course, historically, this has not always been so. I remember early in my career putting excessive energy into my work and exhausting everyone around me, myself included.

Millions of Americans can relate to this. Work has often been draining for the people who do it, and the very ethos of a job well done has encouraged discomfort in the workplace. Somewhere on the road to “bigger, better, more,” corporate executives convince themselves that competing at an elite level requires anxiety and stress, pushing and prodding, yelling and intimidating. Excellence requires tension.

It turns out that none of this is true, or even helpful. In fact, the key to organizational excellence lies in creating the opposite kind of culture, focusing on removing the tension and helping everyone to relax and be themselves. That’s the path to twenty-first-century business excellence.

Our first mission at Hancock Lumber is to enable everyone at work to feel trusted, respected, valued, heard, and safe. Said differently, the goal is to eliminate the stress. This work culture did not come easy; it took a decade to develop. Managers and supervisors have long been trained to associate stress as a prerequisite to business success, which can make it hard to fathom an alternate possibility. How can we be market leaders without pushing ourselves to the brink? How can we be globally competitive with respect to cost or productivity without extracting every ounce of energy from the team?

I recently sat with a group of Hancock Lumber employees and my question to the group was a simple one:

How does your work experience at Hancock Lumber impact your non-work life?

Here are just a few of the responses:

  • Personally, I’m just generally happier with work—which makes everything that much better.
  • It’s a great feeling to wake up on the weekend and have energy for your day, and your family.
  • I’m not a reactionary person anymore. I’ve been described at home now as patient and calm. This is all because of the people I’m around at work every day. Everyone at work is there for each other, and that just carries over.
  • I’m not going home all stressed out.
  • There is much less decompression time required after work than there used to be with my former company.
  • It’s just the energy. My old company was a pit of despair; everyone was just so unhappy. Here I have energy to go home and do stuff and stay active.

Achieving peacefulness at work is not hard. It simply takes a new set of priorities and a fresh perspective. Do the employees exist to serve the company, or does the company exist to serve the people who work there? I believe the latter should be the case. When a company first adds value to the lives of their employees, the company will soar on the wings of the thriving humans at work.

I recently told one of our top executives that my goal in our work relationship was to never make him do anything he didn’t want to do. Immediately I realized how different that statement was from the traditional approach. In my younger days my entire focus was on how to get people to do things they really didn’t want to do. It goes without saying that this created average results at best.

When people know they will not be bullied or coerced at work, they feel safe. When people feel safe, they act authentically. When people act authentically, they thrive. I can’t remember the last time I saw someone at Hancock Lumber raise their voice or even interrupt someone.

World-class business performance can be calm.

World-class business performance can be energy-giving.

Work should enhance the lives of the people who do it!

For more on transforming corporate culture, click the here to watch my podcast with Dr. Finemore.

__________

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




The Art of the Comeback

“To have a comeback you have to have a setback.”

—Mr. T

Falmouth High School—January 1983. I jump for a rebound. The next thing I know, I’m lying on the court, clutching my right shoulder in extreme pain. I would learn an hour later at the hospital that I’d dislocated my shoulder.

Shoulders are pretty important for basketball. As it turned out, I would miss the final month of my junior-year season before rejoining the team for a deep play-off run.

Deering High School—November 1983. It’s the last quarter of the final preseason game of my senior year. My team (Lake Region) secures a rebound and we’re off on a fast break. I am ahead of the pack and my brother lofts a strong and accurate pass my way. I jump to catch it on the run. The next thing I know, I’m lying on the court, clutching my right knee in extreme pain.

I would learn three days later that I had a complete tear of my ACL. Knees are pretty important for basketball. Surgery was next. I would miss my entire senior season.

Bowdoin College—February 1987. Morrell Gymnasium is full as it always is for Colby vs. Bowdoin. The game is tied at 88 as the final seconds tick off the clock. Our point guard Chris has the ball out beyond the top of the key. I’m in the right corner behind the 3-point line. All the other Bowdoin players are on the left-hand side of the court. This is an isolation play. Either we score at the buzzer, or the game goes into overtime.

Chris penetrates the gap in front of me. My defender leaves for a split second to help. At that moment Chris passes me the ball. As soon as I’ve caught it I’m airborne, releasing my jump shot. Everything goes into slow motion and then the ball backspins its way through the hoop. It is my 30th point of the game, and Bowdoin wins, 91–88. Players and fans rush the court.

It is the pinnacle of my basketball comeback from not one but two devastating injuries.

Between the moment of crashing to the floor at Deering High School with a torn ACL and sinking that shot in the final game of my junior-year season at Bowdoin came thousands of hours of rehab, recovery, and practice. Never during those three years was the result certain. Although the process was filled with setbacks, highs, lows, and lots of work, it never occurred to me to stop playing. That option never entered my mind. I was determined to be a multiyear college starter at Bowdoin, and with lots of help along the way, I pulled it off.

I have other comeback stories as well. Quite a few of them dot my life.

You have them too. Each one of them has explored and altered the universe. The meaning of the past and the trajectory of the future change every time a comeback occurs.

Setbacks are prerequisites for comebacks. There is no light without the dark. This is how human life on Earth is wired. The human experience is a never-ending dance between setbacks and comebacks, and it’s how we embrace them that determines our course.

I do not know a single human life that has been nonstop smooth sailing. Some may look that way, but that’s only because you are not seeing the full story. Every human life is a series of comebacks. If you think you’ve failed to prevail after misfortune, this only confirms that your comeback story is not over yet. There is no time limit. If you are alive, the comeback is still in play. It’s never too late to make a move, and, conversely, it is never too late to have another challenge come your way.

Comebacks are an example of our oneness with the universe. The future is always being written, created, and designed by us. We are the future, and we are the past.

Comebacks do not just change the future; they can also change the past.

My knee injury was devastating in that moment. For a short time, I was despondent. I saw no good in it at all. Today, I look at that twelve-inch incision scar on my right leg and smile. That torn ACL was one of the very best things that ever happened to me. I grew and gained so much more from it than I lost. In this way, I changed the past. My knee injury went from being a curse to a blessing because of how I chose to respond to it. My approach to the future gave a different meaning and value to something from the past.

The setback is the opportunity.

There is no comeback without the setback.

The value of what’s seemingly in the past is still to be determined—by you.

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future. www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

 




Strength For Your Purpose Podcast

Strength for your PurposeIn this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Strength For Your Purpose Podcast host Dr. Phil Finemore about shared leadership and dispersed power. They discuss Kevin’s journey and how he came to his philosophy that power should be dispersed. Kevin shares the outcomes for the company and the employees who work for Hancock Lumber. Finally, they discuss the ways that other people can strengthen and empower the voices of those around them – whether at work, or beyond.

“Every single person in our company knows more about their job than I do. They live it every day. So, to really make it safe for people to own their part of the company and lead it and improve it.. when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Click here to watch a video of the podcast interview.




Look at Me, Daddy!

“No elementary phenomenon is a phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon.”

—John Wheeler, physicist

Alison and I have been married for thirty-two years. During that time, we have had four dogs, all yellow Labs. Bowdoin, Tampa, Tucker, and Scout are their names. Only the last of which is still with us today.

Most dogs love people, but yellow Labs really love people. Wherever you are is where they want to be. Whatever you are doing is what they want to do.

Our current lab, Scout, has a favorite treat. We call it a “bully stick”. It’s a long, slender piece of rawhide that he ritualistically upon receipt carries proudly around the house before hunkering down and consuming it, a dramatic process that takes about twenty minutes.

In keeping with the subject of oneness (the awareness that separateness is an illusion), what fascinates me about Scout and his bully stick is that he experiences it differently when he knows he’s being watched versus when he thinks no one is watching.

When he first receives the treat, it’s clear to him that he is being observed. The ceremonial handover comes with praise, so he appreciates the attention as well. In those early moments, when all eyes are upon him, Scout has never stood taller, pranced more crisply, or exuded more confidence and pride. His tail is wagging, and he makes this odd groaning sound of pleasure. It’s not just the bully stick that excites him. It’s the act of us giving him the bully stick and then watching him with it that puts him on such a high.

Invariably, however, we move on to other things before Scout finishes his treat. We  engage in other activities—talking, cooking, reading, or even leaving the room. At that moment, when our direct attention evaporates, Scout’s demeanor changes. He still has the bully stick, and he will eat it, but the prideful prancing puppy morphs back into a creature of normal size and enthusiasm. The bully stick itself transforms from a veritable piece of gold bullion to something that’s better than nothing to gnaw on and consume.

The bully stick alone does not set Scout off. It’s us watching him with the bully stick that gives the moment its heightened meaning.

Observing the world around us changes the world around us. This is one of the most fundamental, yet complex, realities for humans to understand. To know this is to learn to see the world anew.

***

Look at me, Daddy!

Watch this, Daddy!

Hey, Daddy, want to watch me dress this doll? Dribble this ball? See how fast I can run?

These are some of my favorite, unforgettable phrases from our daughters’ childhood.

Children love to be watched by their parents, grandparents, family, and friends. The act of being watched gives the ordinary extraordinary meaning.

It was the same for me as an athlete. On the basketball court, when I sank a shot in practice it was just another shot. But if my coach happened to see it and say Nice shot, Kevin, then that same shot suddenly became more meaningful and important.

***

American physicist John Wheeler came to describe our world as a “participatory universe.” Whenever we engage the universe (which is always), the universe is impacted; it changes.

Additionally, how we are feeling when we engage a piece of the universe dictates how that segment of the universe will appear and even respond.

As the writer Gregg Braden says, “Experimental evidence is leading to a conclusion that we’re creating the universe as we go and adding to what already exists! In other words, we appear to be the very energy that’s forming the cosmos, as well as the beings who experience what we’re creating. That’s because we are consciousness, and consciousness appears to be the same ‘stuff’ from which the universe is made.”
Observing is creating. The emotions we bring to what we observe influence what is created.  This is the essence of a “participatory universe”.

The truth is that the feelings, emotions, and expectations one has while observing impacts—you might even say, creates—what we see. I’ve stood in a certain place and seen my surroundings as amazing and, at a different time, seen the exact same surroundings as dull and ordinary. In each case, I created the mood that defined the scene. In this way, each of us is a piece of the hand of God. The world around us morphs to fit that which we feel. In a world in which everything is related and interconnected the feelings and intentions of the viewer impact that which is being viewed.

 

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

 




Five Flashbacks

Flashback #1: Our daughter Abby is five years old, and blindfolded. In the middle of the screened-in porch hangs a piñata. It’s a colorful donkey twirling gently in the breeze. In her hands Abby holds a yellow Wiffle bat commandeered from the garage.

Abby swings and misses, yet all the other children cheer, confident in her eventual success.

Abby swings again, striking nothing but air. This happens multiple times but there is no loss of confidence. Despite the fact that she can see only darkness, she is sure her target is there. She has faith in the existence of something she cannot see.

(The unrelated end of this story is that she did ultimately strike the piñata, successfully breaking it open, to the delight of all. What her mother and I hadn’t realized, however, was that the piñata was empty. You had to manually fill it with candy from the opening near the tail. We missed that part. We often don’t act upon that which we cannot see.)

***

Flashback #2: A few months later I am walking by our youngest daughter Sydney’s bedroom. She is two and a half years old. Her door is closed, but I can hear her inside, talking a mile a minute. Curious, I crack open the door and pop my head into her room.

“Hey, Syd, what are you doing?” I ask.

“I’m talking to Papa,” she replies, without looking up from her spot on the floor, where her toys are spread in front of her.

I slowly close the door.

Papa (her grandfather) had died just a few weeks before.

***

Flashback #3: It’s a generation earlier, and this time, I am the child.

I’m in our basement, alone, with a small basketball. Near the far wall, on a table by the bulkhead door, is an old wooden bucket for making ice cream.

My sneakers are tied tight as I make a reverse dribble around one of the posts holding up the house above before crossing over and launching a shot.

Swish!

The ball rattles its way to the bottom of the ice-cream bucket.

Moments later I steal the ball even though there is no one else in the basement.

In my mind and heart, I’m playing a college basketball game on national television and I am the star. In that moment, it could not be more real.

***

Flashback #4: It’s March of 1996, and Mark Hopkins has been hired to work at the sales counter of the Hancock Lumber store in Yarmouth, Maine.

Mark has the goal of building a leadership career at the company, so he excels in this role, with a larger goal in mind. Soon, his dedication is noticed, and eventually he is promoted. Mark continues to employ the same approach with his next role, and the next, and the next.

Twenty years later, Mark becomes the chief operating officer of the entire company.

He has created his own reality.

***

Flashback #5: In 2010 I acquire a rare neurological voice disorder called spasmodic dysphonia. Suddenly, the simple act of speaking has become a difficult chore. This limitation initially sets me reeling. How am I going to be effective as a CEO without being able to talk all the time? Will I even be able to keep my job? Surely my value to the company will lessen . . .

Within two years I am convinced that the disorder is a blessing, gift, and invitation from my spirit guides to live and lead differently. Dispersing power within organizations and strengthening the voices of others soon becomes my personal work mission.

The company begins to soar, rewriting its entire record book repeatedly on the wings of employees who feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard.

I, too, have created a new reality.

***

“A growing body of research suggests that we [humans] are more than cosmic latecomers simply passing through a universe that was completed long ago. Experimental evidence is leading to a conclusion that we’re creating the universe as we go and adding to what already exists. In other words, we appear to be the very energy that’s forming the cosmos, as well as the beings who experience what we’re creating. That’s because we are consciousness, and consciousness appears to be the same ‘stuff’ from which the universe is made.”

—Gregg Braden, The Divine Matrix

In the early decades of the twenty-first century, science is leading the way in recognizing that there is an energy field we can’t fully see, uniting and connecting us all. What is more, we humans are at least in part empowering and directing that field with our own thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.

It’s now starting to look like that which we cannot see is what’s real.

 

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Oneness Demands Freedom

“If one person in your family commits a crime, the entire family must be purged.”

“When you have food in your stomach you can think about the meaning of life, but when you are starving, all you can think about is hunger.”

“I never saw a map of the world. As an Asian I didn’t even know I was Asian. I didn’t know who Jesus was.”

“My father went to prison because he collected and sold metal from trash. Trading in any form is illegal—so that you can’t be self-reliant.”

“It is not like leaving any other country. It’s more like leaving another universe.”

These are quotes from North Koreans who escaped North Korea.

Imagine having to “escape” your homeland. Lots of people do.

How is it that such an inhumane and repressive regime (Kim Jong-un’s North Korea) is allowed to exist? How is it that 7.7 billion humans not living in North Korea tolerate 25 million of their brethren being subjugated to such abuse, oppression, hunger, violence, and disregard? Why is that allowed?

North Korea is a place so foreign to many of our experiences that we struggle to fully fathom its existence and severity. It’s a place where large segments of the population are purposefully kept at starvation levels so that the physical, mental, and emotional energy required for consciousness and free choice are surrendered to the necessities of daily survival. It’s a place where humanitarian aid is intentionally rejected because keeping the populace weak is essential to the regime’s survival. It’s a place of brutal prisons and public executions that can come for anyone at any time. Fact or fiction is irrelevant when it comes to your guilt or punishment. If the wrong people blame you, you’re guilty. It’s a place where the leader alone is exalted as holy. It’s a place surrounded by barbed wire. And as always is the case with repressive regimes, it’s a government created in the name of the people.

How is such an overtly evil institution still in existence in the twenty-first century? How does humanity allow it to endure?

The answer is that a critical mass of humanity still does not see and act upon the oneness that binds us all. Instead, we continue to first honor the historic patterns of regionalism, bound by the narrow interests of our own borders. This manifests in the limited power of global organizations. Countries are still the dominant governing structure, even though our problems and opportunities are increasingly all-inclusive in scope. When your planet faces global challenges but is primarily governed by regional interests, you get global ineffectiveness.

Borders are an example of how humans create their own realities. The border between North and South Korea did not exist until 1945, when the country was divided upon the Japanese surrender ending World War II. The Soviet Union occupied the North and the United States, the South.

Today millions of otherwise amazing Koreans suffer barely tolerable conditions only because they were born north of a line that is only real if other humans allow it to be so. If people were being treated the same way in Kansas or the British countryside, it would not stand. North Korea may seem far, far away to many, but viewed from Mars we all look alike and comprise one barely visible tribe on a tiny spiraling planet.

In the fall of last year JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon was in Hong Kong celebrating his company’s 100th anniversary. It also happened to be the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. At a business gathering Mr. Dimon made the following simple statement: “And I’ll make a bet we last longer [than the Chinese Communist Party]. But I can’t say that in China,” he continued. “They’re probably listening anyway.”

The very next day Mr. Dimon apologized for his remarks, and the JPMorgan communications team went to work making amends.

Why?

Money.

Like most global firms, China is a big market for JPMorgan. The Chinese Communist Party punishes firms that speak negatively about them and rewards those that don’t.

The Chinese people are amazing. Chinese culture enriches the world. The same is true for the Korean people, but in both cases—and in different ways—their ruling political elite intentionally restrict freedom for the people they rule. I am not comparing the two governments other than to say that they each have their own strategies for limiting freedom of movement, expression, and voice.

In Korea’s extreme case, we tolerate it. In China’s typically more-nuanced case, we fund it. As long as the power of money prevails over freedom, freedom will be outweighed.

Humans are conscious beings, and as such, we create our own realities. Therefore, North Koreans live in terror, facing extreme poverty, hunger, and unfathomable repression.

Humanity is not free so long as we allow invisible, arbitrary lines to decide which subgroups get to be free. And as long as such lines exist, they can always be redrawn to include you.

Pink Floyd’s First New Recording in Nearly 30 Years Was Inspired by a Lone Ukrainian Musician
“Hey, Hey, Rise Up” features Andriy Khlyvnyuk of Ukrainian band Boombox on vocals and the song will raise money for a Ukrainian charity. Click the player box above to listen to the song, and hear more about the story behind this inspiration in this recent article published in Rolling Stone Magazine.

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Safe Space Podcast

Safe SpaceIn this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Safe Space host Franco Lombardo about successfully running a business without speaking. They discuss Kevin’s journey, from losing his voice to finding it again and the lessons he learned along the way. Kevin talks about the successes gained from listening, empowering voices, and sharing leadership throughout the organization. He also encourages other business leaders to try dispersing power. The results can improve the lives of employees, increase employee engagement, create a higher level of customer service, and allow the company to thrive.

Click here to listen to part 1 of the podcast.

Click here to listen to part 2 of the podcast.




Practice Accentuates Oneness

“If you want to be a champion you’ve got to feel like one, you’ve got to look like one, you’ve got to act like one.”

—Red Auerbach

John Kohtala was the best jump shooter I ever met. If he could get his right elbow above your left defensive hand, he was going to shoot, and it was, most likely, going to go in.

He was also, for me, the essence of what basketball was all about in the 1980s. Everybody who played basketball in Maine in those days knew, or knew of, John Kohtala. He grew up on a modest family blueberry farm in Vienna, southeast of Farmington. He went to Mt. Blue High School, where he led the state in scoring his senior year, and then played at Maine Central Institute prep school, University of Maine at Farmington, and University of Maine at Machias.

I remember watching him play at the Portland Expo in a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics regional championship game. The arena, which then included traditional wooden bleachers, was sold out. I was standing in a corner near the baseline the entire game, knowing exactly what he was going to do each time he touched the ball. I predicted his shots before anyone on the other team knew what was coming.

Swish.

Swish.

Swish.

How did I know what he was going to do before anyone else, except perhaps his brother Ed?

Because by then I had played with and against him more than five hundred times. In addition, I had shot jump shots with him (just the two of us) perhaps an additional five hundred times.

Where did one thousand basketball experiences with a single player occur?

Mostly at Hoop Basketball Camp on Pleasant Lake in Casco, where John and I worked together for eight summers during college, and then as coaches beyond that. I would often lovingly tease John that no one worked at Hoop Camp longer than he did because no one took longer to get through college than he did. (Not because he wasn’t super smart—he was—he just took his time and enjoyed it!)

Anyway, John was not only the best jump shooter I ever saw, but he was also the hardest-working preparer I ever saw. I practiced a lot, but I never saw anyone practice more, or harder, than John.

In those days you practiced by yourself. Today, in the age of the Amateur Athletic Union and travel leagues, that’s a foreign concept, but back then you practiced by yourself or with perhaps one partner. It was just you, a hoop, and a ball. No one watching. No one coaching. No one correcting. No one cheering. Just you, alone, practicing. And no one did it more consistently than John.

***

I could go on and on about John, but here’s the point in the context of seeing the oneness that surrounds, connects, unites, and differentiates us all: The very concept of practice is human evidence of oneness.

How do you become world-class at shooting a jump shot, playing a violin, flying a fighter jet, guiding elk hunts, performing ballet, engaging in forestry, or tossing a Frisbee?

You practice. And then you practice some more.

What is practice?

I had done it my whole life without ever thinking about its implications with respect to the fundamental connectivity that governs the universe. Practice is synchronizing your body with other elements of the universe by virtue of your repeated interaction with those elements.

A jump shot requires intimate understanding of a leather-wrapped, air-filled ball. Your fingertips are the only points of contact. But each ball, despite the quest for consistency, has a little more or a little less air than the next—or it is newer, cleaner, or dustier than others.

Additionally, you must intuitively come to know your space on the court and how far that places you from the hoop. Each hoop is designed to be ten feet above the playing surface, but some are ever so slightly higher or lower. How tightly the rim is secured to the backboard determines how much “give” or bounce that rim will provide. I played college ball at Bowdoin, and the east-facing rim was always less forgiving than the west-facing rim. How did I know that? Thousands and thousands of shots at both rims.

Practice brings the one who does it into alignment with elements of nature beyond your own body. You synchronize with them over time through repetition and focus. You become one with the ball, the court, and the hoop.

This is how the world works. We constantly connect and intertwine ourselves with other elements, both animate and inanimate. And, through practice (focused repetition), we create our own futures.

John Kohtala, coming from a rural blueberry farm, created a future in which he was the best jump shooter in the State of Maine.

How did he create that future?

First came a mental (conscious) choice to dedicate himself. Then came practice.

Practice accentuates oneness.

***

John has since crossed over to what the Sioux refer to as the “world that lives beside this one,” but thanks to the oneness of our universe, I’m with him regularly. I see his smile, hear his voice, feel his love, and cherish his values.

John back in the day with Amy.

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Oneness Isn’t Sameness

“It takes a lot of different flowers to make a bouquet.”

—Ancient Islamic proverb

I can still picture the world from my dad’s shoulders.

I’m two and a half years old and he has an ankle in each hand. My head is above his and I feel as if I’m on top of the world as we move in unison down the dirt road, surrounded by pines.

After a time, my dad breaks the silence and begins his favorite poem:

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost is a poem I have already memorized as a result of my dad’s frequent recitations when we walk together in this way.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

I join in and then fall back into silence before asking if we can recite the poem again.

Which, of course, we do.

***

My dad and I grew up in the same village, went to the same college, began careers in the same profession (education), felt called back into the same family business, and ultimately would progress to occupy the same role, as president and then CEO of Hancock Lumber Company (barely twenty years apart).

There are a lot of common trajectories here. Yet no one who knew us both would say that we are the same person.

Related, yes.

Similar (in some ways), yes.

But the same person, no.

***

We all grow up in a tribe, and the moment and place of our birth pull on us to think and act a certain way. Yet we’re all here, living a life on Earth, with the goals of individuation and self-actualization. We’re each trying to find and make peace with our own true voice.

Since Hancock Lumber’s inception in the 1840s, our company has sawn hundreds of millions of eastern white pine logs into boards. Across that span of time no two logs have ever been the same.

The same is true for people. No two are ever the same. Similar, yes. The same, never.

It is estimated that approximately 110 billion people have lived since the dawn of human time—only about 6 percent of which are alive today. That’s a fascinating contemplation in and of itself.

Across that continuum, no single human life has ever been experienced identically, and this is where the power of our collective human experience lies. Honoring each of us exactly as we are marks the ultimate evolutionary progression of society. The sacred energy of creation manifests in countless iterations. The universe, it turns out, is simultaneously an exercise in sameness and diversity. Could this be how the universe explores itself, learns, and grows?

Now think about the history of human institutions. They’ve almost always sided with conformity. They recite the same anthem. Worship the same god. Perform the same tasks in the prescribed manner. Lots of effort goes into conformity. And while a degree of common understanding and rulemaking is necessary in order for a society to function optimally, what we really need to be teaching, encouraging, and honoring is uniqueness in the form of authentic self-expression and self-actualization. Every person is different by design, but many of our human organizations have historically pursued a counter-objective.

***

Kevin walking on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

As it turned out, my dad and I worked together at Hancock Lumber only briefly, as he passed in 1997. I’ve occasionally wondered how that experience would have played out for us if it had lasted longer. Even after his passing, I spent a good bit of time following in his footsteps.

It was not until I acquired my voice disorder (spasmodic dysphonia) and began traveling to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that I truly found my voice and started my own leadership journey—something I’m sure my dad has appreciated from what the Sioux call “the world that lives beside this one.”

It turned out that I had to veer off the family path in order to stay on it. It was only when I individuated that I began to accelerate, creating something new and adding the value that only I could bring to the world around me.

Ultimately, to celebrate our oneness we need to honor our differentiation.

All of this reminds me of my favorite Robert Frost poem:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

 

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

 

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

 




Corporate Oneness

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

—Joseph Campbell

 

It would be impossible to acknowledge the oneness that defines our universe and then go back to work as a supervisor, executive, or team leader and manage “employees” the old-fashioned way—barking out instructions with a heavy hand.

Workers historically have been commodities. Like inventory, machinery, and equipment, a work hour was something to be deployed, measured, and maximized for the good of the corporation. Workers existed to serve the company and did so at the will of those in charge. With a modern understanding of oneness in mind (the awareness that everything that exists is connected and interrelated), it’s helpful to take a fresh look at the place of work and the culture within it.

When you look at a business, what do you see?

All I see is people. I don’t see employees; I see human beings who have jobs. There’s a big difference here. As a CEO, all subsequent priorities and actions revolve around this first, essential realization.

In the world we live in, what you see determines what you get. If I were to see employees in a commoditized and dehumanized sense, then I would correspondingly see their work hours as company assets to be directed and controlled. Alternatively, if I were to see amazing human beings who voluntarily are devoting a portion of their time and talent to our company, then I would see them as guests and be thankful for their presence.

Oneness suggests that if one human is talented, all humans are talented. If one human has a valuable voice, then all humans have a valuable voice. If one human can lead, then all humans can lead. With this mind-set, managing the place of work gets much easier because you recognize that less central management is what’s required. When you see the oneness that binds the universe, you instantly see people in a different light. As one of my dear friends from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Verola Spider, is fond of saying, We are all related.

It is through this modern yet ancient wisdom that the business model flips and reinvents itself. The company begins to transform into an organization designed to serve the people who work there. The new purpose of the company is to make the place of work meaningful for the people who do it in more than just economic ways. The workplace becomes the venue where adults can grow, experiment, learn, laugh, love, test themselves, and self-actualize. As the humans at work thrive, the customer experience blossoms, and corporate performance takes off. Corporate success becomes the outcome of a higher calling.

Here, as always, the intent behind the mission matters. We are not prioritizing people at work so that the company will improve its performance. We are prioritizing the people at work because they are amazing human beings.

Corporate performance accelerates by worrying less about corporate performance.

***

What about corporate productivity, efficiency, best practices, and discipline?

My answer, founded upon a decade of empirical experience, is simple: When human engagement flourishes, all corporate metrics improve. Why do they improve? Because participation becomes voluntary—an act of free choice. When a company honors the people who work there, those people lift the company in return.

According to our safety coordinator, Gregg Speed, People are much more apt to support that which they help to create.

Voluntary self-engagement will outperform mandatory instruction-following, every time. If people feel valued at work and work becomes a place of meaning for those who do it, the reciprocal commitment to the needs of the company will grow in return.

Who carries the burden when work is inaccurate and inefficient?

Sure, the company pays the price, but ultimately, it’s the people doing the work who are victimized by the chaos. Everyone wants the work to be smooth and effective. You don’t need to force this on people.

When humans become the first focus at work, their experience becomes meaningful on a soul’s level. When their experience becomes meaningful, companies strengthen and grow on the wings of soaring humans. In this way, a company unexpectedly becomes great by putting itself second.

Check out this quick video featuring Taylor Davis, one of the amazing people who happens to work at Hancock Lumber.

***

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Shared Leadership Culture at Hancock Lumber

Below are 12 articles and podcasts that describe the outcome and impact of shared leadership in the workplace. Take a look at the excerpts below and click through to learn more. Thank you for joining our mission of shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices!

 

Work & Life with Stew Friedman

Work & Life with Stew Friedman

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Work and Life Podcast host Stew Friedman about the changes his leadership style and life underwent after losing his voice. Kevin shares how important changing way he approached leadership became and how strengthening the voices of others to help them find their true, authentic self became his life mission. He also talks about how Hancock Lumber has grown exponentially since sharing leadership and power in the organization. Kevin and Stew speak about the faults of having top-down management with power condensed at the top leadership.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

Employee-Centric Versus Capital-Centric Organizations with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Human Capital Innovations Podcast host Dr. John Westover about shared leadership and employee-centric organizations. They discuss the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of capital-centric organizations and how the shift to shared leadership has impacted Hancock Lumber.

We have been at it for over a decade, so we have very good empirical evidence. Our performance in every category we measure took off. What’s so interesting is, the performance took off when we made the people in the company, not the company, the first priority.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

The 7th Power – Shared Leadership with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Leadership Re-Imagined host Dr. Jane Lovas about his leadership philosophy and The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. They discuss how his leadership style changed from top-down to shared and dispersed power. He shares his story about how his leadership style so drastically changed and the business implications of this change. Kevin and Jane also discuss supply chains, buying patterns, and how Hancock Lumber hopes to challenge these norms.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.  

The Seventh Power – with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Being Human host Richard Atherton about his book The Seventh Power. They start by talking about how Kevin lost his voice and the journey that he undertook to Pine Ridge to find inner balance. He explains how this journey led him to the realization that other people’s voices are unique, others are capable of leading, and that leadership should be dispersed. Kevin and Richard also speak about how Hancock Lumber has flourished since his shift in leadership and how other companies can follow suit.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.  

The Breakfast Club Guest: Kevin Hancock

In this radio podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with The Breakfast Club host Mark about his career, his newest book, 48 Whispers, and his mission to empower and strengthen the voices of those around him. During Kevin’s life journey, he has adapted Hancock Lumber to create balance for the employees and ensure that their voices are heard in the company. Kevin also shares how he became involved with the Lakota at Pine Ridge and how this led to his idea of shared leadership.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

Success Made to Last

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with host Rick Tocquigny about shared leadership. Kevin describes how losing the full use of his speaking voice led him to Pine Ridge, where he discovered an entire community that did not feel heard. The two events convinced Kevin that each human is here on earth in a personal quest to find and share their own unique and never to be repeated voice. Unfortunately, across time leaders have done more to restrict the voices of others than to liberate them. Kevin takes these understandings and develops and deploys a new leadership model designed to push power out – away from the corporate center – and give everyone in the organization a leading voice. The result is a high performing corporate model in which business metrics soar as an outcome of a higher calling.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

Heart-Centered Sales Leader

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to host Connie Whitman about his book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. In his book, Kevin shares the philosophy, values and strategies Hancock Lumber Company has embraced on its journey toward becoming an employee-centric company. They also discuss the dangers of being a leader who micromanages a team and the effects this can have on self-worth, work ethic, and stress levels.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.  

Keep It Local Maine: Episode 29

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Keep It Local Maine hosts Kimberly and Todd Regoulinsky about his shared leadership philosophy and creating an employee-centric business model for Hancock Lumber. He shares the journey that brought him to this understanding and how important he feels investing in your employees is for the business and for the employee. He has created a culture where the leadership responsibilities are shared among everyone, meaning that solutions are coming from the people working inside the situations and not just upper management. Kevin can see the confidence that it helps build when everyone’s voice is respected, heard, and valued.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

We Need More From Business and It Starts With Listening

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with People At Work host Bev Attfield about his journey to finding an employee-centric business model and developing a workplace culture where everybody leads and every voice is respected, valued, and heard. Kevin shares how devastating feeling unheard can be, both in the workplace and in the community, and he has developed a way to embrace all voices at Hancock Lumber. By sharing the leadership responsibilities with everyone, Kevin has decentralized the power and spread it across everyone in the company. He shares the impact this has had, economically and socially, and how it can be utilized for any community, not just the workplace.

Click here to listen to (or read) the full interview.

We Believe in Shared Leadership

In this article, Kevin Hancock is interviewed about his progressive view on shared leadership. He shares how the lumber industry is often misunderstood and seen as outdated, but he says this is inaccurate. Everything from the technology inside the sawmills to the culture fostered at the company is modern and innovative. Kevin explains more about why the shared leadership, employee-first company model has been so successful.

“The company focuses on the employee experience, and in doing so, positions employees to really create a world-class customer experience.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.

Q&A: Company Culture, Productivity, and Retention: How Does Your Company Measure Up?

The Softwood Forest Products Buyer is reaching out to company leaders across the industry to solicit their input on key issues that impact overall business success. In this publication, Kevin Hancock shares his insights.

“Some organizations collect leadership power into the bureaucratic center, where a few people can make the majority of the decisions for the many. This is the traditional model of business—and government—leadership and, during a period of time in human history, this may have been optimal.

But, that time has passed. of cultures don’t see employees as expendable commodities whose purpose is to serve the company. In fact, these types of cultures flip the traditional script by recognizing that the company exists to serve the people who work there. In a great company, profit is an outcome of a higher calling. That higher calling is the celebration of the human spirit and human capacity. In this way, culture makes all the difference.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.

A Lesson in Leadership From the CEO of One of America’s Oldest Companies

In this interview, Kevin Hancock is asked specifically about his leadership style and how it differs from others. They also speak about how important your authentic voice is and why it is important to listen without judgment. Kevin highlights the importance of hearing voices besides your own, especially as a leader. By engaging others, their voice can start to be heard and they can become leaders as well.

Click here to read the full interview.




Keynote from the NHPA All-Industry Conference

Kevin Hancock recently keynoted the 2022 NHPA All-Industry Conference, co-located at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, part of a 3-day event featuring speakers and panels from industry experts and top-performing retailers. Attendees came away with numerous insights and best practices they can implement in their own businesses, including from Kevin Hancock’s keynote titled, “Employees First: Disrupting Assumptions for More Loyal Customers and Stronger Sales.”

Click here to watch and view the keynote presentation.




Digital Equality

In this article featured in the March 2022 NRLA Lumber Co-Operator, Kevin Hancock writes about digital equality in the workplace. Kevin explores the two groups of employees that the digital age has produced in lumberyards: the group that uses laptops and computers regularly and those that do not. He continues to write about how Hancock Lumber battles against the group with access to computers regularly having more power and knowledge than those who do not. Kevin shares how he has implemented a way to create equality between the two groups.

“I’ve become a strident believer in shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices. As a result, I oppose any element of our business structure that gives certain groups more power, information, or control over others. The truth is that every role in our company is critical and every individual is capable of leading.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to download a PDF of the article.

 




Two Thousand Years of Propaganda

The burial ground at the Wounded Knee Massacre site on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor

Go ahead and cheat a friend

Do it in the name of heaven

You can justify it in the end.

—One Tin Soldier

Why has acknowledging our universal connectivity and oneness been downplayed for so long?

The answer has two parts. First, only recently has scientific understanding advanced far enough to provide a glimpse at the underlying connectivity that binds everything in the universe through quantum physics and the study of matter in its smallest parts. Second, and today’s focus, is the fact that the existence of oneness challenges virtually all the propaganda deployed for centuries by emperors, executives, pious leaders, and politicians—call them the empire builders who consolidate power by emphasizing division and separateness.

Since the days of the Roman Empire, political, economic, religious, racial, and regional clusters of humans have banded together behind leaders who spin a narrative that says their group is special (and that other groups are dangerous). That imaginary “special” status is then used to justify taking dominion over others.

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”

—Martin Luther King Jr.

To see oneness is to recognize that everything that exists in the universe (both known and unknown) is related and interconnected—including yourself. The Sioux tribes of the northern plains call this understanding Mitakuye Oyasin,which translates as “All things are one thing.” Separateness as we experience it does not actually exist. It’s an illusion.

The presence of an ultimate creator source of the universe has long been identified by virtually all religious and spiritual disciplines as sacred and powerful. Too often, however, that “source” has also been described as separate, detached, and superior. But if it turns out that the source of this energy is present in all things, well, that means all things are also equally sacred and powerful. This would include all humans—regardless of sex, race, religion, or place of origin. If one human is sacred, then all humans are sacred. Conversely, if one human isn’t sacred, then none are. It’s all or nothing because everything is connected.

But that’s not the story you’ve most likely been told. It’s not the tale you’ve been spun. This natural truth of oneness is why it takes so much propaganda, rule-making, weapons, and fences for any small group to lead by virtue of their claim to a special status. That claim, it turns out, runs against the very fabric of the universe, to which we all belong.

“We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the poor heathen, all for the glory of God and the good of souls.”

—Frederick Douglass

Oneness shines light on the infamy of slavery.

Oneness exploits all rationale for genocide.

Oneness then pivots and defeats the cries for revenge.

Oneness melts any justification for centralized control and bureaucratic rule by a few over the many.

Oneness calls for dispersed power, shared leadership, and respect for all voices.

***

What change is required for the awareness of our shared connectivity to emerge as our primary organizing principle?

The answer is shared leadership and respect for all voices.

For the age of oneness to fully blossom, existing “leaders” must lower their own profiles and voluntarily distribute power. Everyone is sacred, powerful, and capable of leading.

In return, those who may feel destined to be followers must change as well. When the truth is revealed—that everyone is powerful—no one can sit on the sidelines and abdicate control.

Oneness demands engagement from everyone.

There won’t be any trumpets blowing

Come the judgment day

On the bloody morning after

One tin soldier rides away.

—One Tin Soldier

 

__________

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Reclaiming Your Voice with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Path11 Podcast host April Hannah about his newest book 48 Whispers and his journeys to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. They discuss the loss of Kevin’s voice and how it led him on a quest to find his center, regain his voice, and help strengthen the voices of those who have lost theirs. Through these experiences, Kevin began to learn more about shared leadership as a way to preserve his voice and uplift others. They also discuss spirituality, healing, and photography.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.




Voices Carry

Family Business Magazine captures Kevin’s journey and new leadership model in their March 2022 article, Voices Carry. Writer Margaret Sheen tells the story of Kevin losing his voice, the journey he went on to find his voice, and the lessons he learned along the way—and, ultimately, how those lessons translated into a new, modern leadership strategy at his seventh generation family company, Hancock Lumber. Kevin also shares his vision of what being an owner might look like without working directly in the business.

“In a traditional family business model, typically one or two family members really carry the load of responsibility. But in a model where everybody’s leading, it gives everybody more flexibility as well.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




You Get What You Feel

“The earth and myself are of one mind.”

—Chief Joseph

“Hey, Dad, what’s wrong?” one of our daughters asks.

Whenever I’m asked that question, I’m a tad disappointed (in myself), and yet fascinated by the intuition of the person who has spotted what I was trying to conceal.

We’re together as a family, so I’m happy! Yet parallel to that reality on this occasion, something else has a piece of my mind. As a result, I’m a bit distracted, not fully present. I don’t want anyone to know this, so I try to conceal the mood. Yet I still get caught and called out, almost every time, without fail. Ha!

They know me too well, I say to myself. It’s like they can feel my energy.

As it turns out, we can actually feel the energy of others, and if you contemplate this reality, you know it’s true.

How is that possible? Aren’t we each completely separate organisms with no physical or energetic connection to any other person, plant, or animal except ourselves?

Feeling the emotional and spiritual state of another happens by virtue of our oneness, our connectivity.

***

In recent decades modern physicists, particularly those working at the subatomic level, have uncovered the edge of a dramatic truth that was known thousands of years ago by most ancient indigenous societies. The universe (everything) is a single unified field of energy (“universe” = “unified”). In the space between the objects—say, between you and the nearest wall—you can see that there’s a force—a web or matrix, if you will—and it links us to all that has and shall exist.

This single field of energy contains all the learning, loss, laughter, tears, and emotions of all humanity across all human time. Therefore, every individual experience adds to the collective understanding of the whole. It’s what the Sioux tribes of the northern plains have referred to for generations as Mitakuye Oyasin, which translates as “All things are one thing.” Separateness, as we have come to perceive it, is an illusion. Recognizing this is the awareness that changes everything.

Emotional energy is not only detectable, but contagious and transferable.

I coached basketball for many years and made this understanding a priority in my approach. If I was nervous, I knew the team would reflect that emotion. If I lacked confidence, so would they. Conversely, if I was enthusiastic and having fun, they would follow suit. Our energy as a team was interconnected. In fact, I’ve never been on a team that didn’t share a common energy bond during any given moment in a game or practice.

I’ve seen this in business as well. Our company operates out of sixteen locations, and every one of them takes on the personality of the management team on-site.

All the energy of the universe is interconnected, including your own.

But here’s the most unexpected and transformational part of this story: When it comes to emotions, you get what you feel. Although we may perceive that we feel (or experience) what we get, it’s actually the other way around. Your mood, perception, and expectations become your reality. Earth is a place where humans project their emotions onto a canvas that then becomes your view of the world.

I saw this as an athlete as well. I made my living as a college basketball player shooting three-point jump shots. My junior year I shot 50 percent from behind that line (still a school record), yet I doubt there was a single game that year in which I made 50 percent. It was more like some nights I shot 70 percent and other nights, 30 percent—most of which was triggered by my own internal perception of my shot on that evening. In other words, I selected my confidence level and then it became real. In this way I created what I experienced. I created what became my reality.

Have you ever had a sudden mood shift—in the snap of a finger, something sets you off? In that instant your entire view changes, darkens.

The same is true in reverse. Someone or something triggers a great burst of joy, happiness, or optimism, and boom—the entire world lightens.

But what’s different? The only variable is the emotion you select.

Ours is a world designed to give us what we feel. The energy of the universe that connects us all is a mirror through which we experience that which we select. It’s a paradigm-altering awakening to realize that when it comes to emotions, you project on the outside what you choose on the inside.

So, remember—the world you’re seeing right now is the one you’ve chosen to see.

“Through the reality makers of imagination, expectations, judgment, passion, and prayer, we galvanize each possibility into existence.”

—Gregg Braden, The Divine Matrix

 

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




Architects of Shared Leadership

As part of Hancock Lumber’s HBS Dealer’s national ‘ProDealer of the Year’ recognition, HBSDealer magazine featured the company on the cover of their March 2022 edition. Ken Clark’s “Architects of Shared Leadership” cover story shares their leadership teams’ voices and highlights Hancock Lumber’s success as an employee-centric, shared leadership business—and, how Kevin Hancock’s vision to become one set the company in a new direction.

Click here to read the full article.




Overreaching In the Age of Shared Leadership

“Winds in the east, mist blowing in, like something is brewing and about to begin.  
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I think what’s to happen all happened before.”

—Bert, Mary Poppins

It chokes me up to see news footage of ordinary Ukrainian citizens fighting the Russian army, street to street across Ukraine. It’s incredible how brave humans can be and inspiring to witness what they will risk for freedom. That’s the Seventh Power, and it dwells within us all…

In the fall of 2017, my wife Alison and I traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine. I was researching and writing about the tendency of those who hold the most power to “overreach,” go too far, and take too much. The moral of that chapter was that overreaching ultimately collapses back upon those who do it. Those with the most power often do themselves in.

To demonstrate the consequences of overreaching, I had chosen to write about the Ukrainian Holodomor, or “forced starvation.” A period from 1932-1933 during which Stalin and the Soviet Union (Russia) intentionally starved millions of Ukrainians to death in response to their collective thirst for independence and reluctance to fall in line with the Soviet master plan for the region. There were still a few survivors from that era, and I had arranged for the staff at the Holodomor Victims Memorial in Kyiv to help me meet and interview two of them (Hanna Soroka and Mykola Onyshchanko). Neither one is a stranger to the depths some will go to prevent others from being free. Here are a few excerpts…

“Death is the solution to all problems. No man – no problem.”

—Joseph Stalin

 

Hanna Soroka

“The odds that Hanna Soroka would survive the winter of 1932 in the Ukraine and live to see her eighth birthday were too small to calculate. Her parents were dead. Her younger brother and sister were also dead. In fact, in every house Hanna knew, people were dead.”

“But I survived,” Hanna said defiantly in Ukrainian, looking directly my way. “Stalin and the Bolsheviks tried to kill me, but I survived.”

“Hanna’s white hair contrasts with the flower-print black dress that falls below her knees. A small white cross hangs from her neck. The brightest light and the darkest capacities of the human experience are simultaneously illuminated in her remarkable life story.”

“I saw many, many people die,” Hannah continues. “Both my parents starved to death during the Holodomor. So did my younger brother and sister. Only my older sister and I survived. I remember holding my sister’s hand as we walked to the orphanage, because there was no one left alive in our house. I did not want to go to this new house, but they made us go. There was no food even at the orphanage. How can you have an orphanage without food? After that we ate only grass, flowers, and bark.”

Mykola Onyshchanko

“Mykola is alert and eager to share. At ninety-two years old, he is fit and strong for his age.”

“First I would like to tell you about my family and life before the Holodomor,” Mykola begins. “We lived on a large farm with lots of fields and horses. Life, before the Soviet Union came to Ukraine, was beautiful. We took care of ourselves, and everyone had plenty to eat. Then the communists came, and this had horrible consequences. The communists took everything. They took all the horses, all the food, everything. Suddenly it was no longer like being a person. Those who resisted in any way were dragged away and put in railcars and sent to Siberia. Those people were never seen again.”

“By the spring of 1933, it was very, very bad,” Mykola continues. “People all around me were dying and doing desperate things because they were so hungry. My mother told us about cannibalism; she would not let us go out in the yard that spring because she was afraid someone might try to eat us. Conditions like these can bring forth horrible acts that would otherwise be unthinkable.”

“It’s hard to explain real hunger,” Mykola says. “People lost all their energy and could barely move. I remember walking to school one day and seeing some shit on the ground. In that shit was a single kernel of corn. I remember pausing and considering how I might pull out that grain of corn. I was wondering how I would clean it. After all these years I still remember staring down at that single kernel of corn.”

The people of Russia are amazing. The people of Ukraine are amazing. All people, of all nationalities, are amazing. Great people are everywhere. Planet earth is filled with them. It’s leadership that makes the difference. Leaders either honor and empower the individual human spirit or they denigrate it.

On this simple choice entire societies rise and fall.

In today’s crisis in Ukraine, a small group of political elites at the very top of the Russian government are mentoring leadership at its worst–invading, killing, and destroying to silence the authentic voices of others.

“Bad times between Russia and Ukraine, bad times,” Yuri (our Ukrainian driver) told Alison and I as we approached a large bridge spanning the Dnieper River in the fall of 2017. On the other side we could see the vast city of Kyiv, home to 3.5 million people.

“But it is not the Russian and Ukrainian people who have caused the problems. Bad times caused by one man, Putin. There is no war between the Ukrainian people and the Russian people. For long time Ukrainian people and Russian people have lived side by side like brothers.”

Yuri paused for a moment to navigate a lane change.

“Putin is not President of Russia–Putin is oligarch from Russia,” Yuri adds before falling silent.

So here we are again. Russia has invaded Ukraine. But this time it is not 1932…

It is 2022 and, whether President Putin acknowledges it or not, we are living in the age of shared leadership and distributed power. Citizens in Ukraine and Russia have cell phones that take and send photographs and videos globally in an instant. No matter how brazenly Mr. Putin’s propaganda machine lies, the truth is still seen, heard, and shared around the world thanks to the Seventh Power.

In the age of shared leadership and distributed power, every consumer can decide to defund the Russian invasion by not purchasing Russian products. Free countries can sanction Russian government activity while alternatively funding and supporting Ukrainians in their quest to remain free.

Putin may or may not take military control of Ukraine, but I am certain from my time there that he will not be able to control the hearts, minds, and spirit of the Ukrainian people.

It may take months, years, or in Hana and Mykola’s cases, generations, but Putin will not win. In the age of shared leadership and distributed power, overreaching has consequences…

 

“First, you must understand that everything that happened to my family when I was young (1932) was deliberately organized by Moscow.
Why? Because of only one reason: we were Ukrainian.”

—Hanna Soroka (2017)

Here’s a picture of Hanna and I in her modest, Soviet-era, apartment on the outskirts of Kyiv in 2017.

 

_____

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. 

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com




The Profit and Power of Being an Employee CENTRIC Companies

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Enlightenment of Change podcast host Connie Whitman. They speak together about his book The Seventh Power, One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. They speak about the power of shared leadership and what the benefits are to both the employees and the company. Kevin speaks from experience about how shared leadership has grown Hancock Lumber and all those who are impacted by the company.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.




Planet Earth Needs a Flag

It is hard to follow one great vision in this world of darkness and of many changing shadows. Among them men get lost.”

—Black Elk

In my last post I wrote about what the sandpiper knows, the tiny bird that moves predictably with the unpredictable. No two waves are ever the same, yet the sandpiper scampers up and down them all with the intuition of a billion sunrises.

Well, here’s the end of that story . . .

The gravitational pull of the sun and the moon push and pull the ocean, combining with the winds of the planet to create waves both big and small. Those waves find a shore. On that shore there is a sandpiper whose movements are ultimately determined by those waves. So one could say, among other causations, that the sun and the moon each move the sandpiper.

On that same day, on that same beach, where those same waves met the shore, I inadvertently walked too close to that same sandpiper. And guess what? I, too, made him move.

This little tale of Kevin, the sun, and the moon moving the same sandpiper on the same day is the essence of seeing the oneness that surrounds, includes, and defines us all. This understanding begins with the recognition that I am attached, connected, and related to all the world. Like the sun, you also have the power to move sandpipers.

***

On that same beach, during that same day, I saw flags—American flags. Yet had I been on a similar beach 400 miles south, I would have seen Cuban flags. Had I then continued south another 200 miles, the flags would have been Jamaican, or 1,000 miles west, Mexican.

Regional flags are important, but they only tell half of the human story. Each of us is different, yet all of us are the same. We need flags that honor diversity, local tradition, and heritage, but we also need flags that advance unity and our shared–single planet society.

I have long maintained that division is the biggest business in the world. On a global scale nationalism is so institutionalized (by design, from birth) that we rarely give all those flags a second thought. Around the world there are 200 national flags (the exact number is always in flux, and it depends on who’s counting). For example, China doesn’t recognize Taiwan, but the people of Taiwan sure do.

Why so many flags?

It’s because when our species started out on foot, planet Earth was an unfathomably big place. When Columbus set sail in August of 1492, Europeans didn’t know that the Americas existed. As late as the 1860s, when Black Elk was a child, he had never seen a white person.

As knowledge, communication, and travel technology continue to advance, the distance between us shrinks. Yet today, even as our connectivity grows exponentially, we still rely on the old flags of distance and division to guide us.

Only 4 percent of humans are American. How does “America First” sound to the other 96 percent? Similarly, 82 percent of all people are not Chinese. How does the Chinese Communist Party’s mission of hegemony sound to the rest of the world?

So, when do we start flying a flag for all of us? Where’s our windblown symbol of oneness?

It turns out it’s here—just waiting to be used.

The International Flag of Planet Earth Organization (www.flagofplanetearth.com) exists for the simple yet transformative purpose of offering a single planetary flag that represents everyone.

“Symbols can create a powerful shift of perspective,” reads the organization’s website. “This flag is a symbol for Earth and an important reminder that we share this planet—with all of its challenges and possibilities.”

Symbols of regional heritage are healthy and important. I am proud of both the Maine state flag and the American flag. But if all the flags on Earth are regional and none are global, we’re going to continue to struggle with issues that require all of humanity to align and cooperate.

In Boston Commons recently a series of glowing signs were placed in the grass beside the walkway that runs east toward Faneuil Hall, not far from the ice-skating rink.

The innocuous markers posed a series of questions, such as Who owns the atmosphere? Each question was boundary-less and transcended national borders.

Many of our biggest challenges and opportunities are global. They require the attention of all humans. So, the question now becomes, how do we get organized to act planetarily? Viewed from space, all humans carry the same flag.

 

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. 

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

 




Kevin Hancock: A CEO Discovers His True Voice

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Work and Life Podcast host Stew Friedman about the changes his leadership style and life underwent after losing his voice. Kevin shares how important changing way he approached leadership became and how strengthening the voices of others to help them find their true, authentic self became his life mission. He also talks about how Hancock Lumber has grown exponentially since sharing leadership and power in the organization. Kevin and Stew speak about the faults of having top-down management with power condensed at the top leadership.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • What they really needed was the encouragement and the safety to trust their own voice. And that was the beginning of me starting to think very differently about leadership and the possibility of leadership really being about dispersing power, not collecting it and using the limitations in my own voice to strengthen the voices of others, specifically in that case, everybody within our company. (9:13-9:49)
  • I found this powerful, powerful presence of nature on the Northern Plains. I found this amazing lost indigenous community that had endured so much, yet still carried love and faith and hope and optimism, and that they have preserved against all odds, if you will, a wisdom set that I came to believe that modern humanity really needed and could benefit from. (16:57-17:35)
  • I mean, you think about the model of we’re going to honor you exactly as you are, that resonates with pretty much everybody, which is why I love the model and the goal. It’s winning for everybody. (47:02-47:22)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




What the Sandpiper Knows

“We Indians think of the Earth and the whole universe as a never-ending circle, and in this circle, man is just another animal. The buffalo and the coyote are our brothers, the birds, our cousins. Even the tiniest ant, even a louse, even the smallest flower you can find, they are all relatives.”

—Jenny Leading Cloud

__________

He moved in perfect unison with the rhythm of the surf without looking up.

As the mighty ocean’s final layer of foam peaked, paused, and receded, the sandpiper pivoted and followed it back to its lowest point. Feeding all the while, the agile creature changed course again precisely before the next wave’s uphill surge. Over and over, this intimate dance repeated itself. No conscious thought or strategic planning was required. No weather forecasts or surf reports were needed. That little bird intuitively knew when to turn, advance, and retreat.

I’ve seen similar examples of complete synchronicity between seemingly disparate entities on numerous occasions, from animals large and small, during my frequent visits to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the surrounding northern plains. The horses, for example, know first and best when a severe storm is coming. They gather and huddle with their hindquarters facing the pending wind before any humans nearby detect that danger is in the air.

How does the sandpiper dance with the surf without looking up?

How do horses recognize what we can’t yet see, hear, or feel?

The answer is simple, in both cases: Their survival depends upon being attuned to the natural world that engulfs them.

Humans possess the same capabilities, but as we have systematically urbanized, mechanized, computerized, and televised across time, we’ve slowly given up this wisdom. Most of humanity has walked away from our connectivity to nature and, in so doing, we’ve abdicated the understandings that embracing our connectivity afford. Any indigenous community that lived and died with the wind and the tide for generations knew what the sandpipers and the horses know. Everything that exists in the universe is related and interconnected. Separateness, as we’ve come to experience it, is an illusion. Furthermore, seeing separateness where none exists has consequences. And we are paying them.

The Sioux call it Mitakuye Oyasin, which translates as “All things are one thing,” or “We are all brothers.” This understanding of oneness and connectivity was not limited to humans but rather included creatures and elements big and small. The wind, the rain, the buffalo, the eagle, the human—all of it is related.

Here’s the progression of awareness that Mitakuye Oyasin represents:

  • Everything that exists is interconnected and part of the whole. There is no separation.
  • This universal connectivity includes humans.
  • Damage to any part of that web of connectivity is damage to oneself and the whole. Conversely, kindness to any part of the web is kindness to oneself and the whole.

These principles redefine the fundamentals of winning and losing. In a universe where everything is connected, winning isn’t winning unless everyone is winning. Corporations don’t win if employees, customers, or the community lose. Democrats don’t win if Republicans lose in policymaking (and vice versa). If Christians win but Muslims lose (or vice versa), then both have lost.

This is the new self-awareness that comes with seeing oneness. Everything can be reduced to its tiniest particles of matter. In that infant form a cactus, a rock, and a human all consist of the same elementary stardust.

Why is this important? Because the majority of our societal ills are derived from seeing separation where none exists. Until we learn to see differently, we are destined to experience more of the same.

Science is only recently uncovering what ancient spiritual communities knew long ago: We are not perceiving what we experience; we are experiencing what we perceive. The world is divided only because we have learned to see it as such.

__________

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

Note: For a great, short book on seeing oneness, consider reading The Divine Matrix by Gregg Braden.

 

 




Mitakuye Oyasin

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

—John Muir

The most transformative concept I’ve learned from my time at Pine Ridge is “Mitakuye Oyasin.”

Each person translates this phrase in their own way, but the essence is always the same: We are all related.

All things are one thing.

We are all brothers.

Separateness is an illusion.

All my relations.

These are all different translations people at Pine Ridge have used to define this term.

I’m fascinated by the wisdom indigenous communities have acquired about the fundamental order of the universe by virtue of their living intimately with nature for generation upon generation. Our universe has a set of governing rules—you might call them patterns—and the Sioux understand them. The essence of those understandings is represented through Mitakuye Oyasin.

Here’s what some of my friends at Pine Ridge have to say about Mitakuye Oyasin

Mitakuye Oyasin is the recognition of oneness. All forms of life and existence are related and interconnected. A human, a buffalo, a bird, a fish, a tree, a rock, a mountain, a river, a shooting star, a distant planet—they are all related. Everything is comprised of the same stardust. The separation we perceive is an illusion. There is one life force, and it’s present in all things.

If you play this knowledge out, the implications are paradigm-altering.

Virtually every culture considers creation sacred and holy. At the center of that creation is a source—the source. Many call it God. Many religions portray this “God source” as separate, removed, detached, and above.

Mitakuye Oyasin suggests something very different.

Mitakuye Oyasin suggests that the God source is present in all things across all time. In fact, Mitakuye Oyasin suggests that there is actually only one “thing” with many appendages and manifestations. This suggests that humans are not inventions of the God source, but rather an extension of it. This suggests that we are part of the God source, and this recognition changes everything.

***

If the sacred creation energy of the universe is present in all things, then all things must be connected somehow. This means that what we perceive to be separate is actually united.

What makes this even more fascinating is that modern science is arriving at the same conclusion that indigenous communities reached long ago. The study of advanced quantum physics has revealed the existence of a “universal field of energy that connects everything in creation.” Experiment after experiment at the quantum level is revealing connectivity and unity between all humans.

The essential understanding is that there is one energy field, and it represents all existence. That field then morphs into countless iterations of itself, and you are one of them. You are the universe looking at itself. You are the universe exploring, expanding, experiencing, and learning. Since that energy is all connected, the experiences of any one appendage become the experiences of the whole. When everything is connected, what happens to one happens to all.

Kindness to one becomes kindness to all.

Evil to one becomes evil to all.

In a world without separation, anyone’s experience becomes a piece of your experience.

But it gets even better—deeper.

Modern scientific learning at the quantum level is also suggesting that our universe is actually “participatory.” At the subatomic level particles act differently when they are observed. The act of being watched impacts the behavior of that which is being watched.

Ponder that for a moment.

Extrapolated to humans, the understanding is as follows: Your feelings create your reality. When you see beauty it’s because you are feeling beauty. Observing is creating, and observing is influenced by the feelings we bring to that which we observe. In this way, humans are participating in the creation of their universe.

Whoa . . . I know that’s a lot to digest, and this is why I plan to take an entire year to explore the topic. For today, let’s just bring it all back to an actionable indigenous understanding: Mitakuye Oyasin.

We are all related.

We are all connected.

Separateness is an illusion.

Keep that in mind for the next person you meet . . . and keep it in mind for yourself.

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

 




Employee-Centric Versus Capital-Centric Organizations, with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Human Capital Innovations Podcast host Dr. John Westover about shared leadership and employee-centric organizations. They discuss the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of capital-centric organizations and how the shift to shared leadership has impacted Hancock Lumber.

“We have been at it for over a decade, so we have very good empirical evidence. Our performance in every category we measure took off. What’s so interesting is, the performance took off when we made the people in the company, not the company, the first priority.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

 

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • Now, this is where the leadership epiphany kicked in. Having done that say several hundred exchanges, several hundred times, here is what struck me, John. People already knew what to do. They didn’t actually need a top-down CEO direct management driven directive. What they really needed was the confidence and encouragement and safety and the culture of the company to trust their own voice and act on their own judgment. And that’s when it started to hit me that maybe partial loss of my own voice, which I only previously ever thought of as a hindrance or a liability or quite literally a pain in the neck, was actually a gift and a blessing and an invitation to lead differently in a way that strengthens the voices of others. And that’s what really got me originally into this idea of dispersed power, shared leadership, and an employee-centric company.  (07:28-08:52)
  • So this is really all about flipping the script, to your point. That the old business model is really about the employee exists to serve the corporation, the employee is an asset of the corporation to be deployed. The new model, which is such a better fit for the 21st century, is the company exists to serve the people who work there. And if a company becomes exceptional at serving the people who work there, I guarantee you those people will make sure the company soars. So it’s a really nuanced flip of the script. This will dramatically improve corporate performance, this approach to thinking differently about engaging employees. But that really becomes the outcome of a higher calling, which is honoring human beings as human beings at work. (15:43-16:55)
  • Our company is one of the oldest in America, it goes back to the 1840s. Just to put the power of an employee-centric approach and perspective, I’ll share this, we ended up making more money in the last 10 years than we did from 1848-2012. And the company had done well enough to exist for over 150 years, but our performance in every category we measure just took off. And what’s interesting is the performance of the company took off by making the people of the company, not the company, the first priority. It’s very counterintuitive and yet so sensible. (18:41-19:36)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Shared Leadership with Kevin Hancock

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks with Deliberate Directions host Allison Dunn about shared leadership and dispersed power. They discuss what prompted his leadership philosophy to change and how the company has benefitted from these changes. He discusses Hancock Lumber’s participation in the Best Places to Work in Maine surveys, as well as the outcome from the information gathered in those.

“When people are participating in the decision making processes, they are much more apt to support those decisions.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to watch the full video.




Everyone Has a Valuable Story

“Nobody is superior, nobody is inferior, but nobody is equal either. People are simply unique, incomparable. You are you. I am I.”

—Osho

If we don’t share our stories they die with us, Verola Spider said to me one afternoon as we sat together on the porch at the Singing Horse Trading Post on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Her statement reinforces a cherished belief I hold: Everyone has an important story to tell. Every person is unique by design. Each of us has a never-to-be-repeated voice worthy of being respected and heard. Leadership is about strengthening the voices of others.

Have a listen to the voice of one of my dearest friends from Pine Ridge, Verola Spider.

This is the first of twenty-four short essays I plan to write in 2022 for my website thebusinessofsharedleadership.com. I didn’t enter lightly into this commitment of writing for another year. Make it a conscious choice, I said to myself. Be sure you have something burning and churning in your heart that compels you. Otherwise, don’t write.

This year I began by thinking about my role as a CEO and the responsibility that goes with that privilege. America has about 200,000 CEOs scattered among 330 million citizens. Those executives oversee entities that include hundreds of millions of employees and trillions upon trillions of dollars in assets. They also have a significant influence on the culture, tone, and priorities of their organizations. CEOs, intentionally or otherwise, make an imprint on the economic and social fabric of society, and with that must come a responsibility to advance what my alma mater Bowdoin College calls “the common good.”

The top mission of all companies in the twenty-first century should be to advance humanity. Since humanity is advanced one human at a time, the place of work is a perfect venue for that to unfold.

***

I never consciously set out to be a CEO. I never expected, growing up, to someday lead a company. But here I am, now twenty-five years into that role.

I started in my father’s footsteps managing and leading traditionally in a command-and-control structure. This worked pretty well; good, not great. It would take me a while to realize that my own authentic voice had not yet fully formed. Uncovering one’s true voice ultimately requires honoring, then transcending the past.

My authentic voice was forged and then released by two events.

First, in 2010, I acquired a rare neurological voice disorder. Suddenly, the previously reflexive act of speaking was difficult. As CEO my voice had been my primary work tool; suddenly, I could no longer depend on it. Previously, for me, leading had been about talking. Now, it was about listening.

Next, in 2012, I began traveling from my home in Maine to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, a place I have now been more than two dozen times. There I met an entire community that did not feel fully heard.

From those unexpected events I came to realize that there are lots of ways for people to lose a piece of their voice in this world. Even more importantly, I came to see how it happens. Across history, leaders of human organizations have often done more to limit, intimidate, and direct the voices of others than to liberate them. Leaders often focus on controlling the voices of others for their own self-serving benefits. This is when I began to see that the restrictions in my own voice might actually be a gift that I could use to flip that script.

Why couldn’t everyone lead? Why couldn’t everyone be fully heard—accepted as they are? What if everyone at Hancock Lumber, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, or across planet Earth felt trusted, respected, valued, and heard? What might change?

Everything would change, I concluded.

This original epiphany is why I keep writing. It’s this subject that inspires me, and I’m captivated by the role CEOs can play in advancing it.

Every human on Earth has a voice—an identity—that is unique by design. There will never be another you. Leaders—in this case, CEOs—need to use their good fortune to strengthen, not weaken, the authentic voices of others by making it safe for everyone to be themselves.

This is why I write. I write to give others a stronger voice.

 

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours.

Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com

 




The 7th Power – Shared Leadership with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Leadership Re-Imagined host Dr. Jane Lovas about his leadership philosophy and The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. They discuss how his leadership style changed from top-down to shared and dispersed power. He shares his story about how his leadership style so drastically changed and the business implications of this change. Kevin and Jane also discuss supply chains, buying patterns, and how Hancock Lumber hopes to challenge these norms.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • I think we really have entered a localism where power is dispersing on this planet. And I don’t know yet that the consumers have fully realized the power they have. So if you think about it this way, consumers, the general public want overwhelmingly corporations to become more holistic in their goals, to be about more than just profit, to be about humanity, about the environment. I agree with all of that, a hundred percent (8:10-8:54)
  • And around the outside of that wheel, Jane, they will say live the six great eternal powers, the power of the west, north, east, south, sky, and earth. But the center of the wheel lives the seventh power, and that seventh power is you. It’s me. It’s the individual human spirit that Sioux believes and understands that everything that exists in the universe is connected. It’s related. (12:04-12:43)
  • In that old approach we always say someone didn’t fit that got let go from a company, people would say, well, he or she failed. He or she wasn’t good enough, he or she couldn’t cut it, but that’s just plain wrong.  (21:27-21:49)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Finding My Voice in the Land of Crazy Horse with Author Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Lucid Cafe host Wendy Halley about his books, Not For SaleThe Seventh Power, and 48 Whispers. They speak about the challenges that losing Kevin’s voice presented and how he was able to overcome and feel that his new condition was a gift. Kevin shares about his journey to Pine Ridge and the lessons he learned while there, especially about leadership. He and Wendy also discuss how sharing leadership not only helped Kevin with his voice disorder, but to help empower the voices of others.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • The people there and their culture have a lot to offer the rest of humanity, the planet earth and modern society, and really become comfortable talking about that, that their community is often thought of as a past based community. But what I really came to see is they, in my view, are carrying wisdom through, in large part, their intimate connectivity to nature, carrying wisdom that is desperately needed by humanity in the 21st century. (11:22-12:09)
  • I think you’re valuable, powerful, meaningful, interesting, fun. All of that. You know, the community needs economic resources, but it needs non-economic resources too, it needs that connectivity and respect and empowerment and love. And that’s the part that really has been meaningful for me. (17:04-17:34)
  • Freeing people to speak with their own voice, that makes management and leadership exponentially easier. I cannot tell you how much easier leadership has gotten here once we chose to share it and disperse it and simply meet people where they are. I wrap that up with this simple thought because for me that summarizes it. It’s that idea that nothing has to change in you for you to be amazing. (29:40-30:15)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




#48 | HOUSTON, WE’VE HAD A PROBLEM

“Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

—Jack Swigert

 

It was April 13, 1970, and the crew of Apollo 13 was in trouble.

“This is Houston. Say again, please.”

An explosion in one of the oxygen tanks had crippled the spacecraft in mid-flight.

“Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a Main B bus undervolt.”

What was supposed to be the third mission to land on the moon was suddenly a secondary priority to survival and the ability to return to Earth.

“Roger. Main B undervolt.”

The crew of Mission Commander James Lovell, Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert, and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise immediately needed to change focus, and the first step in that process was to recognize and correctly identify the situation they were now facing.

“Okay. Right now, Houston, the voltage is . . . is looking good. And we had a pretty large bang associated with the caution and warning there. And as I recall, Main B was the one that had an amp spike on it once before.”

An existential threat had emerged and it needed to be clearly recognized and communicated to all involved. Acknowledging their new reality was paramount to their survival.

* * *

The quest for shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices is, like Apollo 13, a mission under grave risk. Recognition of that risk and its root causes is essential to determining the future of humanity’s shared journey through space and time.

Will we diagnose our condition and correct course? Or, will we hurdle off into the darkness on a wounded ship which has lost (or abdicated) respect for the magic of the human spirit and decentralized decision making that empowers all?

The answers to these questions are not yet knowable, but a diagnosis of the problem begins with recognizing the allure of leadership overreach. Across human time, those with the most political, economic, religious, gender, and racial power have often overreached and exerted too much influence and control over the lives of others.  This overreaching manifests as centralized leadership in governments, corporate headquarters, church hierarchies, and schools. Here, rules are imposed. Stories are woven. Power and influence are collected. And it’s all done in the name of helping and protecting you.

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”

—Vladimir Lenin

* * *

In nature, power is dispersed. These five words came to me one evening at sunset in the Arizona desert near the Navajo reservation.

As darkness returned to claim the red rock peaks, I posed a series of leadership questions to the Universe.

Where is the capital of this desert?

Where is its corporate governing center?

Which one of these cacti is in charge of all the others?

In each case, the answer was clear.

The leadership power of nature lives in all its creatures, great and small. Humans, who are part of nature, ultimately aspire to organize in this same way. The Aquarian Age that is upon is about re-dispersing power as nature intended.

But the long-standing template of traditional leadership and followership does not yield easily. Those in the center want to keep the power, the money, and the decision-making control, and the followers are often all too willing to oblige. Under duress we return to what we know.

So what’s needed to reestablish the primacy of the individual human spirit over the empire itself?

Step one is recognition of the problem. As the Apollo 13 crew understood, acknowledgment of what’s wrong is a prerequisite for change.

We need our institutions and we need leaders within them, but we must come to see the role of the center differently. We want to do the least amount necessary in the center—not the most. Actualizing this inversion of roles is the challenge of our age. Primacy of the human spirit is the objective. The empire comes second as it only exists to serve and honor its individual members.

The most valued leaders of the twenty-first century will strengthen others, not themselves and they will shrink the bureaucratic center, not expand it.

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the forty-eighth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




The Seventh Power – with Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Being Human host Richard Atherton about his book The Seventh Power. They start by talking about how Kevin lost his voice and the journey that he undertook to Pine Ridge to find inner balance. He explains how this journey led him to the realization that other people’s voices are unique, others are capable of leading, and that leadership should be dispersed. Kevin and Richard also speak about how Hancock Lumber has flourished since his shift in leadership and how other companies can follow suit. Click here to listen to the full podcast.

 

Here are few highlight excerpts from the talk: (Click here to view the full transcription)

  • As a CEO, my primary tool had been my voice. And suddenly I couldn’t use it. Long story short, when it’s hard to talk, you quickly develop strategies for doing less of it. (03:37-03:53)
  • And that’s when it hit me that maybe I own voice limitation, which I only ever thought of previously as a hindrance or a liability or a pain in the neck, was actually a bit of a gift or invitation to lead differently in a way that pushed power out away from the center and gave others a stronger voice. (05:41 -06:12)
  • I got this giant shot across my bow in the form of a voice condition that forced me to change in a way that was a blessing. And really, when you oversimplify it, when you talk less, you listen more. And the biggest voice I started hearing more clearly was my own. (28:01-28:32)

 

Click here to download a PDF transcription.

 




#47 | FORTY-SEVEN WEEKS

“You are only ever one decision away from a totally different life.”

—Mark Batterson

 

Forty-seven weeks ago I published the first post of this yearlong series on the power and potential of heightened self-awareness resulting in respect for all voices, beginning with one’s own.

Next week I will publish the last post of this year-spanning, idea-sharing journey.

What I wrote forty-seven weeks ago will endure, but it’s likely that it no longer represents exactly what I think and feel. You see, in these forty-seven weeks, I have already changed.

* * *

The acts of writing, conversing, and idea sharing are generative. When you process a perspective and articulate it to yourself and others, that perspective naturally evolves. Ideas sharpen, clarify, and even morph into something new and unexpected through your willingness to self-examine and share them.

I am not who I was forty-seven weeks ago. Related, yes; identical, no.

Everything that exists is in motion.

Everything that exists evolves.

Nothing stays as it was.

Everything is on a journey of becoming.

In response to the essays I’ve shared, people have written to me and espoused different views. On numerous occasions those perspectives changed my own. My line of sight was adjusted.

This is the whole point of exchanging ideas. I engage in dialogue not to convert others but rather to expand and broaden the set of possibilities that I can hold space for. Writing changes the writer as well as the reader.

In 2015 I published my first book, NOT FOR SALE: FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE. That book chronicles my first six trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation between 2012 and 2014. By the time I finished the manuscript there were parts of it that I wanted to rework because they no longer represented the full scope of what I thought, felt, or knew. But then a friend reminded me that it was important to leave it as is, because it memorialized a certain period in my life.

“The book captures you at a moment in time, not you across all time,” she told me.

In the end we are each like a comet streaking across the sky: We create and leave a trail. Your life across a stretch of time is a collection of experiences from which you are meant to grow and evolve. Nothing stays the same and this is why we can never give up on ourselves or others. It’s why we can never assume we know how someone will act or manifest in the future. It’s why we never fully lose, or win.  Each of us is a journey in motion. We are evolution. When you learn to honor this fluidity, an entire new set of possibilities emerges.

Once we internalize these understandings, we heighten our ability to see and guide our own lives.  The recognition of constant change increases respect for the present moment. Your current experience is but a pinpoint on your cosmic journey. Your sense of wonder expands when you realize you are just passing through.  So learn to see the fluidity of it all. You are in motion, and so is everything around you.

Respect what was.

Absorb what is.

Expand what can be.

Ben Zander, the former conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, calls this the art of possibility. It’s all about envisioning a broader set of potential outcomes—first for yourself, and then for those around you.

You are in motion, and motion creates change.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

—J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

 

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

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This is the forty-seventh post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




#46 | THE APOLOGY

“If an apology is followed by an excuse or a reason, it means one is going to commit the same mistake again they just apologized for.”

—Amit Kalantri

The morning light summons silence and awe as I enter Wind Cave National Park. As I drive, I marvel at the natural beauty that surrounds me. In time my mind wanders back to something I heard from the executive director of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation yesterday, back on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He said that to his knowledge, the US government has never officially apologized for breaking the Treaty of 1868, or for the cultural and economic oppression that followed.

Suddenly an idea comes to me and I pull the car over hastily into a small gravel turnout. Historically, Lakota society was communal; no one spoke for everyone. All voices were important. Government was informal then, and the power went to the people. It is from this spirit that my ideas flow.

“Why can’t I write an apology?” I ask myself.

I turn off the car, grab my journal, take out my pen, and eagerly begin to write. From there the words just flow . . .

THE APOLOGY

To the Lakota people and all the First Nation tribes of the northern plains:

My name is Kevin Hancock, and I would like to apologize.

I have learned the history of your people and I am aware of the devastating impact America’s Western expansion had upon you.

I apologize that we put our needs above yours.

I apologize that we broke our treaties.

I apologize that we took your land under the guise of our own industriousness, and as if we had God’s blessing.

I apologize that we saw your race and culture as inferior and treated you as such.

I have also learned about the neglect and federal mismanagement of your reservations in the twentieth century, and for this, too, I would like to apologize.

I apologize that we restricted your constitutional rights to free speech and religion.

I apologize that we restricted your rights to gather and to bear arms.

I apologize that we sold off your property without your consent or just compensation.

I apologize that we sent your children off to unforgiving boarding schools to be remade.

I have seen modern-day life at Pine Ridge, and I would like to apologize for the conditions a century of oppression and mistreatment helped create.

I wish we could go back and rewrite history. I wish we could start over and do it differently. I wish we could have seen that there was room for everyone. I wish we had not overreached.

I hope you will accept this apology and that we can now join together in the Lakota tradition that says all people are one people. An apology from one person may seem small. It changes nothing in many ways. At the same time, this is how I feel, and I do not believe I am alone. I believe there are hundreds of millions of people across America who are also sorry.

I hope this apology contributes to the process of healing, forgiving yet remembering, and moving on.

Having met your people, I believe in your future.

Sincerely,

Kevin Hancock

(This passage is an excerpt from Kevin’s first book, NOT FOR SALE: FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE.)

* * *

I quietly put my pen away in the silver binder rings of my journal and get out of the car. The crisp Black Hills air engulfs me as I walk reflectively in a slow circle.

People who have been marginalized need understanding and respect in order to heal. Perhaps an apology from the people can be even more powerful than an institutional apology from a bureaucratic government.

I stop circling and take a deep breath. The air flows in through my nose and descends into my body. The power of that air spreads through me. I close my eyes and extend my arms in prayer to the Great Spirit.

“I apologize,” I say out loud. “I apologize.”

* * *

Apologies aren’t meant to change the past. They are meant to change the future.

Please join me by clicking this link and adding your name to this apology. Please feel free to share the link, inviting others you know (and some you don’t) to do the same.

http://www.seventhpower.org/the-apology/

“The United States agrees that commencing on the east bank of the Missouri river where the 46th parallel crosses, thence down said east bank to a point where the northern line of the State of Nebraska strikes the river, thence west along said river to the 104th degree longitude, thence north to a point where the 46th parallel intercepts the same, then due east along said parallel to the place of the beginning shall be set apart for the absolute and undisturbed use and occupation of the Indians herein named.”

—The Second Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868

Pine Ridge today, while magical and inspiring in many ways, is statistically the poorest place in America. This is not a coincidence. It’s the direct result of those with the most power overreaching and never fully acknowledging or apologizing for that misconduct. Apologies aren’t meant to change the past. They are meant to change the future.

 

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the forty-sixth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




#45 | BABY STEPS

This blog post is a reprint from an article Kevin recently wrote for The Maine Monitor, published October 24, 2021
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There’s a lot to learn from babies, one step at a time

The CEO of Hancock Lumber notes that infants learn to walk with minimal training or coaching. Leaders can structure their organizations with this in mind.

BY | OCTOBER 24, 2021

Humans arrive on Earth already knowing how to learn. Exceptional organizations of the 21st century will come to honor this, get out of the way, and allow self-organized growth to flourish in a natural rhythm that dances to the hum of the universe itself, says Kevin Hancock. Submitted photo.

“We are not the helpless subjects of evolution. We are evolution.”  — Erich Jantsch

A baby goes from crawling to walking in a matter of months with almost no coaching. It’s a system of trial and error, tipping and falling, progress and regression, experimentation, and self-correction. Babies teach themselves to walk by watching the world around them and advancing through self-motivation, loosely structured group interaction and practice. This is the optimal learning system for humans but unfortunately, human organizations rarely use it.

Think how a baby learns to walk. Now picture how we teach students. Then visualize how organizations typically supervise adults at work. Finally, contemplate how governments rule from remote capitals.

Then think again about how a baby learns to walk. Can you see a disconnect between how humans are naturally wired to learn and grow?

Our systems for teaching, managing and governing are all top-down and standardized exercises in following and conformity. A baby aspiring to walk has more freedom to acquire that complex skill on its own than a 16-year-old has in English class, a mature adult has at work or a responsible citizen has during a pandemic. Control and standardization from the center: That’s how we’ve come to teach, train, direct and un-inspire.

Now, think one more time about how a baby learns to walk. Next, consider how we might reimagine our learning and governance systems.

 

Discovery in rural India

Over a decade ago in remote villages across India, Sugata Mitra conducted a series of exceptional social experiments designed to better understand how children learn. In dirt-covered town squares where kids congregated, he inserted a computer screen and control panel with Internet access into a randomly selected wall. No instructions were left behind. No adults stood by to invite children to gather and then teach them what to do.

Here’s what happened next . . .

Within hours, a child would find the device and begin experimenting. This child, like all others who participated, had never used a computer or been on the Internet. To add to the complexity, the computer language was English, which none of the children in the region had studied or spoken.

In less than 10 minutes, that first user was successfully browsing the web. By the end of the first day, dozens of children had congregated, taken a turn and learned to use the device. Within weeks, the group knew hundreds of English words and achieved advanced Internet navigation skills to play games, watch shows and gather information. When later tested on proficiency, the children typically passed. Everyone earned the same high grades. Rarely were there discrepancies in learning.

“Big parts of primary education can actually happen on their own,” Sugata said. “Learning does not have to be imposed from a top-down system. In nature, all systems are self-organized. Learning is ideally a self-organizing system.”

Sugata then described from his research the four optimal conditions for learning:

  • Fault tolerant
  • Minimally invasive
  • Fluid, allowing free-flowing connectivity with others
  • Self-organizing

Humans know how to learn

In 2021, Hancock Lumber was recognized as one of the “Best Places to Work in Maine” for the eighth straight year. Across 16 sites and 600 employees, our engagement score was a 90 compared to the national average of 34, according to Gallup polls.

What training systems were involved to earn such a score? None.

Which outside consulting groups were engaged? None.

What off-site leadership programs were managers and supervisors sent to? None.

Then how did it happen?

First, a clear vision was established. Then a small amount of modeling was provided. From there it was all self-organized. We became one of the “Best Places to Work” the same way a baby learns to walk.

Humans arrive on Earth already knowing how to learn.

Exceptional organizations of the 21st Century will come to honor this, get out of the way, and allow self-organized growth to flourish in a natural rhythm that dances to the hum of the universe itself. Every human is capable of learning, leading and evolving given the freedom, safety and flexibility to do so. But for this to occur, leaders of established organizations must show restraint and refrain from making all the rules, inserting excessive structure, and suffocating the insatiable capacity of humans to learn and grow.

Leadership: Dispersed in nature

I was alone one night in the Arizona desert east of Flagstaff when the epiphany arrived. It came in the form of five short words:  “In nature, power is dispersed.” I froze in place, contemplating the significance of this knowledge before asking aloud a series of rhetorical questions to the desert itself.

“Where is the capital of this desert landscape? Where is its headquarters? Where are all the managers and supervisors? Which one of these cacti is in charge of all the others?”

The answer to each question was abundantly clear. The leadership power of nature is dispersed. It inhabits all its pieces, big and small, living and non-living.

Humans who are a part of nature, not above it, ultimately aspire to organize in this same way. But for that to happen, our approach to leadership must change.

Think about how a baby learns to walk, and the roles parents do and do not play in that complex learning process. That’s the kind of leadership we need more of.

“Let children wander aimlessly around ideas.”  — Sugata Mitra

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the forty-fifth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 

 




#44 | PATH FINDERS

“All this time I was finding myself and I didn’t know I was lost.”

—Avicii, “Wake Me Up”

How do you find and stay on your path?

This is the question often pondered by self-actualizers for which I have acquired five personal tenets:

  1. You finding your path may have very little in common with me finding mine. Each path is unique unto itself and must ultimately be discovered alone. You can only give so much advice to another about path finding.
  2. Wherever you are right now is, by definition, part of your journey and it’s on your path. Discomfort is part of it, so don’t discount the pain. It’s inviting you to go somewhere.  You are never off your path.   
  3. Seeking is the biggest part of finding. Embrace the search process; there is no finish line.  The path always keeps going.   
  4. I calculate that it’s about one and a half feet from my forehead to my heart. That eighteen-inch journey is the physical distance that must be covered to become a path finder. Only your heart, not your head, knows your path.
  5. When you do land on your path, you’ll know it. It’s the place where the weight of the world releases and time loses its meaning.

* * *

So how do you listen to your heart?

One simple strategy is to begin by observing your mind, which is easier than you might think. All that is required is the recognition that the voice in your head is not you, and as such, you can detach yourself from it.

Be playful along the way. Path finding need not always be mystifying. To that end, one approach I enjoy is the process of elimination. To play this game, you just pick something you’re sure you do not want to do, manifest, or become, and then you simply rule it out.

Here’s one I recently ruled out: caving. I am not going to be someone who goes caving.

Yes, caving. You know—the adventure sport where people tie themselves to ropes and explore uncharted corners of underground caverns. That’s caving, and I have zero interest in doing it, so I’ve ruled it out of my path.

Here’s why:

  • I don’t really like rocks. I don’t like hiking on them or climbing around them. I prefer dirt, grass, and sand under my feet.
  • At the age of fifty-five, I don’t like crawling anymore. My knees, back, and hands all hurt when I crawl.
  • I’m claustrophobic. I don’t like being in small, tight spaces.
  • I’m afraid of small animals. Mice, snakes, and bats scare me. When our youngest daughter Sydney was a small child, a bat got into her room. When my wife Alison asked me what I was going to do about it, I replied that we were going to sell the house and move.
  • I don’t like being tied and roped to anyone or anything. I like freedom of movement.
  • I don’t really like the dark. I sleep with a little light on.

There. I just narrowed down my path. It’s not going to include caving.

Yet there are other unexpected and seemingly impulsive adventures that I have jumped right into without any clear context as to why.

In August of 2012 I picked up a copy of National Geographic magazine and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was the cover story. IN THE SPIRIT OF CRAZY HORSE: THE REBIRTH OF A SIOUX NATION read the headline, above a picture of a teenage boy riding a horse bareback across a rolling plain.

“I’m going to go there,” I said to Alison as soon as I finished the article. Ninety days later, I was on the Rez.

I’ve now been there over twenty times. What I experienced there changed my life. It came from the heart. That’s path—something you’ll follow without knowing the full answers as to why.

Remote western Indian Reservations, yes.

Caves, no.

Guideposts for my path.

In summary, here’s the moral of this story: If your path takes you into a cave, I won’t be there.

Happy trails to you!

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

—J. R. R. Tolkien

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the forty-fourth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




The Human Race

This article is written by Kevin Hancock and featured on Creations Magazine. He writes about how work needs to have more meaning and a higher calling, instead of just being work. If work can be more fulfilling to the individual, it will bring about a higher sense of self worth and purpose, which will then begin to affect society.

“Humanity must become more productive, innovative, adaptive, and creative in order to manifest abundance for all. But as we strive toward these goals, we must also bring more love and care for humanity into that competitive arena, so that the economic work of advancing humanity is also spiritually rewarding and uplifting.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




Write Now with Kevin Hancock

In this article, Kevin Hancock shares his personal journey with writing and becoming an author. He answers questions about why, where, and when he started writing. He shares how he best overcomes writer’s block and what he enjoys doing besides writing. Kevin is able to share about why he is passionate about sharing his writing with people and his mission to help people find their own authentic voice.

“Sharing deeply personal experiences, learnings, and musings as a means to explore themes of relevance to all of humanity always feels deeply meaningful. When we open ourselves and become vulnerable we encourage others to do the same. When we look inward for truth and path we make it safe for others to do the same. Knowing that the writings of one person also belong to collective consciousness of all humans is motivating.”  – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




#43 | JENNY AND ME

“Everyone is beautiful.”

— Ariana Grande

Jenny Edwards cleans and cares for the Hancock Lumber home office in Casco at night, after finishing her day job.

I work an odd collection of hours, which brings me into the office at night once or twice a week.

This is how Jenny and I met and then became friends a long time ago.

* * *

I’m six feet tall. Jenny is about five feet tall.

I’ve got a ways to go in my work career. Jenny is nearing the end of hers.

I’m the senior titled officer in the building. Jenny cleans the building.

I’ve had a lot of opportunity in my life, which I’ve tried to make good on. Jenny’s not had all the same opportunities, but she is a leader through and through.

There are a few things that make us different, but there’s a lot more that makes us the same.

* * *

Any evening when I pull into the office parking lot and see Jenny’s car there, I know what’s coming next. Somewhere near the stairway to the second floor, Jenny and I will invariably find each other. We smile, share a hug, and swap stories. Jenny always has a new story, and hers are better told than mine.

For me our periodic visits are about respect. I admire Jenny. She works all day and then comes to clean our home office at night. Lately she’s had some trouble with her eyesight and she lost one of her beloved dogs to old age, but she always finds the will to persevere.

Jenny does the kind of work that gets done when no one is watching, and she takes amazing pride in doing it right. No one claps when she finishes the bathrooms. No one cheers when she mops the floor. If you only worked during the day, you might never see her. You go home in the evening and the next day your office is clean. But it doesn’t just happen. Jenny comes and cleans it.

Often when I stop in she’ll tell me about a new cleaning supply she found that works better on this part of the office or the other. She’s always thinking about how to improve the maintenance and appearance of the building she cares for.

Jenny also sees the big picture and regularly imparts her wisdom. She thinks about our entire company, all sixteen sites and 600 people across Maine and New Hampshire. She’s proud of Hancock Lumber, and that gives me goose bumps when I stop to think about it. Jenny regularly encourages me through the handwritten Post-it notes she affixes to my desk.

Your father would be proud of you, read a recent one.

These values you’re promoting really make a difference, read another. People feel appreciated and respected here. I’ve worked places before where you don’t feel appreciated or empowered and it’s no fun. Keep it up!

I love hearing about your trips to Pine Ridge and the people there, read yet another. They’ve had it harder than we do, but they are just like us in the end.

The notes are uplifting, and I save each one for a few days before moving on. I take Jenny’s words to heart. I’ve made changes for the better at our company, thanks to her.

But there’s nothing like hearing a story from Jenny in person.

“So right before I was supposed to leave for work this morning, a chipmunk got in the house,” Jenny said as we stood under the old American flag on the second floor near my office. Her hands were moving and her eyes were wide. I felt as if I was right there in her home, watching it all unfold.

“Oh, jeez, what a show that was,” she continued. “The cat got chasing the chipmunk and the dog got chasing the cat. There were animals whirling and whizzing around everywhere. I had to go to work so I just left ’em all in there. We’ll straighten it out tonight once I get back and see who’s still alive.” She laughs.

That’s another trait I love about Jenny: She can look life right in the eye and stare it down or laugh it away, depending on which is called for. Jenny makes America better every day just by getting up, working hard, and being out in the world. She’s a participant, not a spectator. She competes. She stays in the game, even when it’s hard.

Jenny is proud, yet humble. I love seeing both traits equally alive in the same person. She’s proud of her company. She’s proud of me. She likely has no idea how much that means to me. In return, I’m proud of Jenny. I think she’s amazing. When the two of us are together, it’s not the CEO and the cleaning lady exchanging pleasantries; it’s two friends hanging out together, laughing and sharing stories, different, yet the same.

“If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”

—William McRaven

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Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the forty-third post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




Center of All That Is

In this article, the Center of All That Is whisper is a featured excerpt on the Braided Way blog. This whisper, originally written in Kevin Hancock’s 48 Whispers, delves into the concept of center. Kevin writes in a quote from Black Elk, who understood that center is within ourselves, and that this is the path to sustained peace.

Click here to read the full article.




#42 | WHO’S DRIVING THE GOD TRUCK?

“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

—Buddha

I was driving through Rapid City, South Dakota, when I saw him.

Cresting the rolling hill in front of me appeared an all-white Ford pickup truck with a giant cross towering over the cab. Streamers were attached and they danced in the wind as the vehicle came toward me in the opposite lane with a large banner that read “In God We Trust.”

“Yes,” I whispered to myself. “In GOD we trust. But that ultimately means in ME I must trust.”

We can call the creator “God,” which is the sacred name for the source of all that is. That source, it can be said, is divine.

Whatever created us is within us.  In this way, we each are divine.

In this way, God’s power is dispersed.  Each of us carries a spark of the divine, and this is why everyone and everything is sacred. I can find manifestations of God both beyond and within me. This is the spiritual interpretation of our place in the Universe.

Approached scientifically, I still arrive at the same end point. My parents created me and their DNA comprises me. My grandparents created them and so their presence is also within me. I can trace this science back to a theoretical point of origin. The first man and woman have a trace of their existence within me. We all go back to the source, and this holds true for all of Earth’s creatures.

On my most recent visit to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota I came upon the remains of a buffalo. The once-powerful animal was now a collection of milky white bones. His carcass had been consumed by other creatures, which sustained their lives. He was now within them. The rest was decaying back into the very grass that fed the buffalo. The creature was returning to its source.

Both the scientific research and the spiritual revelations point to the same conclusion: There is one source and we emanate from it before returning to it.

This truth is written everywhere for us to see.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord.”

—Revelation 1:8

* * *

“Human beings and all living things are a coalescence of energy in a field of energy connected to every other thing in the world. This pulsating energy field is the central engine of our being and our consciousness.”

—Lynne McTaggart, The Field

* * *

“Energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another.”

—The First Law of Thermodynamics

* * *

“He who experiences the unity of life sees his own SELF in all beings, and all beings in his own SELF.”

—Buddha

* * *

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the Universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.”

—Black Elk

* * *

Science and spirituality are dual paths to a single truth. Everything that exists is connected. The source of that connectivity is within us all. So, yes, in God we trust and, therefore, in me I must trust, for I come from the source. I am a spark of the divine.

To hear that source within me I simply turn inward and listen to my heart, where the source resides. Unfortunately, “leaders” (religious, political, educational, business, and otherwise) have been mucking up our individual awakenings for centuries by convincing us that “power” lives somewhere out there, beyond us.

It’s time for both leaders and followers to transcend that self-serving narrative. God doesn’t collect power, she disperses it. The truth is, we are each driving a little God truck around Planet Earth. So, for heaven’s sake, take the wheel.

“What if God was one of us?”

—Joan Osborne

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the forty-second post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




Moontower Business Podcast: 48 Whispers

In this podcast, host Joseph OBell talks to Kevin Hancock about his newest book, 48 Whispers. To begin, they talk about why Kevin journeyed to Pine Ridge and the experiences he had while there. He then speaks about how his time with the Sioux tribe at Pine Ridge led to writing his books and what he hopes readers can take away from reading them. He highlights how important human connectivity is and how it can help break free from the robotic nature of day-to-day life.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And I had lost track a bit of my own identity, separate from my roles and going to this community where nobody knew me, which had a really deep indigenous spirituality and where the power of plains- if you’ve ever been there, are just so dramatic. That all of that really helped recenter me. (11:04-11:30)
  • One of the key messages I really tried to send in the book is that done correctly, being selfish is selfless, because when we listen to that inner voice and do those things that make us light up, that’s when we give the most back to the world around us as well. (14:32-14:54)
  • And honestly, I feel the book is meant for humans. My editor and publisher, they always try to put things in a box, but when they say, who’s the book for Kevin? I say, well, it’s for humans. And that’s honestly how I feel. And I have a sense you might feel the same way. That’s really the spirit within which the book was written. (25:07-26:33)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




#41 | IT’S WRITTEN IN THE SONGS

“Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become the carrier of something that has been given to you from what we call the Muses—or, in biblical language, ‘God.’ This is not fancy, it is fact. Since the inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious mind of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone.”

—Joseph Campbell

Each time I travel to the northern plains it’s for the purpose of spiritual and creative regeneration. After seeing all my friends on “the Rez” (Pine Ridge), I typically take off for a few days alone into “the land of Crazy Horse.” It’s a vast and remote territory stretching from the North Platte River in Nebraska to the Yellowstone in Montana. It includes landscapes filled with trees and those devoid of them. When there, I drive for days, hike for hours, and sleep not much at all.

As I drive I listen to music. Often the windows are down, regardless of the temperature, and the volume is turned up. On each trip, without fail, the collective musical soundtrack of the journey will bring forth a message or theme that feels as if it was written for me alone. On my most recent trip the following lyrics resonated deeply:

Something in the wind has learned my name, and it’s telling me that things are not the same.

—Karen Carpenter, “Top of the World”

The windswept grasslands of the northern plains have spoken to me in this same way and opened my eyes to the connectivity of all living things. When the wind swirls the grass, rattles the leaves, moves the clouds, and brushes my face, I no longer feel detached.

* * *

So if you think your life is complete confusion, because you never win the game, just remember that it’s a grand illusion, and deep inside we’re all the same.

—Styx, “The Grand Illusion”

The human constructs we use to measure ourselves in a commercialized, merchandized, and Internet-wired world can leave us all feeling like we’ve come up short—like someone else is winning. But that external noise is just a “grand illusion.”

* * *

So sing, sing at the top of your voice. Oh, love without fear in your heart. Can you feel, feel like you still have a choice? If we all light up we can scare away the dark.

—Passenger, “Scare Away the Dark”

This passage (to me) is all about coming into your own voice. It’s a call to self-actualize. To self-actualize is to light up. To light up is to scare away the dark.

* * *

No, his mind is not for rent to any god or government. Always hopeful, yet discontent. He knows changes aren’t permanent, but change is.

—Rush, “Tom Sawyer”

I first heard this song at the age of twenty while working for the summer in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve loved its call for a free mind and heart ever since. May your mind forever be NOT FOR SALE!

* * *

And we’re not broken, just bent. And we can learn to love again.

—Alanis Morissette, “Guardian”

None of us are broken. All of us are bent. Love is the cure, and it begins with love of self. We change the world within us, then beside us, then beyond us.

* * *

The songs that speak to you are real manifestations of your spirit, path, and purpose. They capture your attention for a reason. Don’t dismiss them. Don’t shake them off. Let them resonate.

The photographs and paintings that stop you in your tracks are also clues. The quotes you save and the poems you jot down are affirmations. Art is never abstract when it comes for you. It’s the Universe calling, disguised as human expression.

How do I hear and answer my callings? All who search ponder this question.

You answer your personal callings by resisting the temptation in those precious moments when the wind or the music speaks to you, to “shake it off” and go back to that which is tangible and logical.

That’s not to say your earthly responsibilities don’t matter; they do. But spirit—well, that’s the most important, because it’s come to guide your earthly work. When it stirs, you must let yourself be overtaken.

Trust me, you are being called. We are all being called. Somewhere out there is a song just for you, so go and hear the music . . .

 

You don’t become an artist unless you’ve got something missing somewhere.

—Bono

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the forty-first post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




#40 | THE WATERMELON BUS

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

—Pablo Picasso

 

We were driving through rural, agricultural Florida just north of Lake Okeechobee when I saw it.

“What is that?” I said, removing my sunglasses for a second look.

Several vehicles ahead, on a four-way section of downtown road, was an old yellow school bus with the entire top cut off and the seats removed. Inside, filling the cavernous space, were watermelons . . . thousands of watermelons.

“Look! They’re off to watermelon school,” I said to my wife Alison. “It must be a private school. They’re all dressed alike.”

A couple of miles down the road I spotted another watermelon bus equally topless and fully loaded as a makeshift agricultural transport.

“Brilliant,” I said.  “I want one.”

Alison was driving (as usual when we road-trip), so I pulled out my phone, went on eBay, and typed in school bus. Sure enough, I could buy one with the tap of a finger. There was a 2005 Thomas Freightliner for $1,625, and a 2007 Blue Bird 84-passenger with 226,104 miles, for $699.99.

As it turns out, there are lots of used school buses available. They’re cheap, and you can own one in minutes.  Cutting the top off and growing enough watermelons to fill it however is a different matter.

* * *

As we reached I-95 near Vero Beach, I still had watermelon buses on my mind. How utilitarian, creative, resourceful, and quintessentially American-free-enterprise they were. Some original, creative soul has taken something of no further value to its original owner (a retired school bus) and then reimagined its potential for a completely different industry.

If someone had asked me yesterday what could be done with a used school bus, I certainly wouldn’t have come up with transporting watermelons as an option.

This is dispersed power in action. No two people see the world exactly the same way—and that’s a huge advantage in terms of the potential for local-level creativity and leadership.

From 1988 to 1991, right after graduating from college, I taught Russian and Soviet history at a prep school in Maine.  Flashing back to that place and era, I imagined all the old Soviet school buses being sent to a central scrap heap for processing and disposal. No creative reimagining in that system! No watermelon buses, to be sure.

Today, in America, old buses end up on eBay where buyers and sellers make their own choices about current value and future use. Only in this kind of dispersed power system can you find such creativity, and as I browse once again I’m still super tempted to buy one.

What would I turn it into?

It all makes me think: What’s your watermelon bus? Where in your life have you taken something of little or no value to others and reimagined and repurposed it as something valuable just for you?

My voice disorder (spasmodic dysphonia) is a watermelon bus. On the surface it’s nothing more than a literal pain in the neck, which for a long time made the simple act of speaking a difficult chore. But then I reinvented and reimagined SD into something different, something valuable. My voice condition was a symbolic invitation to disperse power, share leadership, and strengthen the voices of others. It was an opportunity to decentralize power and advocate for a corporate values system in which everyone felt trusted, respected, valued, heard, and safe. I turned an incurable neurological disorder into a watermelon bus.

All of that was invented in my head and that alone made it real – gave it life.

You’ve done this, too; I’m sure of it!

Reflect for a moment on the literal and symbolic watermelon buses you’ve created in your life—the places and situations where you’ve found value when others saw none.

That’s self-awareness. That’s dispersed power. It’s what the Sioux call the Seventh Power, which is the innate ability of the individual human spirit to manifest the divine light that lives within us all.

Be thankful and proud of the watermelon buses you’ve created and give all those around you the space and trust to do the same.

 

“This is a hard truth for some to accept; that a lack of resources may not be their true constraint, just a lack of resourcefulness.”

—David Burkus

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the fortieth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




#39 | FOUL BALL

“The most dangerous moment comes with victory.”

—Napoleon Bonaparte

Thursday, April 13, 1978

I’m twelve years old, in my bed on a school night. The only light in the room is coming from the illuminated station finder on my alarm clock radio. It’s Ned Martin’s last year calling the Red Sox, play by play, and I listen every night.

On this night the Sox defeat the Texas Rangers, 5–4. Led by the middle of the lineup, Fisk, Remy, and Rice each collect two hits, while Butch Hobson, batting cleanup, adds three. Dennis Eckersley nearly goes the distance for the win before yielding to Dick Drago, who secures the final out.

Growing up in rural Maine, I am all in on the Red Sox. This is how I fall asleep every summer night that I can remember as a child.

Sunday, July 15, 1990

The Red Sox are getting pounded by the Kansas City Royals on a hot summer day in Boston. It’s late in the game and the crowd has cleared out, but Dave Hancock and his two boys never leave early.

With rows of empty blue wooden seats below, we move down from the left-field grandstand all the way to the second and third row. I’m sitting in front, my brother Matt and my dad are behind me. From this vantage point we are staring pretty much straight down the third-base line as one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century strides to the plate.

Bo Jackson takes a strike and then a ball. The count is 1-1. On the next pitch he drives an absolute rocket down the same base line we’re observing. There’s no time to think, only to react. I stand, momentarily blocking my brother’s view. Then I duck.

The ball catches Matt squarely in the chest (I think he still has a dent there some thirty years later). As my brother slouches, gasping for air, the ball falls to the concrete below him and then rolls down one row before coming to rest at my feet.

I pick the ball up and turn toward the field, both hands raised in triumph. The television cameras find me. The few remaining fans cheer.

At the age of twenty-four, I’ve just secured my first Fenway Park foul ball.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Our daughters are twelve and ten. Gloves in hand, we ascend the stairwell to our seats atop the legendary Green Monster. The game itself is still an hour away. We are here for batting practice. We are here to catch home-run balls.

The Chicago White Sox are in town and Paul Konerko and Carlos Lee are taking turns in the batter’s box. They each get three pitches and they each hammer one of them our way. The first rattles off the metal and concrete above before Abby gathers it up. Moments later Sydney does the same. Red and blue hats cover two blonde ponytails. Two girls have their first big league ball. The number of years it took to get a ball had just been cut from twenty-four to twelve in a generation.

Hours later, the Red Sox win, 6–5.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Tampa Bay is in town for four games and they’ve won the first two by a combined score of 14–3. The Sox need a victory.

The stands are packed as Dustin Pedroia fouls one our way. The crowd rises, reaches, and all but one fail. As the activity dissipates, one middle-aged man stands victorious, celebrating a clean catch.

Unexpectedly, the crowd begins to boo. The booing multiplies, gathering tribal steam. The man who made the catch is confused, but I’m not—I’ve seen this before. It’s the new foul ball expectation at Fenway Park.

“Give the ball to a kid!” someone yells.

“Don’t be selfish,” yells another.

None of these people know each other.

Nearby several youngsters, none capable of earning a foul ball on their own for years, look on hopefully with cream-puff eyes.

The man with the ball hesitates before relenting. He picks a small child nearby and hands over his ball.

Everyone cheers, except me. I don’t like it.

It took me twenty-four years (and a dent in my brother’s sternum) to get a baseball at Fenway Park. As a child at games I had come close many times only to have someone bigger, taller, and faster beat me to it. An official major league game ball was something to be earned and fought for, awaited and anticipated.

Although perhaps a bit of a leap, it all reminded me of the recent college admissions scandal—parents paying to get children into schools they hadn’t earned the right to attend.

There’s also a second component to this newly ritualized foul ball exchange that bothers me, and that’s all the assumptions the crowd is making about the guy who did catch the ball.

What if he had never caught one before? What if he had a sick nephew in the hospital at home who loved the Red Sox? How could the crowd judge the choice of a person they didn’t know? How do you boo a guy for catching and keeping a foul ball?

When I was a kid, foul balls were fought over at Fenway. Now they are given. Does this generational shift say anything or nothing about America today?

Ha! I don’t know. I just don’t like it. On that fateful day in 1978 it never occurred to me to give the ball to my brother. Nor did it occur to my brother to ask for it. He had his chance. It hit him right in the chest.

I liked Fenway better when foul balls were dreamed over and scrambled for. Sometimes you made a great catch. Sometimes you caught a lucky bounce. But either way, everyone in the stands understood—you had to get your own foul ball.

“The rewards for those who persevere far exceed the pain that must precede the victory.”

—Ted Engstrom

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-ninth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




48 Whispers Q&A with Deborah Kalb

In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks with Deborah Kalb about his book 48 Whispers. She asks questions to learn more about what inspired Kevin to write this book, what keeps drawing him back to Pine Ridge, and the messages for readers in the book. Kevin finishes by explaining “I have come to dedicate my work to the mission of strengthening the voices of others. Leadership in the 21st century must be about distributing power, not collecting it.”

Click here to read the entire interview.




Interviews with Bob Greenberg, Part 3

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks about how he became a champion for shared leadership and dispersed power. When Kevin lost the power of his voice, he turned to others for their ideas so he could speak less. He also speaks about how he found the Lakota tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and how he connected with them through the loss of voice. He speaks about his own personal learnings, specifically about shared leadership and dispersed power. He finishes by sharing how Hancock Lumber has flourished from this new business model.

Click here to watch the full video.




Interviews with Bob Greenberg, Part 2

In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks about how teachers make a difference. In his example, he talks about his science teacher Eugene Whitney, who made each individual in the classroom feel heard and special. This feeling has stuck with Kevin since then and is memorable for him.

Click here to watch the full video.




Interviews with Bob Greenberg, Part 1

In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks about how he found the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and how the moments he spent there helped him and inspired him to write 48 Whispers. He shares that the thoughts and pictures that he takes while there have helped him find inner peace, a way of leading without overusing his voice, and connect with nature. Kevin explains how he could connect with the Lakota tribe because they, too, felt their voices had been weakened and taken away.

Click here to watch the full video.




SA Examiner – 48 Whispers Book Review

In a book review done by the SA Examiner, Kevin Hancock’s newest book, 48 Whispers, is given an examination through the eyes of blogger Sandra Cruz. She gives examples of her favorite whispers, and writes that “inspirational books do not have to be encyclopedia sized or full of complicated psychological or religious subject matter to be effective in reaching out to people. Kevin Hancock’s musings come off as deeply spiritual and satisfying while the pictures are beautiful, calming, and tell a story all on their own … [48 Whispers] makes for an exceptional coffee table book or gift for a loved one this holiday season.”

Click here to read the full article.




Interview with PatZi Gil – Joy on Paper Show

In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks with PatZi Gil, host of the Joy on Paper Show, about his newest book, 48 Whispers. Kevin and PatZi speak about his trips to South Dakota, the inspiration behind the book, the Lakota tribe he befriended, and the nature he experienced. They speak about the Seventh Power, both the ideology in the Pine Ridge culture, and the book Kevin wrote. They finish the interview by speaking about the restorative power of nature and their love for trees and lumber.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And yet that simple universal power of goodness lives within us all and it can still be transcended. And we can all bring it forth in an instant, every single human can bring goodness forth. (7:02-7:20)
  • The world in real life is more manageable than it is as viewed through a screen. In that writing, I encourage people a bit more to turn the TV off, turn the computer off, put the phone away and get out and immerse yourself in the world that’s right beside you. (8:30-8:53)
  • Aiding community cultures, where it’s safe for people to be their authentic selves, because when people are their authentic selves, that’s when they shine the brightest. (12:21-12:33)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription (part 2).




#38 | PROTECTORS OF THE REALM

“Liberty means responsibility.
That’s why most men dread it.”

—George Bernard Shaw

 

It was six a.m. when I left Route 44 and passed through the veritable ghost town of Scenic, South Dakota, onto Bombing Range Road. I was on my way to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to have breakfast with my friend Rosie at the Singing Horse Trading Post before spending the day visiting friends.

The road was empty as I barreled through the Badlands before slowing at BIA 27, the northern access point to the reservation.  Before me stood a modest wooden guard shack hastily erected.   Beside it, a portable stop sign squarely blocked my lane.  This was a COVID checkpoint established by the Oglala Sioux Tribe in defiance of South Dakota’s thirty-third governor Kristi Noem’s order not to do so.

I put my car in park and surveyed the scene.  There was no visible sign of life.  The shack was dark and the dusty old sedan on the opposite side of the road looked cold and empty.

Unsure what to do, I exited my car and moved slowly towards what reminded me of a Maine ice fishing shack.  As I neared, two young men emerged.  Both were native and appeared to be in their twenties.  My ability to enter rested solely in their hands.

“Hello, how’s it going?” I said. “I’m here just for the day. I’ve got appointments at Singing Horse, the OST Partnership for Housing, and the nonprofit Re-member. I’ve had both of my vaccine shots.”

“Okay, bro,” the first man replied.  “That’s cool.  You’re good to go.”

“Great, thank you,” I said.  “Have a good day.”

“You take it easy today, man,” said the second.

“Will do,” I said. “Same to you both. Thanks again.”

“Yeah, bro,” the first said.

With that I was in.

* * *

“It’s all about teaching and restoring self-esteem,” Rosie said.

By now I was sitting at the old wooden table in the store at the Singing Horse Trading post north of Manderson with a muffin in one hand and a pen in the other.

“The COVID checkpoints are actually more important than they appear,” Rosie continued. “Most people don’t realize this but the biggest benefit is not medical or health related.”

“I’m intrigued Rosie,” I replied. “What’s the value of those checkpoints beyond mitigating the spread of the virus?”

“For generations in this community, it was white people telling Indians where they could and could not go,” Rosie said.  “White people telling native peoples what they could and could not do, how they could or could not dress, what language to speak, what God to worship, and so forth.  In that process the men of this community were systematically deprived of the opportunity to lead, protect, and provide for their families and community. But now, these checkpoints symbolize something very different and you experienced it this morning.  The young men at those gates are in charge of keeping the community safe and secure. They decide who enters and who turns around. That’s responsibility, empowerment, and control put in their hands.  That’s trust being vested in them.  That’s new here and its’ exactly what’s needed for this community to progress.

“Ah,” I say, nodding my head as I jot down notes in my journal.

“Sure, they may go overboard on occasion,” Rosie says with a laugh and a smile.  “There are a few stories of visitors being turned around and sent away when it’s not really necessary—but so what? They’re building self-esteem as protectors at the gate, and that’s more important.”

Rosie pauses. The room is quiet as the medicine wheels overhead slowly turn.

“I have customers call and ask if they can come down to visit the store, and I say, ‘You can try but whether you get in or not is up to them, not me.’ ”

* * *

Rosie was right, I thought to myself as I drove west on a seemingly endless dirt road toward the Black Hills later that afternoon. This morning two young men from Pine Ridge held the governance power over me.  It was up to them to decide if I entered or retreated.  They had the control.  I was at their mercy.  For generations it had been the other way around.  Reflecting on the scene, it all made me happy, and I smiled.

How do we restore responsibility and rebuild a sense of control in communities that have been systematically deprived of it?

This question is central to creating a culture of shared leadership and dispersed power both nationally and globally. Ultimately, it’s all about spreading the responsibility back away from the center. It’s about the church hierarchy, the school board, the central government, and corporate headquarters doing less, not more.  Restraint at the top of organizations is required in order for leadership to be shared and power dispersed.

The Pine Ridge community was built on forced relocation, forced religious conversion, forced cultural assimilation, and rationing. Everything was determined and provided by someone else from away. This lack of control for the people who lived there was race based and it deprived the individuals living under the system from self-actualizing their own innate power as human beings.  It’s not a coincidence that Pine Ridge today is the poorest place in America. Take everybody’s personal power away, and this is what happens.

Responsibility—or the opportunity to lead—belongs in the hands of all individuals. But those who control organizations from the center often undervalue this fundamental truth, choosing instead to centralize decision making – thereby reducing the opportunities for others to lead. That’s why one of the greatest leadership challenges of our time is convincing those with the most power at the corporate or political center not to use it.

So yes, Rosie is right: Guarding the gate is a good place to start.

 

“Power can be taken, but not given.
The process of taking is empowerment in itself.”

—Gloria Steinem

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-eighth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




Kevin Hancock featured on The Backpack Show with Chris Brogan

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks with Kerry O’Shea Gorgone. Kerry talks with Kevin about his experience of the partial loss of his own voice, while initially considered to be a hindrance, was eventually seen as a gift – an invitation and a calling to lead differently, and to lift up others’ voices. They also dive into his work as CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, one of the oldest and best known family businesses in America.

Click here to watch the full video.




#37 | MISSION CLARITY

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it.”

—Buddha

Earlier this year I shared the following short message with everyone at Hancock Lumber:

Hello! I was doing some work with another company in another industry yesterday. The subject of their “mission statement” was on the agenda. The company has great values and a compelling mission, but their path to describing it was quite technical. As a result, it didn’t resonate on an emotional level.

I then experienced a moment of anxiety, hoping that I’m able to be fully human as a CEO in my communication of our shared mission.

So here I am.

For me, the first mission of our company is to help everyone feel trusted, respected, safe, valued, and heard – exactly as you are.  No change is necessary for you to be amazing.

Manufacturing lumber is important to our company, but it’s not the mission.

Logistics are also important, but they are not the core mission either.

Sharing leadership broadly, dispersing power to everyone, and respecting all voices—that’s the mission. Work should be meaningful for the people who do it.

A few moments after sending that e-mail, I began receiving messages back. Here was the first one to arrive in my in-box:

I think our mission and purpose is very clear and easy to understand for everyone. Many organizations’ missions become a long list of often difficult-to-understand statements that have little, if any, meaning to most employees. A GREAT mission is one which if you ask any randomly selected person within the organization to recite, they would be able to—ours fits that definition.

* * *

The mission an enterprise prioritizes matters, because most organizations achieve what they focus on. If a company wants to create a different set of outcomes, they may only need to examine what they are consistently prioritizing.

Additionally, I don’t believe in a singular corporate mission. A world-class company is highly dynamic and will create benefits that advance society on multiple levels. At Hancock Lumber, for example, we expect to be highly valuable to not just employees but also to customers, suppliers, stockholders, and the communities we serve.  We aspire to positively impact our industry, our state, and the nation—even humanity as a whole. That’s a whole lot of mission.

So the real question becomes, where is the critical first focal point that, when ignited, will fuel and drive value creation for the whole? This is the foundational mission, the one that paves the way for all the others. It’s the point on the fly-wheel where the energy must be applied.  For us that’s the employee experience.  All other experiences, we believe, are derived from that one.

A great mission must be personally and immediately actionable, accessible to everyone. No complex training is required. Magic missions are intuitive. The moment you meet one, you know what to do—and what not to do. When you have a mission worthy of pursuing, everybody wins, and the victory reverberates far beyond the boundaries of the company.

* * *

Here are some traditional corporate mission statements:

  • Our mission is to maximize shareholder value.
  • Our mission is to achieve peak production efficiency.
  • Our mission is to grow and become the number-one supplier in our market.
  • Our mission is to sacrifice whatever is required in service to our customers.

The problem with each of these objectives is that the benefits of achieving them can feel as though they are bypassing the people doing the work.  Workers should work first for their own joy, growth, advancement, challenge, fun, and financial benefit.  That’s a great set of goals and it’s not just ok, but actually desirable to pursue them.  Work should fill your own cup and when it does your performance will create great value for others.

Advancement of self should be front and center in any foundational mission. Shareholder value, corporate productivity, revenue growth, and customer care are all important but as the outcomes of a higher calling.

Humanity is always ultimately advanced on a local level, where humans reside. The place of work should be first and foremost for the humans that work there.  When the employees soar everyone is advanced.

Most companies get exactly what they ask for.

What’s yours asking for?

“I spend a tremendous amount of time carefully choosing the roles I wish to play so that I can run from the role I was born to play.”

—Craig Lounsbrough

 

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-seventh post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




#36 | TENT CITY

“The problem with homelessness is not houselessness.”

—Matt Haig

 

Eugene, Oregon, is a city like no other. Nestled on the western edge of the Cascade Mountains, it’s surrounded by a valley of agricultural bounty. Sheep graze at the edge of the airport runway. The rivers flow and the flowers grow across a Disneyesque kingdom-like landscape that produces some of the best wines on Earth. This veritable Garden of Eden is encircled by majestic, towering Douglas firs that cover the rolling hills to the east and west.

Culturally, the city is equally fascinating. It feels as if the old and new American West were dropped simultaneously into a particle supercollider and then accelerated at high speed into a blended explosion of what was and what shall be.

Eugene is home to foresters and farmers, poets and philosophers, loggers and lumbermen, students, activists, and scientists. The famous University of Oregon campus flows into a city that looks and feels like no other. And dotting the intersections and highway underpasses of it all are tents, hundreds (if not thousands) of tents. Those tents are homes to those without homes, refuge to the refuge-less. And on my first visit to this region, their presence simultaneously concerned and intrigued me.

It was lumber that brought me to Eugene. I was joining the board of directors of a sawmilling- and timberland-owning company nearby. On my first drive into town I passed one tent colony and then another. The following day, I found a few more. It soon became clear that a transient community had established a presence here, and I couldn’t stop questioning its meaning and messages.

Have the tent dwellers failed—or been failed by—society? Are those gathered within the tent colonies of free spirits of sound mind, collectively rejecting society as it’s currently constructed? Is this a population that’s sick and addicted, healthy and intentional, or both? What is the DNA of this transient community and why has Eugene attracted more of them per capita than any other city in America?

Pondering all of this brought me back to my favorite question that I believe lives at the root of all social disharmony:

What if everybody on Earth felt trusted, respected, valued, safe, and heard?

If everyone on Earth felt trusted, respected, valued, safe, and heard—what might change?

I believe everything might change.

But the question is how is such a lofty yet exceptionally accessible goal best achieved?

I’ve thought a lot about social problems such as this one, and I’ve concluded that the most powerful solutions are administered locally. National governments are reduced to national responses, typically to a circumstance that has already spiraled out of control. But humanity moves one human at a time, and no two humans share identical stories or solutions. This is why we must come to realize that we are living in the age of localism. In the twenty-first century, the people right in front of you are the ones you are called on to impact.

I have dealt with similar thought patterns during my time at Pine Ridge.  The depth of helping everyone is overwhelming.  But the possibility of helping someone, human to human is always actionable.

In the Aquarian Age that is upon us we need a return to local level leadership.  Power is dispersed.  The ability to create change dwells within us all.  Waiting for bureaucracy to administer bureaucratic solutions is a fool’s errand.  Neighbor to neighbor, soul to soul.  Humanity moves one human at a time.  What if we all simply committed to help the people we encounter today feel trusted, respected, valued, safe, and heard?  Now that is actionable and often free. That’s a mission both you and I can advance today.

In a matter of days I was leaving Eugene, Oregon. I wasn’t going to be the one to take on homelessness in this funky Western town. But I did recognize these tent cities. They are manifestations of what happens when humans lose their voice, their sense of safety, and their respect for self within the larger society that surrounds them.

What if everybody on Earth felt trusted, respected, valued, heard, and safe?

What might change?

I believe everything might change. And that is something I will work on. I hope you will join me. We’ll work on it together, with the people right in front of us.

“I never met a ragged boy in the street without feeling that I may owe him a salute, for I know not what possibilities may be buttoned up under his coat.”

—James Garfield

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-sixth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




Midwest Book Review: 48 Whispers

In this blog article, 48 Whispers appears in Helen Dumont’s bookshelf to be reviewed. She writes a synopsis of the book for her readers, describing why Kevin Hancock journeyed to Pine Ridge over 20 times. Helen writes in her review that “[48 Whispers] is especially and unreservedly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Contemporary American Photography collections.”

Click here to read the full article.




Sincerely Stacie Feature – 48 Whispers

In this article, Stacie Gorkow, owner of the blog Sincerely Stacie, highlights 48 Whispers is on her “Books That Came My Way in August 2021” post. She gives a small preview of the book and what it’s about in her post. She writes reviews on recently read books and makes recommendations.

Click here to see her full article.




#35 | THE POWER OF PRAYER

“The function of prayer is not to influence God,
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”

—Soren Kierkegaard

Catherine, speaking only in Lakota, conversed with the buffalo scattered across the high grasslands of what is today Wind Cave National Park in present-day South Dakota.

The wind blew as it always does here, as the low dark clouds dragged themselves by. Whippoorwills sang and then answered their own calls. As each buffalo passed by, Catherine waved. These were not just unrelated and detached animals she was watching. The buffalo and the Lakota people have long been brothers and sisters. This was family, and as such, this was a reunion.

Despite this being traditional Lakota land, Catherine had never been to Wind Cave National Park, and it had been a long time since she’d been in the presence of buffalo. For Catherine, each buffalo was a related spirit, and she acknowledged them as such. Toward the end of our visit, she raised her hands in prayer. Eyes closed, she prayed . . . and she prayed. Given that her words were in Lakota, I understood nothing, yet I understood everything.

* * *

Catherine always prays. I’ve never spent a day with her, shared a meal with her, or exchanged a text message with her that did not involve prayer. Prayer is, for Catherine, central to how one navigates this world and embraces the next.

Catherine Grey Day was born on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. Coming of age, she experienced firsthand the harshness of reservation life in the 1950s, as well as the tribal protests against the historic oppression of her people in the 1960s and ’70s. She attended boarding school where she was sent to be “remade” in the white person’s image.

As an adult Catherine escaped abuse, fleeing alone in the middle of the night from her home. She buried one son in his early twenties, and then a few years later, did the same for the other. She later opened clinics and safe houses for other native women escaping domestic abuse. She had homes, and was homeless. Catherine is simultaneously a realist and an optimist. In the same conversation she will laugh and she will cry. And all the while, she prays.

“I have many spirit guides,” Catherine once told me. “There are those I know and those I don’t recognize, but I talk and pray with them all. Some people think I’m crazy because I talk to them, but I don’t care. They’re with me all the time.

“Each morning, alone during coffee, I pray,” Catherine continues. “I pray for lots of people, so it takes a long time. Prayer is real. It’s heard by the spirit world and it travels as energy to those I am praying for. I pray for you, Kevin. I pray for your family and employees in Maine. I pray for everyone I know and care about. I even pray for those who have hurt me.”

* * *

 

I am a spiritualist who is also attracted to science. This dual interest has led me to realize that scientists and spiritualists are actually on the trail of the same universal truths.

One of my favorite books on this subject is The Field, by Lynne McTaggart. Her thesis is that all the energy of the Universe is actually connected by an invisible web of electromagnetic threads. There is no separation or detachment. What happens to one reverberates across all.

“During the past few years science and medicine have been converging with common sense, confirming a widespread belief that everything―especially the mind and the body―is far more connected than traditional physics ever allowed.  Our body extends electromagnetically beyond ourselves and it is within this field that we can find a remarkable new way of looking at health, sickness, memory, will, creativity, intuition, the soul, consciousness, and spirituality.”

-Lynn McTaggert

With this fresh scientific insight, let us revisit the indigenous commitment to prayer that Catherine espouses. Catherine has long understood that prayer is real. That it travels. That it is heard. That spirit responds. Prayer is connected. Its energy moves.

This spiritual understanding of prayer suddenly has a scientific underpinning. If all energy is connected, then that includes thought energy. In this context ideas would reverberate. Prayer, which is nothing more than deep, intentional thought, would therefore move with purpose across space and time.

The Lakota have long known that everything is connected. Mitakuye Oyasin, they say, which translates as “All things are one thing,” or “We are all brothers.” It is with this understanding that Catherine speaks to the buffalo and prays for their well-being.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Catherine, and I’m pretty sure she knows something about prayer that the rest of us could build upon. In fact, if my experiences at Pine Ridge have taught me anything, it’s that the old wisdom is the pathway toward new wisdom. So pray on Catherine, pray on.

 

“In the silence of the heart, God speaks.”

—Mother Teresa

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-fifth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




We Believe in Shared Leadership

In this article, Kevin Hancock is interviewed about his progressive view on shared leadership. He shares how the lumber industry is often misunderstood and seen as outdated, but he says this is inaccurate. Everything from the technology inside the sawmills to the culture fostered at the company is modern and innovative. Kevin explains more about why the shared leadership, employee-first company model has been so successful.

“The company focuses on the employee experience, and in doing so, positions employees to really create a world-class customer experience.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




Book Spin Feature – 48 Whispers

In this article, Kevin Hancock’s newest book, 48 Whispers, is highlighted as a book in the “To Be Read” stack. In this small overview of the book, it highlights Kevin’s personal journey of healing and how he found the Lakota tribe at Pine Ridge. It also brings his shared leadership philosophy forward and the influence losing his own voice had upon this new business model.

Click here to read the full article.




#34 | EIGHT BILLION ENTREPRENEURS

“All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in the human DNA.”

—Reid Hoffman

Entrepreneur is one of the least-understood words in business, and possibly the entire English language.

We tend to equate it with an elite and short list of icons. Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Henry Ford, and Sam Walton, to name a few.

I see the word differently.

To me, life on Earth forces entrepreneurship upon us all. There are eight billion people alive today, and all of them will be called upon to be entrepreneurs.

* * *

“An entrepreneur is someone who takes a risk to create something new.”

—Dan Sullivan

By that criterion, we are all entrepreneurs.

Life itself—the mere act of being born, coming of age, and then growing old—demands entrepreneurship.

My yearlong essay series is dedicated to the importance and potential of self-actualization. We are all born into a tribe. We each belong at birth to a specific family that lives within a defined culture at a set moment in time. That setting or backdrop pulls on us to speak a certain language, adopt a certain God, and acquire a certain worldview.

But within the social context of our birth tribe we are also here to individuate and learn to see the larger human and universal community to which we also belong. We are each in pursuit of our own true voice. That journey, which comes for us all, invariably requires entrepreneurship.

Most of the small and big acts of our lives are entrepreneurial. In school, when you write an essay, you are creating something new. In chorus, when you lend your voice to a performance, the music changes. On the athletic field the team you join is instantly altered by your presence. Everything around you changes when you engage with it, and engaging with the world around you involves risk.

This is true in the world of work as well. Our company, Hancock Lumber, has six hundred employees, and every one of them is an entrepreneur.

* * *

Conventional thinking around multigenerational businesses is another example of misunderstanding entrepreneurship. For example, I am the sixth generation of my family to serve as CEO of our company. By a limited definition of entrepreneurship, only my great-grandfather’s grandfather was the entrepreneur, since he started the company. But the truth is, every subsequent generation must be entrepreneurial or perish.

During the Great Depression my great-grandfather built lakeside cottages to keep people employed and to keep the business alive. My own father built a brand-new sawmill, was the first to expand our retail business to multiple sites, and created a unique ownership structure to recruit and retail top leadership talent.

As for me, well—my favorite approach is to describe that which we have survived. In my thirty years with the company I was told more than once that each of the following events would mean the decline or demise of our business:

  • The transitioning from a fifth to a sixth generation of family management.
  • The emergence of Walmart, Home Depot, and other big-box stores.
  • The dawning age of globalization and the importing of manufactured goods from a worldwide marketplace.
  • The age of Amazon, e-commerce, and online sales.
  • The near-complete collapse of the national mortgage and housing markets in 2007.
  • The partial loss of my voice to a rare neurological speaking disorder.

And yet across the thirty years that have been defined by these events, our company has grown tenfold.

What created and enabled not just our survival, but our growth and expansion? The answer is entrepreneurship.

By whom? The answer is by everyone connected to our company—employees, managers, owners, customers, and suppliers. And should the company one day fade away, then we’ll all have to be entrepreneurs all over again—moving on and creating something new. In the absence of that, I will one day retire. This will require entrepreneurship, as well, for me to reinvent myself once again, and for the company to do the same.

The death of one thing is the entrepreneurial beginning of another. The Universe itself is entrepreneurial, and humans are manifestations of that universal energy.

Every day on Earth is an entrepreneurial day.

Every life on Earth is an entrepreneurial life.

You are an entrepreneur.

 

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

—Winston Churchill

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-fourth post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!




#33 | BECOMING EMPLOYEE-CENTRIC

“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer.
I think you build one with your employees first.”

—Angela Ahrendts

The first mission of a modern company should be to advance and enhance the lives of the people who work there. All other corporate value creation is derived from this central priority.

Companies that do this become “employee-centric.” They reach every goal and responsibility of a great corporation through the mastery of this first mission. Only on the wings of thriving employees can twenty-first-century companies soar.

I learned this by accident as the CEO of one of the oldest family businesses in America (Hancock Lumber, founded in 1848).

In 2010 I acquired a rare voice disorder (spasmodic dysphonia) that made speaking difficult. Suddenly I was forced to let others, eventually everyone, become our collective corporate voice. Over time, the more focus we put on strengthening the voices of our employees, the better we performed. This was the birth of our employee-centric mission. Help employees feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard—and everything else just happens. It’s magical, simple, and now tested. In the 10 years that followed we outperformed the previous 160.

So, what did we learn?
What are the rules of creating an employee-centric company,
and what changes occur when you become one?

First, the rules:

  1. The mission changes. The new mission is irresistible. Make the work experience highly meaningful for the people who do it. The old mission would have been about something like sales growth or shareholder value. Those are still important, but they are now wonderful outcomes of a higher calling.
  2. The top corporate metric changes. A new mission requires a new metric. Since enhancing the employee experiences is the new mission, measuring that experience as defined by the employees themselves becomes the new first-priority metric. We accomplish this through third-party engagement surveys. The national average for employee engagement is 34 percent. Ours is 88 percent.
  3. The purpose of listening changes. Listening, not talking, becomes the new management priority (thank you, voice disorder!). But for this to be effective, managers must adopt a new reason for doing the listening. Listening is for understanding, not judgment.
  4. A safe culture for people to say what they actually think is established. In a company driven by listening, it is essential to make it safe for people to speak with their authentic voice. In this approach, an employee perspective is not “right” or “wrong”; it’s simply valued and honored as it stands.
  5. Ego is transcended. It is here that business ceases to be a modern-day Roman Colosseum where “work warriors” prove their supremacy through conquest. Instead, the company becomes a place where adults gather to learn, share, create, experiment, find meaning, add value to the lives of others, and grow. In this model managers become facilitators, not gladiators.
  6. Sustain these rules for thirty-six months from the top of your organization all the way to the front line and back again, and you will become an employee-centric company.

When you become employee-centric, here’s what will be different:

  1. Everyone will be sharing the responsibilities of leadership.
  2. Ideas will be overflowing and acted upon in countless dynamic ways across your organization.
  3. Discipline and commitment to accuracy, best practices, and core operating systems will increase exponentially. People support what they help to create.
  4. The heavy lifting of running a company will become lighter for everyone.
  5. Most importantly, meaning—real, deep, authentic, human meaning—will have been injected into the very core of your corporate existence. What it means to be a business will have been reimagined. Advancing humanity is what your company does now.
  6. Corporate performance takes off as the outcome of a new, and higher, calling.
  7. In the process, winning is redefined. Winning isn’t winning unless everyone is advancing.

* * *

This all sounds irresistible and universally beneficial. So what would possibly prevent a corporate leadership team from pursuing this mission?

The answer is the same thing that has tripped up humans and their leaders for eons: ego, overreaching, the inertia of the status quo, and a lack of deep appreciation for the full potential of the individual human spirit.

Humanity advances one human at a time.  As a result, companies can learn to thrive by simply putting their focus on the human beings right in front of them—their employees.

 

“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines
of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”

—Martin Luther King

 

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-third post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




#32 | NOMADS

“I am a wild, wandering nomad, I belong everywhere and nowhere all at the same time, and in that gap between worlds, I am free.”

—Ritta Klint

I’m fascinated by the nomadic past of the Sioux tribes on the northern plains.

Before the reservation era, the Sioux moved freely across a vast territory stretching from the Missouri River to the Bighorn Mountains. They followed both the seasons and the buffalo, carrying with them everything they owned. The region at the time was boundary-less, void of fences, railroad tracks, or roads. Endless seas of grass surround Paha Sapa (the Black Hills), and each tribe moved through them on foot and horse. Travois were dragged, first by dogs and later horses, leaving a track that could be seen and followed for miles. Thus was the life of a nomadic community.

Over the course of twenty visits to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the surrounding plains, I have often envied (and certainly romanticized) that existence. And in my own modern way I have adopted it when I go there. In a world defined by schedules, appointments, and possessions, I’ve come to love my short interludes as a nomad.

Me. Somewhere in the ancestral homeland of Crazy Horse. Date unknown.

Each time I visit Pine Ridge I conclude with several days of wandering across a region I have come to call “The Land of Crazy Horse.” The territory I’ve explored stretches from Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Billings, Montana, and from Rapid City, South Dakota, to the Bighorn Mountains.

I travel alone and I travel light. I have no agenda (which is an agenda in and of itself), and I prefer not knowing where I will stay when nightfall arrives.

When I’m tired, I sleep. When I wake up, I go. When I’m hungry, I eat. When a trailhead speaks to me, I follow it.

I crank the radio on certain songs. I roll down the windows in snowstorms. I pee on the side of the road.

My possessions are minimal. Blue jeans or hiking pants, wool sweaters and camo Under Armour, a ball cap and a knit hat, gloves, and boots are my uniform. Inside my backpack: bottled water, a small camera, a well-worn journal, an iPhone, my wallet, a rain jacket, and, hopefully, my car keys. That’s it.

On a seldom-used trail, deep in the backcountry of Wind Cave National Park or among the abandoned relics of a fort few remember, I walk both into and with the wind. The grass sways, the dust swirls, the sky evolves, and the buffalo appear, then vanish. When the need to sit overtakes me, I plop down. When ideas manifest, I write. When energy surges, I walk, or even run. There is no pattern, yet it’s all patterned. For that moment, that day, that week . . . I’m a nomad.

* * *

What is it about the nomadic life that pulls me in?

Simplicity.

Spontaneity.

Silence.

Immersion.

Clarity.

Mystery.

Thoughts.

The absence of thoughts.

Freedom.

Fragility.

Immortality.

Connectivity.

Humility.

Immensity.

It’s all there in a single day of nomadic life. The call of the wild. The lure of an empty road. For a moment I am title-less, nameless, and role-less. It’s energizing and grounding.

When I get home, I see better. I hear better. I think more clearly. I’m calmer. I then aspire to hold those energies as long as I can back in the world of sedentary work and repetitive patterns.

I do love my traditional life and roles as a husband, father, CEO, neighbor, and community member.  I’m grateful for them all.

But I must admit, I do relish touching periodically the foundational base of all human ancestry. I love, for just a few days each year, being a nomad.

“We preferred our own way of living. We were no expense to the government. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone.”

—Crazy Horse

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

______

This is the thirty-second post in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




#31 | THE HUMAN RACE

“A lion sleeps in the heart of every man.”
—Old Turkish Proverb

The Human Race. Naples, Florida.

At the corner of a serene collection of shops and restaurants in the Park Shore neighborhood of Naples, Florida, stand two twenty-four-foot curved stainless-steel columns. At first glance this giant piece of minimalist art reveals little specific meaning. But upon closer inspection one can see the leg of not one, but two metallic humans. One is surging forward while the other lags behind. According to its creator, the work of art symbolizes the inherent competition between individuals, “whether in business or in other aspects of life.” The name of the sculpture is The Human Race.

If you don’t believe in the human soul and its transcendent existence beyond the confines of a single lifetime, perhaps you could just play along.

I’ll begin by suggesting that souls consciously enter human bodies at or before birth with intention, with a mission. It’s a voluntary assignment and, as such, it has a purpose.

My friend, psychologist and evolutionary astrologist Deborah Dooley, lives near Stanford University in California. She is one of the most intuitive thinkers I know when it comes to seeing the human experience in the context of its mostly concealed spiritual purpose. She calls Earth the planet of fear and death, and in that story the human soul’s mission goes something like this . . .

Life eats life, the twentieth-century American mythologist Joseph Campbell was fond of saying. It is for an obvious reason far easier to name examples of mythologies of war than mythologies of peace; for not only has conflict between groups been normal to human experience, but there is also the cruel fact to be recognized that killing is the precondition of all living whatsoever: life lives on life, eats life, and would otherwise not exist.

Think, for example, of a male African lion in the prime of his vitality. That lion has a pride of females, lesser males, and cubs. That lion also has a territory, which he patrols, marks, and protects. That lion will fight any other aspiring adult male to retain or overtake control of a pride. That lion will even kill the young offspring of a vanquished rival so as to send the female back into a reproductive cycle that will bear his blood. All the while that lion and his pride will rise or fall on their ability to kill in order to eat, and therefore, survive. That lion shall reign only so long has he can be victorious in all of those roles.

This is the cycle of life on Earth, into which spirit incarnates. It must be a far cry from the resting place from which the soul came—that place the Sioux call “the world of spirit that lives beside this one.”

So why would souls incarnate, perhaps again and again—as many cultures believe—to voluntarily come to this planet of carnage, competition, and death? The answer is to see if those souls, embodied in human form, can ultimately transform this planetary conundrum over time, with love.

That’s our shared spiritual mission on Earth, and the wisest among us have prophesied it all.

“In earth, as it is in heaven.”
—King James Bible

“The heavens and the earth were joined together as one unit.”
—The Koran

Work out your own salvation.”
—Buddha

If we could change ourselves, the tendencies of the world would also change.”
—Gandhi

If this was the collective mission of all souls, it would surely change the nature of human competition, for we would see ourselves on a shared journey. Competition, as captured in The Human Race sculpture, would still be essential for progress, but it would now serve a higher purpose.

Humanity must become more productive, innovative, adaptive, and creative in order to manifest abundance for all. But as we strive toward these goals, we must also bring more love and care for humanity into that competitive arena, so that the economic work of advancing humanity is also spiritually rewarding and uplifting.

Imagine humanity at its best—its very best.

Then imagine humanity at its worst.

The gap between the two possibilities is enormous, and it’s where we now lie.

Few great feats have ever been accomplished or sustained without a clear and compelling mission.

My church has a mission. The college I attended has a mission. Hancock Lumber has a mission. So, too, does America.

But what about humanity?

What is humanity’s irresistible mission, and who is prioritizing it?

Let us see if a world based on “life eating life” can transform itself into a world led by love.

Ultimately, what I like most about adopting this mission is that it might actually work, simply by pretending that it is so. Transforming Planet Earth from a place of fear to one of love is the real Human Race.

 

“It is my belief that the only power that can resist the power of fear is the power of love.”
—Alan Paton

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.




#30 | THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS

“The collective unconscious contains the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution born anew in the brain structure of every individual.”

—Carl Jung

Speaking mostly in Lakota, Medicine Man begins to talk, then chant, then pray, then sing. Others, circled in darkness, echo in response. The heat within the hut quickly intensifies and the sweat comes easily.

This ceremony could be taking place one hundred—or four hundred—years ago. My body is covered in sweat, which mixes with the dirt on my hands, arms, legs, and chest. This is a sacred ritual of the Sioux known for generations as “the making of relatives,” and I am fully immersed.

Later that evening as steam dissipates from our bodies into the cool night air of northern Nebraska, my newly anointed brother, Lester Lone Hill, is sitting beside me on a log.

“That medicine man is a ‘trickster,’ ” Lester explains. “He brings humor and the element of surprise into his ceremonies. He likes to keep everything light and entertaining.”

* * *

A week later, back home in Maine, I am reading about indigenous rituals when I come across the “trickster” persona. It turns out he is present in the mythology, folklore, and spirituality of many tribes across the globe. From North America, to Africa, to Australia, the trickster is an honored ceremonial figure. How could the same thematic character manifest globally among disparate cultures separated by oceans and epochs?

Carl Jung, the nineteenth-century Swiss analytical psychologist, understood why.

The answer lies in what he described as the collective unconscious of the human race which represents the cumulative learning of all humans across all human time. It’s the shared experience of humanity, and it’s passed from generation to generation through stories. It also manifests as instincts and intuition in newborns and children. Think of it this way: If you believe that an individual human soul survives a body’s death, then it stands to reason that the collective experiential energy of all human souls survives as well.

Mythology, Jung said, is the expression of this collective unconscious. It’s how we give earthly context to that which we intuitively know in the inner depths of being, where soul resides. That’s why it’s common for the stories and symbols of different cultures to share similar characteristics. The presence of good and evil is one example that appears universally in all mythologies.

The hero archetype also lives in the stories of every human culture. The hero generally starts out as an ordinary person, living an ordinary life. A challenge then arises which disrupts much of what the hero holds dear, forcing him or her to confront their circumstances in a saga that ultimately transforms them into someone different than they were before. The external story, which may feature strange beasts, threatening gods, and foreign lands, is actually an archetypal adventure symbolic of the inner journey of transcending our unconscious fears.

As Jung once said, Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

What’s the relevance of this to an essay series devoted to self-awareness, shared leadership, and dispersed power? The answer is that each personal life odyssey is both an individual and a collective experience. What happens to one happens to all. Progress by one is progress for all. As each individual moves his or her karmic energy forward, it becomes a drop of learning in the larger pool of all human experiences.

This is why awareness of our shared humanity is essential. Your experiences, however trivial they may feel, ultimately impact the entire trajectory of humanity through our shared collective unconscious. And this is why we must create the change we wish to see by working first on ourselves.

All human journeys matter and this is where love comes in. We must aspire to bring unconditional love (acceptance of people as they are) into our daily lives. Each seemingly ordinary shift at work and each “chance” encounter with a stranger is never really just that. It’s more. It’s always more. Every moment yields another journal entry into the collective unconscious of humanity, which ultimately determines both our personal and shared trajectory across space and time.

In the end we rise, plateau, or fall together.

“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”

—Carl Jung

__________
This is the thirtieth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers.
My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them.
On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.
To receive future posts from Kevin, simply click on the link below. This will trigger an e-mail where you can confirm and subscribe. Thank you!



#29 | THE PROBLEM WITH IT ALL . . .

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.”

—Mahatma Gandhi

 

The potential blessing of this essay series is that I am writing from experience.

The potential problem with this essay series is that I am writing from experience.

* * *

When I decided to write this yearlong series about shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices, I simultaneously felt excitement and trepidation. This essay is devoted to the trepidation.

Close to the last thing this world needs is another CEO or anointed leader saying “Look at me.” I was so worried about this one point that I almost didn’t write this essay series at all. In fact, at one point I called it off and had to be talked back into sharing by my friends Kourtney and Erin from our communications team.

Then there was the challenge of the website upon which to post and host my writing. Prior to commencing this series the site was small and personal. As such, the site name was www.kevindhancock.com, but that too threw me off.

“It’s the message that’s important, not the messenger,” I said to Kourtney and Erin.

So we went back to the drawing board and changed the name of the site to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com. That felt better.

But we still had the same basic problem to overcome. I was writing in large part about my own ideas, which came from my own experiences, which often played out at our company. How do I share without implying that my experiences are uniquely valuable? How do I provide sound guidance to others while still honoring my own fallibility and weaknesses?

“I’ll just have to write about it,” I ultimately said to Kourtney and Erin.

And here I go . . .

The point of sharing my personal story is not that you should follow it. In my story I struggle to guide a two-century-old lumber company through the collapse of the housing market (2007–2010) only to lose some of my voice to a rare neurological speech disorder (spasmodic dysphonia), which then sent me journeying more than twenty times to a remote Indian reservation in South Dakota (Pine Ridge), where I met an entire community that did not feel heard. This experience helped me to realize that there are lots of ways to lose one’s voice in this world, and that leaders have often done more to restrict the voices of others than to liberate them. This, in turn, led me to rededicate my CEO role to strengthening the voices of others.

I am not recommending you do any of that.

Follow me is not the point of this essay series. In fact, to follow me would be to miss the point.

The point of this essay series is to Follow you.

My life got a lot better once I embraced my path and learned to follow. I could only have found that path by looking within myself. My opportunity appeared in the form of pain and setback.

Here’s the other important point: I likely look better from afar than I do up close! I’m actually a very ordinary person and CEO. I make lots of mistakes, both big and small. I drink too much soda. I eat too much fast food. I don’t give our dogs enough consistent love. I get impatient at times. I get self-absorbed at times. I fall out of living in the moment. I don’t always make the bed if I’m the last one out of it. At work I’m not always a great listener. I sometimes forget to have the patience for process. Sometimes I come in late. Sometimes I leave early. I can’t always do what I write about.

Our company, Hancock Lumber, is exceedingly human as well. We have excessive turnover in some parts of our company. Occasionally people get injured at work. Sometimes we make decisions without including everyone. Employees regularly have good reasons to be disappointed in part of their work experience. Customers, too, at times.

It’s important to me that you know all this.

It’s important to me that I confess.

Only in the spirit of humility can this essay series work.

Within that context we can share with benefit. Once we transcend ego we can learn from each other. In fact, to grow collectively, we must. Each individual life story flows into a shared human experience. What happens to one happens ultimately to us all. Your journey, not mine, must be your preoccupation. Out there before you is a path that only you will walk and a story only you will tell. In this realization, the concept of hero is redefined. Every one of us has embarked on a hero’s journey disguised as something ordinary.

 

“Great leaders don’t need to act tough.”

—Simon Sinek

_____

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.




Q&A: Company Culture, Productivity, and Retention: How Does Your Company Measure Up?

The Softwood Forest Products Buyer is reaching out to company leaders across the industry to solicit their input on key issues that impact overall business success. In this publication, Kevin Hancock shares his insights.

“Some organizations collect leadership power into the bureaucratic center, where a few people can make the majority of the decisions for the many. This is the traditional model of business—and government—leadership and, during a period of time in human history, this may have been optimal. But, that time has passed.

In the 21st century, organizations that disperse power, share leadership, and give everyone a voice are going to win because they recognize and celebrate the capabilities of everyone on the team. These types of cultures don’t see employees as expendable commodities whose purpose is to serve the company. In fact, these types of cultures flip the traditional script by recognizing that the company exists to serve the people who work there. In a great company, profit is an outcome of a higher calling. That higher calling is the celebration of the human spirit and human capacity. In this way, culture makes all the difference.” Read the complete interview here >>>




#28 | SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP

“Strange what being slowed down could do to a person.”

—Nicholas Sparks

 

Here’s a picture of me actually demonstrating what I learned on the basketball court about the importance of slowing down to speed up!

Even though the gymnasium was filled with whistles, shouting, and squeaking sneakers, I can still hear the coach’s wisdom nearly forty years later.

I was at SWISH basketball camp at the University of Southern Maine, a junior in high school preparing for my senior year, and college competition beyond. We were working on dribble moves—penetration with the basketball into gaps designed to draw excess defenders and create open teammates.

“Slow down to speed up,” the coach had just instructed me.

I had hurried through a hesitation crossover dribble, thinking that faster was better.

“The hesitation is of no value unless you give it the gift of time,” the coach continued. “You’ve got to give the defender time to pause in response to your own pause. You’ve got to slow down to speed up.”

* * *

Decades later, I value those same words as both a CEO and a human.

From 1997 to 2010 I was the fast-moving CEO of Hancock Lumber Company. At that time I had a booming, infallible young voice and near-boundless energy. I would routinely work from six a.m. to six p.m., racing from location to location, using first my Dictaphone and later my cell phone between stops at stores, mills, and construction sites. If there was meeting to be had, I would attend it. It there was a problem to solve, I would solve it. If there was a sale to close, I would close it.

That defined my life as an average-performing CEO of an average-performing company.

The boss gets first dibs on all the work, I’ve become fond of saying.

Then, in 2010, I had a front-row seat to a double train wreck. First, the housing and mortgage markets collapsed and average-performing companies suddenly became vulnerable. Second, in response to the stress of the first event, I acquired a rare voice disorder that made speaking extremely difficult. Without warning, or training in how to do so, I had no choice but to slow down.

It took me about five years of therapy before I could even use the phone again. Running every meeting was now impossible. I began asking questions in response to questions, to put the conversation back in the hands of the other person and protect my broken voice. Listening, delegating, sharing the stage, and doing less, not more, became my new forced modus operandi.

Only then, ironically, did I begin to learn a little something about leadership.

* * *

Today I’m a CEO who advocates slowing down organizations and the people within them.

Here’s one specific example of how I’ve pursued that path.

Over the span of several years at Hancock Lumber we were able to reduce the average hourly work week in our stores from 48 hours per week to 41. At the same time we increased annual compensation. People were making more money and acquiring the gift of time. Seven hours a week may not sound like a lot until you multiply it by the length of a career (say, thirty years). That’s 10,920 hours.

To accomplish this, we had to take on the worst possible pay structure for the twenty-first century: overtime. Overtime pay incentivizes one outcome: working longer. In the modern age of accuracy, productivity, and lean practices, what companies should reward is employees making the work take less time, not more. This can be achieved through higher hourly pay rates for everyone complemented by bonus and incentive systems that encourage themes such as accuracy, safety, and the elimination of re-work.

As human productivity at work expands, we can use some of that freed capacity to make more lumber and deliver more building materials. But, we can also use some of that newfound time to just plain work less.

Today I talk regularly about putting the work back in its place. Work should be important, not all-consuming.

My next goal is to pursue the potential of the four-day work week. For our drivers and manufacturing teams, for example, that would be four 10-hour days. If we had four delivery trucks at a store and we wanted those trucks to be on the road 50 hours a week, we would have five drivers each working four days.

Great companies will keep finding ways to help employees earn more money, but they will also increasingly give their team members something perhaps even more important: the gift of time. Work should not be hurried, hectic, or chaotic. Nor should it be all-consuming. Great companies, like great point guards, will learn to Slow down to speed up.

 

“Sometimes I think there are only two instructions we need to follow to develop and deepen our spiritual life: slow down and let go.”

—Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 

______

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

 




#27 | THE DIVERSE POTENTIAL OF SHARED LEADERSHIP

“Do not wait for the green light. You are the green light.”

—Dr. Jacinta Mpalyenkana

Shortly after participating in the Leadership Learning Exchange for Equity sponsored by the Maine Community Foundation, I received a poignant question from one of my favorite global citizens within our company:

What are we doing to bring more underrepresented groups into our company?

I had barely finished reading the query when I quickly began typing a response. I was halfway through a hasty diatribe listing the “actions” I had taken, or would soon take, when I caught myself on the brink of breaking all of my most cherished rules of shared leadership and dispersed power.

I was one of nearly six hundred people working at our company across sixteen sites. That company was woven into the fabric of many communities and supported by thousands of customers and supply partners. Yet here I was preparing to talk about what I alone would do. Ha!

Thankfully I caught myself in time and regrouped. What I could do was important, especially as CEO, but it paled in comparison to what we could do together on the subject of expanding sexual, racial, and ethnic diversity within our company, specifically, and, more broadly, the lumber industry as a whole.

So I dragged that first e-mail over to the recycle bin, let it go, and started again. Here is a segment of the new message I composed and sent.

Thank you for bringing this question forth. First, I always maintain that our core accomplishment is to have a highly successful company that is sustaining more jobs, better jobs, and higher pay. I like making the overall economic pie bigger. We pay close attention to average and median wage earnings within our company, and we want them to grow FASTER than the national average and FASTER than inflation. For close to a decade now we have been able to do that. That’s the economic part.

Then there is the social part, and specifically the goal of broadening the diversity of who contributes to and benefits from our company’s success. In keeping with my personal value system of shared leadership, I think the ultimate solution is for all individuals who work at Hancock Lumber to expand their own personal networks in diverse ways AND then recommend, connect, and refer people from those enlarged communities to career opportunities within our company and industry. If every individual in our company were to engage with the subject of diversity on a personal level, that alone would move the needle you speak of. As the people within our company change (myself included, of course), our company will become something different.

Before sending that message I talked with our HR team and asked what percentage of our new hires came from internal referrals. The answer was about 50 percent. This data seemed to mathematically support shared leadership. If everyone in our company expanded the diversity of their personal network, this would invariably translate into more diversity within our company.

The traditional, centralized model of hierarchical leadership would put the responsibility for crafting a “corporate diversity initiative” in the hands of a tiny, select group of individuals. That approach in itself is antithetical to broad inclusion. Conversely, everyone in the company could take up the cause and become a personal agent of change. At Hancock Lumber we have found time and again that when everyone owns the responsibilities of leadership, the outcomes are far more effective, dynamic, and sustainable.

The problem with waiting for the CEO to proclaim his or her diversity plan is that the creative potential of all the other amazing people in our company gets put on hold. In that model everyone else is relegated to the structured roles of spectator, evaluator, and “to-do list follower.”

Dispersed power is the key to expanding diversity within a company (or any community). Every person at Hancock Lumber has the capacity to broaden their network, reach out across traditionally divided lines, and make new friends in new places, starting today. If all 600 of us at Hancock Lumber each made 1 new friend from a previously unvisited community every ninety days, that would produce 2,400 new and diverse relationships in a year. A portion of those relationships would surely flow right into our company. All of those relationships would, more importantly, advance humanity.

There is no question that C-level leaders must prioritize diversity, but that’s best accomplished by inviting everyone within the organization to lead the new-friend-making and old-barrier-breaking work. Diversity, like everything else, expands one human at a time.

“Attempting to constantly control everyone and everything around you is not only exhausting . . . it is also futile. The only real power you can achieve in this life is being in control of yourself.”

—Anthon St. Maarten

 

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

__________

This is the twenty-seventh in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To receive future posts from Kevin, simply click here. This will trigger an e-mail where you can confirm and subscribe. Thank you!



#26 | “TRUST IS THE COIN OF THE REALM”

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

—Ernest Hemingway

On December 13, 2020, former secretary of state George Shultz turned one hundred years old. On that day he published an essay musing over what he had learned across a century of living, and a career that included serving three US presidents. He concluded that in all of his varied experiences—businessman, diplomat, economist, professor, husband, father, athlete, and war veteran—one lesson surfaced above all others.

Put simply, Shultz wrote, trust is the coin of the realm. When trust was in the room—whatever room that was—the family room, the schoolroom, the coaches’ room, or the military room—good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is in the details.

* * *

I’ve pondered this well-earned piece of wisdom multiple times since reading Mr. Shultz’s reflections. When I reexamine my own life, his conclusion has held true in every circumstance. Trust, it seems, is the secret sauce in the recipe for high-performing leaders and teams.

So how do you build trust? And, equally as important, how is trust eroded?

I often write about my time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and my learnings there. Pine Ridge is a place where distrust in government runs deep. That distrust was earned by repeated acts of betrayal, broken promises, and a lack of follow-through on the part of American political leaders and their operational bureaucrats.

At Pine Ridge there is also an additional layer of historic distrust toward people who are white. This too was earned. For nearly a century white people from away came to reservation communities like this one with the intention of “remaking” Indians in their own image.

In both cases trust was broken by the group with the most influence, control, and power. Once broken, trust can take lifetimes—even generations—to restore.

Today, however, there are many people at Pine Ridge who trust me, and I trust them in return. How was that trust established in the wake of such a dubious trail?

The answer? Direct, personal, and sustained connectivity. I ate, slept, and hung out there over and over and over again. In return, people invested their time in me. Eventually, trust was established.

“I can see you have a good heart,” my now dear friend Catherine Grey Day said to me after our fourth visit together. Today she calls me “Misum,” or “little brother.”

Distance breeds unfamiliarity, and that can manifest as distrust. If I do not know you personally, I will likely default to the historical experiences of my community.

Perhaps the most intriguing yet debilitating aspect of trust and distrust is that you can almost always prove you are right.  There is almost always an available reason to be distrustful.

* * *

In the past ten years Hancock Lumber has been fortunate to experience sustained success. We’ve established new performance records and then reset them multiple times.

Beyond good fortune, what would I attribute this to?

Trust.

For seven years in a row we have been one of the Best Places to Work in Maine. In each of those years we broke our own records for sales, productivity, and profitability.

So which came first? Did the high performance create a best place to work, or did becoming a best place to work enable the high performance?

For those of us who have been there, the answer is clear: It was focusing first on the employee experience that subsequently created the corporate performance surge.  Trust within the organization among the people who worked there came first.   

In high-performing companies, employees do not expect everything to be perfect. Everyone knows there will always be new challenges to overcome and problems to work through. But they trust that through it all the company will prioritize them. They trust that the company will not put its own needs before theirs. In return, the employees lift up the company and teach it to soar.

So yes, upon reflection, George Shultz’s wisdom has proved to be true in my life. At both Pine Ridge and Hancock Lumber, trust has in fact been the coin of the realm, and a currency first forged from within.

We must learn to trust our authentic selves before we can be deemed trustworthy by others.

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”

—Maya Angelou

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

* * *

I have this picture of Sitting Bull in my home office. He, like many other Indian chiefs of his time, faced a series of impossible choices as America rushed to meet its Manifest Destiny. Putting the needs of certain groups below your own always destroys trust.

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.”

—Sitting Bull

__________

This is the twenty-sixth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To receive future posts from Kevin, simply click here. This will trigger an e-mail where you can confirm and subscribe. Thank you!



#25 | UNSUBSCRIBE

“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”

—Dalai Lama

Several months ago I was sitting with the vice chair of our board of directors, Jim Buchanan, at the Hancock Lumber home office in Casco. Across the street logging trucks were arriving, the sawmill was churning, and the smell of sawdust was in the air.

“What have you been up to lately, Jim?” I queried.

“I’ve been freeing up brain capacity,” he replied.

Curious about that statement, I pressed the question.

“Tell me more. What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“Well, you know, I’m just letting go of low-level or outdated information in order to make space for new and higher thoughts to come into my life,” Jim said.

“Brilliant,” I replied.

* * *

That thought-provoking exchange with Jim reminds me of one of my favorite work exercises. Each day, without fail, I take the time to scroll through my in-box of e-mails and UNSUBSCRIBE.

In a world in which we are all incessantly streamed an overflow of information, unsubscribing is an act of healthy defiance and assertive self-control. It’s also a manifestation of Jim’s sage advice to protect the intake valve to one’s precious emotional, spiritual, and mental capacity.

We are all encouraged to be intentional about the food, beverages, and toxins we consume. We don’t want to clog our arteries or fill our lungs with detrimental substances. The same holds true for our mental and spiritual capacity. Just because I went to Walgreens yesterday does not mean I want an e-mail from them today.

I find it therapeutic to open my e-mail in-box and watch the new candidates for deletion emerge. I wait for an instant, feeling empowered (lighter, even), before selecting a message and scrolling directly to the bottom in search of the word today’s digital marketers most try to hide: Unsubscribe. I even take time to select the reason code: “I never signed up for these e-mails.” The message originator then thanks me as their inquiry swirls off into the blackness of Internet purgatory. It’s a liberating moment. Fifteen seconds invested eliminates one small but repetitive mental distraction for life.

No, I don’t need to learn about your “5 amazing strategies for doubling sales in 90 days.”

No, I don’t need “a third pair of socks for free.”

In our digital, consumeristic, 24/7 media age, each of us is being fed an indigestible volume of information, most of which is irrelevant to our personal mission, values, and priorities. Sorting out that clutter is the closet-cleaning challenge of our time.

Self-awareness requires being intentional about what we take in so as to stay focused on our unique priorities and personal mission.

What information do you need to know, and what information is a distraction? What are your strategies for maintaining control of your finite emotional, spiritual, and mental capacity?

Rest assured, in the absence of being intentional, you will be taken for a grand ride.

* * *

Another favored move of mine to free up brain capacity is to watch and read less news. It’s been said that if you read the news once a week you would know as much as someone who does so every day.

Never has this been truer than during the era of COVID-19. Think about it. The virus formally arrived in America in March of 2020. By April you knew everything you were ever going to need to know about that infectious agent. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. When you can’t distance, wear a mask. If you feel sick, stay home. A vaccine is coming.

That’s all you needed to know about the world’s most famous pathogen.

But if you are CNN, well, you need to talk about COVID-19 every day, all day, and through the night, for over a year. And the worse the data becomes, the more likely the virus is to grab the headlines.

All of this reinforces one fundamental conviction: The world right in front of you is more manageable than the world as seen through a screen.

When I turn on the television news, within minutes it feels like it’s all over—like we can’t possibly survive another day. Yet when I open the front door and enter that day in person—so far—every day, I have survived.

Unsubscribing is a powerful act. So is watching and reading less news. Reducing your daily intake of external noise and drama allows you to gain and maintain control of your personal airspace. We are what we watch. We are what we listen to. We are what we read. We are what we unsubscribe.

“No one can bring you peace but yourself.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the twenty-fifth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.



#24 | HALFTIME

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
—Martin Luther King

This is essay #24, the halfway mark of my 2021 writing project. Two dozen essays have been shared and two dozen are yet to be created. Thank you for engaging and participating.

As a lifetime basketball player and coach, halftime in a game is an important moment to evaluate what’s transpired and set clear intentions for the work ahead. Taking stock in where we’ve been and where we’re going is always a valuable exercise.

When I begin a writing project I don’t fully know where it will take me or how it will end. While this approach has its pitfalls, it also has otherwise incalculable benefits. Writing, for me, is about surrendering to the unknown and releasing one’s instinct to seek control. It’s about learning to follow. It’s about letting the sacred light of the Universe flow through you in its most authentic and creative form. Your fingers on the keyboard become a conduit for the trajectory of the collective consciousness of humanity. Writing is about letting the divine speak through you.

But every writer still must strive to organize their thoughts in the best possible way. Even when the words are flowing freely, there’s lots of work to be done. While a river broadly defines a boater’s path, all kayakers still bring a paddle.

So, in order to maintain our course, let’s check in on the mission of this journey before proceeding to the second half.

Six months ago, in essay #1, I wrote the following:
The organizational structure of human society was long ago designed to compel us to look EXTERNALLY for direction, solutions, leadership, and control. This has been an intentional exercise and has produced an empire-centric view of our world. Employees exist to serve their company, followers, their church, and citizens, their state. These institutions have done some good through their centralization of power but they have also done some bad. Regardless, in virtually all cases, the common denominator is that the individual is advertently made small before the capital, the kingdom, and the crown. True power, we’ve been taught, lives “out there,” beyond our reach.

I’m interested in flipping that script. The goal is not to eliminate human institutions but rather to refocus them on dispersing power, not collecting it. The real power source of humanity lives dispersed and WITHIN us all. Each of us is a spark of divine light, a never-to-be-repeated gift. Institutions should exist to celebrate and accelerate self-actualization at an individual level. A great company (or country), therefore, should serve, honor, and ignite the talents of the people who work there.

The twenty-first century has the potential to mark the ascension of decentralized power, but for that to happen, the traditional model of leadership and followership must be reinvented.

That was week #1’s mission. In the twenty-two essays that followed, what if anything about that cause has evolved or changed?

Ultimately that’s up to each reader to decide. My sense is that this original intention is holding strong. In summary I’m aspiring to advance the following tenets of personal growth and organizational excellence:

The Seven Truths of Personal Growth and Organizational Excellence

  1. The sacred power and mystery of the Universe must be found first within you. “You are the truth you seek to know.” —Joseph Campbell
  2. For eons, those with the most social influence (church, state, and corporations) have attempted to convince individuals (including you) that authority and power live somewhere “out there,” beyond your grasp.
  3. But today a new age is dawning. The twenty-first century (the Aquarian Age) is all about dispersed power. It’s about awakening at the individual and local community levels. It’s about the recognition that every human voice is a sacred power source of light unto itself.
  4. In this new age change must first be created from within. You light up the world by honoring and serving yourself.
  5. This new paradigm shift transforms the traditional roles of leadership and followership. Today the followers must learn to lead and the leaders must learn to follow.
  6. Individuals don’t exist to serve human organizations. Human organizations exist to serve their individual members. When this shift occurs, organizational excellence becomes the outcome of a higher calling. That higher calling is improving the world one human at a time by helping the person in front of you feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard, exactly as they are.
  7. The old world order required and demanded conformity of thought. The new age that is upon us thrives by honoring diversity of thought. Voices are unique by design.

So far, the message has held course. But I would also add that, beneath it all, a singular new understanding has emerged. It has become clear to me that there is one universal power source that enables the high-end of humanity to manifest.

That singular power source is LOVE.

Love is the gift that every human, in every moment, regardless of race, religion, geography, or circumstance, can choose.

Love is a choice.

Love, or its absence, sets the stage for all that follows.

Jesus knew this. Gandhi knew this. Buddha knew this. Martin Luther King knew this. All the great prophets led with love.

But here’s the secret. Love cannot emanate from you until it’s held within you. This is why changing the world is an inside job. We must ignite the flame within before we can strengthen the fire of another.

Thus ends halftime.

I love you!

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.”
—Pablo Neruda

____________________

This is the twenty-fourth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.



#23 | SOFTENING OUR EDGES

“The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.”
—John Green

I have trepidations about taking on this topic but even more about letting it go, so I’m diving in.

Does civility in human dialogue and interaction matter? If it does matter, what causes it to disintegrate? How might it be elevated?

In this essay I’m focused not on policy but rather the tenor of the dialogue surrounding it.

* * *

On Thursday, March 11, 2021, President Biden signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill from the Oval Office.

Days earlier on the Senate floor, US Senator Angus King had voted for the bill.

Earlier in the debate, however, the senator had voted against an amendment to attach a minimum-wage bill to the overall relief package. Shortly thereafter, Senator King (a highly respected friend of mine) explained his decision on Instagram:

I along with 7 other members of the Democratic caucus voted no, which disappointed and angered many. I am for the minimum wage increase part of the bill but was worried that the elimination of the tipped wage credit would actually hurt the very people we were trying to help. For a full explanation of how I made this tough decision, go to King.senate.gov. I’m hopeful we can get this done the next time around.

Here are some of the responses that appeared on the senator’s social media site following his decision:

“You don’t care about anyone but yourself.”
“You f-ing suck.”
“You are out of touch.”
“Fraud”
“Traitor”
“F U dude”
“You are an embarrassment—resign.”
“Asshole”
“Burn in hell, you heathen.”

* * *

I’m not going to judge these comments but rather look at my own past. I’ve used some of those words before and even directed them at others. When and why did I use this language, and how did it go for me when I took that path? I mean, really, at the core of my being, how did it go?

I spoke that way to another when . . .

I felt cornered or scared.
I felt extreme anger or frustration.
I felt disrespected and consistently unheard.
Something someone else did (or didn’t do) set me off.
I got overrun by my ego.
My basic fight-or-flight (or freeze) response took over.

How did it go?
I don’t remember it ever changing anything for the better.
I don’t remember ever feeling proud of my actions in hindsight.
No further listening or progress was typically possible, as trust had been destroyed.

* * *

There are root causes of hostile and demeaning dialogue. To create a change in our social discourse, we must work at that ground level. The seeds of incivility live in the trenches of not feeling trusted, respected, included, valued, safe, and heard.

The first rule of change creation is that it starts with me. It’s an inside job. I must become something different.

For example, although Senator King himself is a poised and highly respectful statesman, the totality of the political dialogue in Washington manifests as hostile and demeaning toward those with differing views. If anger seems more prevalent at our nation’s capital these days, capitol leadership should reexamine what they are collectively modeling. Tone is heavily influenced by those at the top, and I have seen this in my own work as a CEO.

Early in my career I used the power of my voice and title to influence outcomes. In hindsight, my ideas weren’t always winning on their merits but rather on their booming tone from the pulpit I occupied. The result was that people eventually went quiet, or they escalated their own verbiage in response. Either way, the outcome was poor decision-making, a lack of deep trust, and no authentic buy-in. My loud voice didn’t take me very far.

But then in 2010, prophetically, I acquired a rare neurological voice disorder and my speaking was frequently reduced to a whisper. This was actually a gift in disguise.

I’ve since gotten a good piece of my voice back, but I’ve made a personal commitment not to use it the way I once did. Instead, I have made it a priority to take incivility out of our company by going after the root causes, of which I was one. It is through this decade-long effort that I know with certainty that collaborative and candid idea sharing can carry the day, and win in ways that aggression can’t.

I have not raised my voice at work in many, many years. Nor have I seen anyone else do so. I’m not saying it never happens, but it’s exceptionally rare. What has allowed this culture of calm voices to blossom within our company?

It was simple. First, we prioritized the creation of safe forums for everyone to be regularly heard. In the process we changed the purpose of listening. Listening was to be for understanding, not judgment. We let go of the idea that a thought authentically shared by another needs to be labeled as right or wrong. We stopped making assumptions about the motives of others. We started seeking and applauding diversity of view points.

“Thank you for sharing” has become a common response.

When you stop trying to get everyone to agree, think alike, or convert to a “company line,” dialogue becomes stress-free. Every perspective can be honored without diminishing your own. Every human voice is unique by design. Not everyone sees what you see—and that’s a blessing, not a curse.

Civility, like many other aspects of life, is ultimately a product of the old adage, If it is to be, it starts with me.

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

“Transcending the urge to judge, fix, solve, or transform others is what actually creates the conditions for communities or companies to progress. When people feel heard, not judged, they relax. When people relax, they think. When people think, they grow.”
—Kevin Hancock,
THE SEVENTH POWER:
One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership

____________________
This is the twenty-third in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.



#22 | THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

“THE SHOW MUST GO ON—the saying and principle originated in the nineteenth century with circuses. If an animal got loose or a performer was injured, the ringmaster and the band tried to keep things going so that the crowd would not panic.” —James Rogers

In 1938 the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was, in fact, “the Greatest Show on Earth.”

Their annual tour opened in the spring of that year with a twenty-three-day sojurn at Madison Square Garden. The circus was so popular that it performed twice daily in New York (forty-six shows in all) before caravanning north, to Boston. This was America’s most famous traveling show, and it would take only one day off before ending the season in Mobile, Alabama, six months later.

I’ve always loved the circus. For Christmas one year our daughter Sydney gave me a framed copy of an original poster from that 1938 tour stop in Manhattan. The festive scene features a giant elephant and two clowns in the foreground with the big top and its colorful flags as the backdrop. Few who attended that year would have guessed that the elephant, the iconic star of the three rings, would one day play a leading role in the circus’s demise.

* * *

In 2016, the Ringling pachyderms marched off stage for the final time in response to public concerns about their treatment as circus show animals. This was a little recognized but pivotal moment in the dawning of the age of dispersed power. The physical and emotional well-being of a small herd of elephants was taking precedence over the economic needs of an entire industry. For those paying attention, it was a sign of the times indeed.

One year later, on Sunday, May 5, 2017, my wife Alison and I traveled from Maine to Providence, Rhode Island, to watch the last-ever performance of the Ringling Bros. Circus extravaganza.

“The elephant that once made the circus helped to end the circus,” I said to Alison that night from our tight row of plastic seats inside the dilapidated Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

We had just watched the last act of the famed Ringling Bros. tigers. Their trainer, Taba Maluenda, and his felines received a five-minute standing ovation. Former Ringling Bros. employees from around the world were on hand to bear witness. The tigers themselves seemed to know it was over.

“Sunday night the lights went out on the Greatest Show on Earth,” reported the Providence Journal the following day. For me, it was the night the tiger trainer cried and one of the most historic and symbolic moments of the twenty-first century.

* * *

What’s the lesson here? It wasn’t the elephants that changed; rather, humanity’s sense of right and wrong evolved. This brings forth an important point: An idea that is helpful in one era can actually be detrimental, or even fatal, in the next.

The well-being of a small group of elephants had become more important to society than the circus empire as a whole.

Power was being dispersed.

The individual (in this case, elephants) was coming first.

Putting individuals second and organizations first may well have helped empires grow for centuries. But today, self-centered governance is a leading cause of human disengagement and institutional ineffectiveness, and the clock is ticking on this hierarchical dance of old.

The playbook of leadership and followership is turning itself inside out. The old model of leadership was about pulling power to the center and making the influence of the capital or headquarters bigger. The new model that is manifesting before our eyes is about pushing that same power back out and learning to see the individual human spirit as the first priority and power source of society.

* * *

On the way out of the arena after that final circus show, I purchased two stuffed Ringling Bros. elephants. For me they were historic pieces of Americana, now part of the past. They were also, in a way, mascots for the future of organizational and human advancement. Like the lesson itself, they were expensive yet priceless.

(This essay is an excerpt from Kevin’s second book, THE SEVENTH POWER: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership.)

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

“They say that somewhere in Africa the elephants have a secret grave where they go to lie down, unburden their wrinkled gray bodies, and soar away, light spirits at the end.”
—Robert McCammon

_______________

This is the twenty-second in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.



Citrix Northeast Conference Keynote 2021

In this video, Kevin Hancock is the keynote speaker at the Citrix Northeast Conference. Kevin speaks the shared leadership model, dispersed power, and respecting all voices. Kevin’s ideas on these topics have an immeasurable change on workplace happiness, employee engagement, and the work/life balance.

“Work should enhance life – otherwise, what’s the point?” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to watch the full keynote presentation.




#21 | HOLD THAT DOOR

“Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration.”
—Margaret Chase Smith

It can feel overwhelming to take on the subject of advancing social harmony in a delicate and divided world.

So I went looking for a simple place to start . . .

* * *

The Circle K convenience store sits at the intersection of Route 26 and the North Raymond Road in Gray, Maine. The bustling facility straddles the most popular commuter routes north of Portland. On the weekends this same road can be just as crowded while serving as a prime thoroughfare to the mountains in winter, the lakes in summer, and the speedway on race nights. That little store is churning most of the time.

I frequent the Circle K, as it’s the first gas station between my house and the city of Portland. It’s a stop I make several times a week, and it’s here, a few years back, that a simple personal experiment was born.

At the Circle K I always hold the door for the next person to arrive or depart.

While holding a door for someone is meaningful, the gesture in and of itself is not enough to maximize its potential. Eye contact and a head nod tip the split-second exchange into an act of courtesy and shared humanity.

I’ve now held that glass-and-metal door dozens and dozens of times, and the outcome is virtually always the same.

“Thank you,” says the stranger coming my way, already standing a bit taller by virtue of being acknowledged and respected.

“Have a good day,” I reply.

“Same,” says the stranger at the door.

I’ve trained myself to pay close attention to the otherwise imperceptible changes that often follow. The mood, energy, stride, and demeanor of the person frequently shifts in that moment. A self-occupied, detached, or hurried edge is broken and replaced by a spark of connectivity. If you weren’t watching with care it would be easy to miss, but it’s there. Humanity softened.

Awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

* * *

I’ve made over twenty trips from Maine to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in the past ten years. The people of that community are amazing. It’s a place of great cultural, historic, and social significance where much can be learned. It’s also statistically the poorest place in America, where the hard edge of our colonialism still leaves tracks.

People often ask me what I do when I go there. For years I would struggle to provide an adequate answer because my presence always felt so small. Eventually I just started telling the truth (always a good move in the end).

“I don’t really do anything there,” I now say. “I just travel around the reservation and hang out with the people I know there.”

It took a while for me to realize that this is enough. Connectivity and intentional presence are meaningful in and of themselves. I see you. I know you’re here. I think you’re important. I value your existence. I’m interested in you.

This is my friend Catherine Grey Day. I see her every time I go to Pine Ridge. When we are together I just sit and listen to her amazing thoughts, stories, triumphs, and challenges. That’s it. That’s all I do.

Pine Ridge was originally constructed as a remote and marginalized community in the last decades of the nineteenth century. The founding purpose was to isolate the Oglala Sioux and other tribes from white society until they could be “remade” and reintroduced. The people of Pine Ridge today have transcended those genocidal origins and made the reservation their own, but that’s how it all started.

Acknowledging the presence and sacredness of another is a small gesture that, repeated consistently, can change the world. Courtesy is one of those behaviors that is easy to adopt and, unfortunately, easy to forgo. Courtesy is one conscious choice of the self-awareness.

What if everyone on earth felt trusted, respected, valued, and heard? What might change?

I think everything might change. Enabling such a transformation is within our collective reach. Seven billion humans practicing simple acts of kindness would make for a good start.

So the next time you’re pulling in or out of a convenience store, yield to the driver in front of you, pause for the passersby, and above all else when you enter the building, hold that door.

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Nestled between our differences lies our future.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
—Dalai Lama

___________

This is the twenty-first in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin Hancock to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021, in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk.



The Breakfast Club Guest: Kevin Hancock

In this radio podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with The Breakfast Club host Mark about his career, his newest book, 48 Whispers, and his mission to empower and strengthen the voices of those around him. During Kevin’s life journey, he has adapted Hancock Lumber to create balance for the employees and ensure that their voices are heard in the company. Kevin also shares how he became involved with the Lakota at Pine Ridge and how this led to his idea of shared leadership.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • You’ve always got to live in the present and really perform in the present moment. And certainly our company has become very focused on the employee experience, the people who work at the company, making sure that work is a meaningful for them. So that’s really kind of what brought us down that best places to work path. (01:13-01:39)
  • This book is really about coming into your own voice. It’s a photojournalism book that takes a bunch of my favorite pictures from over a decade of traveling out to the reservation in South Dakota. And then pairs that with 48 short meditations. And if I had to summarize what all those meditations have in common, it’s really about coming into your own voice, self-awareness, really turning inward to find your strength, your purpose, your path. Where we’re all living in a world where there’s so much external noise, 24/7, internet wired world, that what can get lost in that I think is our sense of self. And this book is really about the idea that you’ve got to build your future from within. You’ve got to really look within yourself, connect with the essence of who you are, and then build an external life that’s true to that. (12:58-14:05)
  • Simply put, the people who work in a company know how to make it better. They know what holds it back. And all leaders really have to do is to create a safe environment where the right questions get asked, and the people that work there feel good about just actually saying what they honestly think and know. (19:59-20:21)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




#20 | CHINA’S HALL PASS

“A global citizen is someone who identifies first and foremost not as a member of a state, tribe or nation, but instead as a member of the human race.”

—Hugh Evans

On October 4, 2017, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

“Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

In the era of America’s awakening with regard to racial, ethnic, sexual, and religious equality, these two short sentences seem highly consistent with our modern national values.

That’s why (as a lifetime basketball player, coach, and fan) I was initially puzzled to see the National Basketball Association (NBA) and many of its most famous players distance themselves from freedom for Hong Kong and turn on Morey. This confused me, because the NBA, of all American professional sports leagues, had (to its credit) become an early leader in supporting their players and coaches in using their voices for social change creation with respect to issues like police violence and racial profiling. Yet here we watched Chinese police gassing, beating, and arresting protesters in Hong Kong for wanting nothing more than to maintain their traditional freedoms, and the NBA walked directly away from them.

Why would the NBA and many players suddenly abandon the side of freedom?

I was confused.

Then it became clear.

This was all about money.

It’s good for business in America to champion freedom and equal rights for all. But that’s not how it works in China. In communist China, where the “Party” controls everything it wants to control, it’s very bad for business to take a stand against the government.

China is the NBA’s biggest foreign market, worth billions of dollars annually to the League, its most famous players, and brands like Nike.

After Morey’s tweet the Chinese Basketball Association suspended its relationship with the Houston Rockets and immediately stopped streaming Rockets games. The Chinese consulate in Houston issued a statement saying it was “deeply shocked” by the “erroneous comments.”

Shortly thereafter the NBA issued its own statement in Mandarin:

“We are extremely disappointed in the inappropriate views of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey. He undoubtedly has deeply hurt the feelings of Chinese basketball fans.”

At the time of Morey’s tweet, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers were actually in China on a two-game exhibition tour. James, a staunch advocate of professional athletes using their platform to express political opinions and drive social change, uncharacteristically made the following statement in response:

“I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand. . . . We all see what that [the tweet] did for our league.”

* * *

So what’s going on here?

Well, let’s take a simple look at the economic fact trail regarding the NBA, LeBron James, Nike, and China.

James has a lifetime contract with Nike valued at over $1 billion.

Nike earned over $6 billion in revenue from China in the year 2019 alone.

LeBron James’s sneakers and clothing lines are among Nike’s most profitable.

After Morey’s tweet Nike stopped offering Houston Rockets gear in its Chinese stores.

The Chinese Communist Party exerts any level of control it chooses to exert over television content, international sporting agreements, and general access to Chinese markets.

The Chinese Communist Party is determined to gain tight political and social control over the people of Hong Kong.

The NBA, James, and Nike side with the Chinese Communist Party.

Why?

Money.

* * *

One year later, in the fall of 2018, Nike released a series of commercials featuring Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who began kneeling during the National Anthem and soon found himself out of a job.

To be clear, I am 100 percent supportive of the Kaepernick campaign. What I am not supportive of is the inconsistency of major economic brands (both individuals and corporations) championing social protest in America where it’s good for business while simultaneously standing silent on those same rights and ideals in places like China, where it’s bad for business.

Here’s what Nike founder Phil Knight had to say about the Kaepernick campaign:

“You can’t be afraid of offending people. You can’t try and go down the middle of the road. You have to take a stand on something, which is ultimately I think why the Kaepernick ad worked.”

* * *

Here’s my call out to the Fortune 500, corporate America, and professional star athletes: Let’s stand for freedom everywhere—not just where it’s economically beneficial for you and your brand.

And here’s my call to America consumers: Let’s insist that the stars and corporate brands that we support with our time and money become GLOBAL citizens championing freedom for everyone, everywhere.

Either you’re in on freedom everywhere or you’re in on freedom nowhere.

I love the Kaepernick campaign of awareness. I just want to see the Nike Hong Kong freedom fighters’ campaign right beside it.

* * *

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

—Martin Luther King, from a Birmingham jail, April 16, 1963

Note: There is an abundance of reporting available on the NBA and Hong Kong. Here are a few of the sources I relied on for this essay:

  • National Public Radio / All Things Considered / October 7, 2019 / “Houston Rockets Face Backlash after Manager Tweets Support for Hong Kong Protesters.”
  • Washington Post / October 15, 2019 / “LeBron James Draws Scrutiny for Comments Critical of Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong Tweet by Ben Golliver.”
  • New York Times / March 23, 2021 / “Hong Kong Protests, One Year Later,” by Austin Ramzy and Mike Ives.
  • Vox / October 7, 2019 / “The Raging Controversy over the NBA, China, and the Hong Kong Protests, Explained,” by Matthew Yglesias.

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the twentieth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



Success Made to Last

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with host Rick Tocquigny about shared leadership. Kevin describes how losing the full use of his speaking voice led him to Pine Ridge, where he discovered an entire community that did not feel heard. The two events convinced Kevin that each human is here on earth in a personal quest to find and share their own unique and never to be repeated voice. Unfortunately, across time leaders have done more to restrict the voices of others than to liberate them. Kevin takes these understandings and develops and deploys a new leadership model designed to push power out – away from the corporate center – and give everyone in the organization a leading voice. The result is a high performing corporate model in which business metrics soar as an outcome of a higher calling.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.




#19 | INDIGENOUS WISDOM

“It is hard to follow one great vision in this world of darkness and of many changing shadows. Among those shadows men get lost.”

—Black Elk

I have dedicated the essays that I write this year to Black Elk, but I have not yet told you why.

The answer is that I see deep truth in indigenous wisdom and Black Elk is one of my favorite indigenous teachers.

Born in 1863, Black Elk lived until 1950.  As a small child he had never seen a white person yet his entire community’s fate would soon be transformed by them.  Black Elk, a cousin to Crazy Horse, was present at the Battle of Little Big Horn as well as the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee.  He was born nomadic and free, following the buffalo and moving with the seasons.  He would die in a small square cabin at the apex of the reservation era. . I have visited that cabin in the tall summer grass on numerous occasions with Black Elk Speaks in hand, marveling at the eternal relevance of his messages.

At the foundation of Black Elk’s stories and Lakota spirituality is the concept of MITAKUYE OYASIN, which translated means “all things are one thing” or “we are all related”.  The Lakota understand, through their intimate connection to the natural world, that all that exists is connected by an invisible web of threads.

For me, Black Elk is a prophet when it comes to seeing the sacred that dwells within us all.  Late in his life Black Elk sat with his friend John Neihardt and told the stories of his people which Neihardt recorded and then wrote down.

Here is a cursory look at Black Elk’s life, learnings,
and spirituality in his own words.

“I am a Lakota of the Oglala band. My father’s name was Black Elk, and his father before him bore the name, and the father of his father, so that I am the fourth to bear it.”

We all come from a tribe. The time and place of our birth pulls on us all. We must learn to honor that heritage yet also see our shared humanity.

* * *

“I had never seen a Wasichu [white person] then [as a child], and did not know what one looked like; but everyone was saying that the Wasichus were coming and that they were going to take our country and rub us all out [kill us].”

Those with the most power often overreach. Ego emboldens us to go too far and take too much.

* * *

“Now and then the voices would come back when I was out alone, like someone calling me, but what they wanted me to do I did not know.”

This is Black Elk’s authentic voice awakening and interacting with the Great Spirit. Such awakenings always come from within.

* * *

“Your Grandfathers all over the world are having a council, and they have called you here to teach you.”

Thus began Black Elk’s great vision through which he saw his path as peacemaker and healer.

* * *

“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.”

This is the culmination of his vision, in which seeing “in a sacred manner” allowed him to pierce the veil of tribalism and recognize our shared humanity.

* * *

“Black Elk said the mountain he stood upon in his vision was Harney Peak in the Black Hills. ‘But anywhere is the center of the world,’ he added.”

—John Neihardt

Anywhere is the center of the world. This one sentence capsulizes the sacredness of the human spirit. Wherever you are at this moment is the center.

You are the center.

* * *

“Nothing can live well except in a manner that is suited to the ways the sacred Power of the World lives and moves.”

True power comes from living in alignment with the nature’s vibration and flow.

* * *

In 2014 I carried a small piece of wood siding that had fallen to the ground beside Black Elk’s cabin and placed it in a tree on the same peak he had flown to in his sacred vision. Before placing it there I tore it in half. The outside of the wood was tired, gray, and worn, but the inside was bright, fresh, and representative of new life. As I nestled one half deep in the balsam tree filled with colorful Lakota flags, I said the following prayer:

“This piece of wood from your home is now broken open and fresh again with new life. This represents a new beginning for all the people of the sacred hoop of the world.”

While seeing in a sacred manner, Black Elk saw all the people of the world as one tribe.

We all possess the same capacity to see what Black Elk saw. The Lakota call this ability the Seventh Power, and it dwells within us all…

* * *

“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one.”

―Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

This is the tree where I placed half of the old piece of wood siding and said a prayer in Black Elk’s honor. It’s also the place Black Elk was flown to as a boy during his sacred vision in which he saw the single hoop of the world and all its people living within that hoop as one family.
To see, hear, and feel a bit more about my visits to Pine Ridge, the northern plains, and the ancestral homelands of Crazy Horse, click here to watch this short video (6 minutes).

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the nineteenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#18 | SAWING THROUGH COVID

“For it is dangerous to attach one’s self to the crowd in front, and so long as each one of us is more willing to trust another than to judge for himself, we never show any judgement in the matter of living, but always a blind trust, and a mistake that has been passed on from hand to hand finally involves us and works our destruction.”

—Seneca

* * *

On March 12, 2020, a US Navy reservist, returning from duty in Italy, became the first COVID-19 case in Maine. Three days later the governor declared a civil state of emergency. Businesses closed. Society froze.

Meanwhile, our company, Hancock Lumber, had hundreds of employees deployed across fourteen locations all asking the same question.

What does this mean for us?

* * *

It turns out that the people of Hancock Lumber would have a far different COVID-19 work experience than most Americans.

As a deemed “essential” industry, we never closed, and, due to the nature of our enterprise, we never worked remotely.

“We still haven’t figured out how to make lumber from our couch in sweatpants,” I frequently told inquirers in the months that followed.

Ours is an industry where you have to be there in person, or else, you’re closed—and you can’t take turns showing up. A sawmill backs up quickly if any single work station goes idle. The Hancock Lumber team of humans faced a pretty simple choice: We all work, or none of us works.

In overwhelming numbers, our people chose to keep going. At the core of this decision was an unspoken understanding that blue-collar employees across America intuitively recognize: My company needs to run in order for me to get paid. I need to show up not just for myself, but for my fellow workers and their families. There was no thought in that moment that anyone other than us was coming to the rescue.

So what was that like, working—every day, on location, next to each other—during COVID?

Well, it wasn’t simple, but it also wasn’t complicated. At that time there was no “guidance” from state or federal capitals, nor did we look for any. No one knew our business like we did. As is customary in our leadership model of dispersed power, we would keep the rules to a minimum. Trust in the judgment of individual humans would be our power source.

Working through COVID demands one great commitment: Everyone must lead. Viruses travel one human at a time.

So we went to work with four essential guideposts: Spread out; keep it clean; stay home if you’re sick, anxious, or caring for another; and trust everyone to implement these values in their respective corners of our company. We gave everyone extra sick days. Additionally we gave everyone quarantine days, should they be needed.

Over the next twelve months, we would collectively:

  • make 18,000 construction site deliveries
  • produce 90,000,000 board feet of lumber
  • design, build, and deliver 76,000 trusses
  • make over 20 miles of wall panels
  • execute 250,000 in-store customer experiences

Together we logged (no pun intended) 1,200,000 on-site work hours from March 2020 through February 2021.

And what were the COVID-19 results?

Our employees—565 people, sharing responsibility collaboratively at Hancock Lumber—acquired 30 known cases of the virus. Of those 30 cases, 29 were confirmed as “contracted at home” (meaning, in their personal life, away from work). A single case of COVID was confirmed as “contracted at work.” Our group was 29 times more likely to acquire COVID at home than at work.

* * *

Ultimately our state government would issue detailed rules for work during COVID. While well-intended, the problem with this approach is always the same. Out goes innovation, accountability, and continuous improvement made possible by the collective creativity that only surfaces when everyone leads.

I have a friend who runs a small hair salon. One day (with a sense of impending dread) I read the six pages of COVID regulations she had been issued. The mandatory guidance covered everything from appointment scheduling, store signage, and training requirements to capes, smocks, neck strips, soap use, and disinfectant spray—from gloves, drapes, linens, eye coverings, and laundry to tools, porous surfaces, Barbicide, and food stations. It also covered magazines, service menus, cash registers, cloth chairs, leather chairs, trash bins, credit cards, telephones, and parking lots. All of this represented a missed opportunity to empower and share leadership.

When crisis strikes, trust becomes more important, not less. Empowerment becomes more essential, not less reliable.

In dire times trust is paramount, and it only manifests through the willingness of established leaders to show restraint—not to write the entire script on what to do and how to do it.

* * *

One day during the early phase of the pandemic, a team leader at our Casco mill shared a video of an iconic moment of disaster defiance from the movie Forrest Gump.

In this scene Lieutenant Dan climbs atop the highest mast of their shrimp boat to stand before the hurricane’s wrath.

“You call this a storm?” Lieutenant Dan proclaims as the vessel is pounded by wind and rain. “I’m right here. Come and get me! You’ll never sink this boat.”

COVID decimated certain industries; we were simply fortunate enough not to be among them. But beyond luck, what got us through? It was trust. Trust that shared leadership held more potential in a storm than a set of rules from above.

 

“He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.”

—Lao Tzu

* * *

(Note: Here is a link to the scene where Lieutenant Dan and Forrest, alone and without hierarchical supervision, defy and defeat the storm. That’s the Seventh Power, and it lives within us all.)

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the eighteenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




Happy Hour Podcast: Guest Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin speaks to host Joel Fleischman about Kevin’s story of finding the power of shared leadership. Kevin explains how he struggled with losing his voice and the journey he started to gain inner acceptance and balance, as well as ways he could continue to lead his family’s company. He also speaks with Joel about how ego plays an essential role in modern leadership, delving further to explain why it is important to shed your ego in the leadership role.

Click here to watch the full podcast.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • I’ve really become very focused on what I can control. What I can control. And I’ve really tried to not exert my energy on all those things I cannot control. And when I found that, when I oriented myself that way, my life got a lot easier. (12:04-12:32)
  • They didn’t actually need direction from me, 99% of the time to begin with. They knew what to do. What they really needed was the courage and confidence and the safety and culture to trust their own voice. (16:21-16:39)
  • But this book is about self-inquiry. It’s about heightened self-awareness. It’s about coming into your own voice, and really turning inward to find your personal power. (36:28-36:46)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




#17 | AMERICA ALWAYS GETS WHAT IT PAYS FOR

“The devil doesn’t come in a red cape and pointy horns.
He comes as everything you ever wished for.”

—Tucker Max

On Thursday, March 11, 2020, I left the Wild Dunes Island Resort and headed for the Charleston International Airport. I had just given a talk to the New South Construction Supply management team about the benefits of leadership strategies that disperse power and strengthen the voices of others. A short time later I found myself walking through an all but deserted terminal as CNN reported on the arrival of COVID-19.

Who would have guessed in that moment that demand for lumber and building materials across North America would soon be surging, or that shelves in grocery stores would sit empty for lack of supply, or that a global boom in manufacturing was about to ensue?

By the summer of 2020 retailers, distributors, and manufacturers were racing to keep pace with demand for consumer goods. Freight deliveries via truck, train, and ship fell dramatically behind. Inventories plummeted, lead times expanded, and prices increased. This all happened during state-imposed stay-at-home orders of unprecedented duration and magnitude.

Looking back on it all with more than a year’s perspective, it was quite predictable. America, once again, had gotten what it paid for.

* * *

In the decades that followed World War II, the Toyota Motor Corporation would become one of the first businesses to implement and advance the concepts of Lean manufacturing. The essence of this system was the elimination of “waste.” Waste was defined as anything more than the exact amount of equipment, employee labor, parts, and inventory needed to maintain consistent production flow pulled by demand. Companies that learned to operate this way saved cash, increased their return on asset performance, and grew profits. Investors rewarded them. Today virtually all businesses are a by-product in varying degrees of that Toyota-born economic system.

The quest for peak efficiency then rippled through the nonprofit sector, where just enough teachers, school buses, and nurses also carried the day.

This system of Lean thinking has numerous benefits and one big problem: It can’t adjust to a dramatic, unforeseen surge in demand. Why? Because for decades companies around the globe have been rewarded by both investors and consumers for eliminating their excess capacity.

And which country has led this charge with the most powerful investor community and most sought-after consumer market?

Yes, that’s right—America.

For example, the less inventory Walmart carries, the lower their cost of doing business becomes. The lower their cost of doing business becomes, the lower their selling prices can be. The lower their selling prices, the more customers they attract. The more customers they attract, the more profitable they get. The more profitable they get, the more investors are willing to pay for their stock. The wheel of “Lean” just keeps on churning.

* * *

But here’s the secret of the story that’s easily missed. It was consumers—not corporations—that enabled this system.

Corporations are rewarded for listening and responding to public demand and penalized for ignoring it. Successful companies only ever mirror their society as a whole. Walmart, by way of just one example, gave America exactly what it wanted.

According to Businessinsider.com, the average Chinese worker made $9,470 per year in 2019 in adjusted US dollars. That compared to $62,850 in the United States. Do you need to know anything more than that as to why so many products (or components of products) that you choose to buy come from China?

Chinese suppliers make 70 to 80 percent of the products Walmart sells. That means the rest of the world (including America) has the opportunity to provide 20 to 30 percent of what Walmart sells.

In 2011 I toured a series of wood products manufacturers in China. This company makes picture frames primarily for American and European markets. In this particular factory the workers were all women (the managers, all men). There was no heat in this building, no lights on the ceiling, no work stations, and no power tools. You get one thing from this plant: low-cost picture frames. Americans create this by rewarding it economically with order, after order, after order.

Again, here’s the point: Walmart didn’t do that. You did. I did. We did.

As a country we love berating corporations for giving us what we demand.

The United States is the largest consumer market in the world, and corporations globally have set themselves up to give that market exactly what it wants.

America always gets what it pays for.

What does all of this have to do with heightened self-awareness?

Everything.

As a country, we need to strive for more economic self-awareness as demonstrated by what we do and do not buy.

Think about the irony of rightfully championing a living wage in America while simultaneously demanding that Walmart dedicate 70 to 80 percent of its shelf space to products made on Third World wages.

So, the next time there’s no toilet paper, remember that you and I are the reason why.

“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”

—Anna Lappe

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the seventeenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




#16 | THE FUTURE TRAVELS THROUGH THE PAST

“No future without forgiveness.”

—Bishop Desmond Tutu

It’s not just those in positions of leadership or privilege who must become more self-aware.

In the last two essays I have discussed how it’s important for me as a white, Christian, male CEO to reconcile my inherent privilege in Western society. This is done not to engender feelings of shame or remorse. No one is responsible for the date, time, and place of their birth. Everyone must love all facets of themselves in order to show up full of love for others.

Heightened awareness is the only goal. Awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

Ultimately it’s incumbent upon all humans to strive for expanded self-awareness. For example, individuals and communities that have been historically marginalized, oppressed, and exploited must also find and sustain the will to heighten their self-awareness. We all must revisit our stories in order to transcend them.

I have a dear friend from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by the name of Catherine Grey Day. She is a Dakota elder who has experienced firsthand the callousness that Native Americans and tribal communities have often faced. Catherine eloquently summed up the importance of self-reflecting upon her racial inequity experiences as we sat at the kitchen table one evening at the Singing Horse Trading Post:

“It’s just about being worn down, generation after generation. The cavalry, the missionaries, the government, the boarding schools—you wake up one day and it has all been internalized. When you have been oppressed over generations and generations, the oppression finally takes hold within you. And once it takes hold, it is perpetuated from within. We act out the oppression on ourselves. That is how deeply it has been ingrained.”

I had never contemplated “internalized oppression” until Catherine defined it for me so authentically that night. To truly understand the nature of her soliloquy requires some context. There was no malice in Catherine’s statement. There was no hate, no shame, no guilt—no quest for revenge. She was perfectly calm. All of her energy was centered and grounded within herself. Catherine was demonstrating awareness of her past experiences not to reinforce that she was bound by them, but rather to liberate herself and transcend them at a soul’s level, within her very spirit.

*          *          *

There is another potentially unexpected component of the Lakota story that requires heightened self-awareness, as it threatens the historic narrative that most Sioux tribal communities prefer to remember. As Americans historically and intuitively understand, the tribes of the northern plains were systematically extracted from their native grasslands and sequestered on unforgiving and barren reservations in the last decades of the nineteenth century. These proud indigenous communities were ultimately overrun by America’s “Manifest Destiny”—specifically, the quest for gold.

Yet the Sioux themselves had long been conquerors, crossing the Missouri River with guns and horses to explore and expand their own empire on the plains, generations before the reservation era began.

Consider the following excerpts from the book Lakota America by Pekka Hamalainen:

“In the course of the 1830s and 1840s Lakota fought and defeated scores of people and absorbed uncounted numbers of captives.”

“Lakotas fused trading, raiding, coercion, and diplomacy into a protean economy of violence that allowed them to simultaneously exploit and embrace others. Sustained expansion was turning them into an imperial power that commanded extensive hinterlands.  Numerous Indigenous groups found their fates intractably linked to the Lakotas, some of them becoming victims or vassals, others blending into the Lakota fabric as allies.”

You see, the Lakota, too, were warriors and conquerors. They too had been military and political strategists who expanded their empire, built trade alliances, and controlled the economic resources of a vast territory. They also defeated, exploited, and assimilated weaker tribes.

The ultimate unsettling irony is that the Sioux lost the Black Hills the same way they had acquired them.

None of this excuses America’s transgressions. Genocide occurred and America justified it through stories backed by force. It’s a horrible tale that has yet to be reconciled. Nonetheless, modern Lakota communities still need to strive for heightened self-awareness. The capacity for conquering does not just live externally in others. It lives within us all.

Human communities carefully select their narratives. Our shining moments and best features are aggrandized while other less-noble chapters of our full story are delicately placed to the side. We see this in the American story where indigenous genocide, black slavery, and racial injustice have been, until recently, historically downplayed. But you can also find this propensity to carefully cultivate one’s narratives in places like the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

All of this being said, my heart is with Pine Ridge and filled with love for the amazing people who live there.

The need to critically self-reflect and achieve heightened self-awareness resides within us all, along with the courage required to make it happen. The process of looking inward is universally essential, regardless of circumstance.

We all become the stories we tell.

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one: They promised to take our land, and they took it.”

—Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Sioux

This is a picture of my dear friend Catherine Grey Day sitting on the porch at the Singing Horse Trading Post while looking at the manuscript that would become my second book (The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey in the Business of Shared Leadership). Below is an excerpt from a statement she shared with me that day:

“Misun [little brother], it was you who opened your ears and heard Wakan Tanka [The Great Spirit] speaking to you through other voices—sending you to a beautiful place and beautiful people [Pine Ridge]. Although we have suffered injustices, we find ways to live and survive. Wakan Tanka sends powerful spirit helpers. Keep listening to positive voices. We also learn from the negative. It is up to us to find the balance. God is good! I love you bunches, Misun! It was Wakan Tanka who placed you in my path.”

—Catherine Grey Day

* * *

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the sixteenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!

 




#15 | WHITE SPACE

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.”

—Franklin Thomas

Everyone I was looking at was white.

Being from a small town in Western Maine, this wasn’t new to me. But this gathering was different. Everyone here had been carefully selected in part for their varied leadership roles across our state and, in part, because they are white.

It was the opening session of the Maine Community Foundation’s 2021 Leadership Learning Exchange for Racial Equity. Before me sat twenty-four people sorted neatly into squares, compliments of the remote-conferencing capabilities of Zoom.

“This program has four goals,” one of the co-facilitators said in a calm and loving voice. “Let’s take a look at each of them:

  1. To reflect on whiteness and our identity as white people.
  2. To deepen our understanding of racism and its dynamics.
  3. To increase our capacity as leaders to advance racial equity.
  4. To increase white resiliency to engage the topic of race.”

The co-facilitator then paused with intentionality.

At age fifty-four, this was the first time I truly comprehended that being white was a race.

Although I’d frequently thought about race in America those thoughts were traditionally externally applied with good wishes for people of a darker color.

But white? White was, well, just white.

Being asked to reflect on my whiteness was momentarily numbing, but soon thereafter, I found it to be liberating. Within an hour of confronting my racial identity I suddenly felt empowered. I was no longer a spectator in someone else’s story. I was—and in fact, always had been—a direct participant.  I could help strengthen racial equity in America by first confronting my own whiteness.

Over the course of the next two months our group would meet five times.  During each class we would break out into discussion groups where two to five people would talk about how being white affords them privilege in America.

White Americans talking to other white Americans about the white race’s defining role in American racism. This was new for me, and transformational.

Suddenly, I could see.

It was, after all, white Americans who had created the racially unequal systems that have historically defined our country.

Blacks did not create American slavery; white people did.

Blacks did not create the Jim Crow South; white people did.

Blacks did not create segregation; white people did.

Native Americans did not create Indian reservations; white people did.

While I found this sobering and saddening, I also found it unexpectedly energizing. If whites held the power to create these racial systems filled with oppression, terror, prejudice, and negative bias, then white people also held the power to play a leading role in dismantling it all.

With each topic we explored it became clear that racial inequality is not just a history lesson; it’s alive today and at work in both seen and unseen ways.

And what did I take with me from my participation in this Leadership Learning Exchange for Racial Equity?

First, I took sadness.

I felt remorse.

Second, I took understanding.  Racism was not a person but rather an action or, at time, an inaction.  Racism was not always about intent.  What mattered was outcomes.

Next, I saw the conundrum of our democratic ideals buckling under the weight of our actions. Words and deeds are not the same.

Yet, in the end, I took resilience.  I could contribute to making the future different from the past. Despite its transgressions, America in 2021 felt like the best place on Earth to recalibrate.  America is a place where we can call ourselves out. America is a place where we can regroup and be better. And I could participate.

Racial inequality in America began as a white construct, and I am white. If whites could play a starring role in the original construction and perpetuation of racial inequality, they could correspondingly lead the way in reversing it.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man (or woman) stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”

—Robert Kennedy

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the fifteenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



Heart-Centered Sales Leader

Heart Centered Sales Leader In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to host Connie Whitman about his book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. In his book, Kevin shares the philosophy, values and strategies Hancock Lumber Company has embraced on its journey toward becoming an employee-centric company. They also discuss the dangers of being a leader who micromanages a team and the effects this can have on self-worth, work ethic, and stress levels.

Click here to listen to the podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • My whole approach is that leaders need to make themselves smaller so that others around them can become bigger. (11:14-11:22)
  • Every employee at our company knows their specific role better than anybody else does. And also in the modern age where everything has to happen so quickly, that old model of, I have a question, wait, let me take it up the hill to the emperor or empress on the throne. It just doesn’t work anymore. (19:05-19:34)
  • When people participate in decision making, that’s how you get buy-in. That’s how you get alignment. That’s how you get discipline. You get it voluntarily. You can never hold it through fear and terror and power. You can’t win that way in the 21st century. (27:09-27:31)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




#14 | RESURRECTING MARY

“Jesus’s inner circle of disciples includes both men and women on an equal footing. There is no distinction made between a male group of disciples and a female group of camp followers.”
—Cynthia Bourgeault

In AD 313 the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and with a single edict elevated a banned set of spiritual teachings to official state religion. One man atop a great empire legalized Christianity with the wave of a hand.

Twelve years later the newly empowered church hierarchy convened at Nicaea to consolidate the differing stories under the Christian umbrella that had been passed down by countless, diverse clans across the empire and beyond since the time of Jesus. If Christianity were to expand, it needed a consistent narrative defining its faith and history. It needed a single story.

By AD 367 the twenty-seven “canonically authorized apostolic writings” that would eventually become the official New Testament were selected and approved. All the participants in that process were male and would be for a long, long time to come.

Those men, and their male-dominated societies, would, over time, systematically marginalize one of Jesus’s most trusted, loved, and respected apostles.

Why?

Because her name was Mary . . .

* * *

The first class I ever attended at Bowdoin College was Religion 101 taught by the esteemed William Goeghegan.

Moments into the experience I was asked a question I had never before contemplated.

“Mr. Hancock, what is your religion and why have you chosen it?”

I had no answer beyond saying I was a Christian.

As I left historic Massachusetts Hall and entered the Quad I remained consumed by the question.

Three buildings down from the old white house I grew up in stood the Casco Village Church. It was the only church in town and it was where everyone I knew went on Sundays. My Dad went there as a child as did his parents before him. That congregation was affiliated with the United Church of Christ, which made me a Protestant. That’s the entire story behind why I was Christian.

As a child in that white, wooden Church with steeple, the Bible was referenced each week and I neither questioned nor consider who edited, compiled, and sanctioned it. To me it was the direct word of God. There was no recognition at the time that it was carefully assembled by a small group of white men who, like all humans, had an agenda.

Awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

* * *

Unlike the celebrated male apostles, Mary was the only one to witness Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. In fact, Jesus chose to appear to Mary alone after his tomb was found empty.

“So Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord, and this is what he said to me.”
—John 20:14–18

I learned of Mary’s unique role as the “apostle to the apostles” only recently and initially I was surprised. Why would such a central figure in Jesus’s life and teachings play such a minor role in the Bible itself?

Could it be no more complicated than a woman as Jesus’s closest confident didn’t fit the stories that helped justify the male dominated order of the Roman Catholic Church?

What if, as the Christian researcher and spiritualist Cynthia Bourgeault concludes, the stories that ultimately became the Bible missed or underrepresented essential components of Jesus’s life and teachings? For example, as Bourgeault writes,

  1. “Jesus’s inner circle of disciples includes both men and women on an equal footing.”
  2. Mary Magdalene was not just “first among apostles in a chronological sense (because she was the first on the scene at the resurrection), but in a more fundamental way, because she gets the message. Of all the disciples, she is the only one who fully understands what Jesus is teaching and can reproduce it in her own life.”
  3. And finally, that Mary was “clearly in a relationship with Jesus that is in some way special: a ‘beloved disciple.’ ”

What if the most sacred religious scriptures of the Western world had featured these components, telling a story of sexual equality and the necessity of embracing the sacred feminine in order for a world full of LOVE to blossom? What if Mary was the one who best understood and manifested Jesus’s message? What if man and woman as co-equals had emerged as a dominant theme of Jesus’s teachings? How might the Western world have evolved differently if led by that story?

And what if, despite these potential truths, she was later sidelined.

I have no way of knowing with certainty, but I do have a hard time picturing a supreme God source that would intentionally anoint only men as apostles.

* * *

The Bible, like all sacred texts, is a collection of stories written, and rewritten, by humans. Those humans, by virtue of their direct engagement, became creators themselves.

And what does all of this have to do with the “Business of Shared Leadership”?

A lot, as it turns out.

Those with the most power often overreach and one common manifestation of that overreaching is exercising the power of the pulpit and throne to select and refine the stories that will define the society they rule.

For me, Jesus’s teachings are about “power dispersal.” Everyone is sacred and holy. A divine light dwells within us all. Love is the unifying bond, and it does not choose favorites. Men, women, people of color, and people of different faiths . . . they are all God’s children, and as such, are all worthy of an equal footing and the same respect and love. It takes an equal dose of male and female energy for humanity to be whole. This makes Mary’s presence in Jesus’s story a leading role.

To re-examine, not recite, my Christianity is to revisit one portion of the circle of identity that defines me thereby expanding my view of a world filled with stories that differ from my own.

 

“What happened to the Divine Feminine? Why has SHE apparently disappeared from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? In the Gnostic Gospels, we learn that Mary Magdalene was probably the closest disciple of the Christos, the one whom the Master taught the most arcane esoteric wisdom. She was and is the representation of all wisdom.”
– Laurence Galian

Research for some of the ideas explored in this essay came from the following sources:
The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault (Shambhala, 2010)
Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing by Stephan Hoeller (Quest Books, 2002)
* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the fourteenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#13 | OH . . . THE STORIES WE’VE TOLD

“La Storia di questi avvenimenti fu scritta dai vincitori.”
(“The history of these events was written by the winners.”)
–Italian proverb

Are you aware that your view of the world is based on a carefully cultivated set of stories that you have been repeatedly told since childhood?

You’ve likely been fed these stories for so long in both overt and covert ways that you’ve accepted them as largely unalterable truths.

For example, I remember how silence consumed me the day I realized that America had committed countless acts of genocide against indigenous peoples. It was my second trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and I had just left a visit with several community leaders through which the full, ugly story had been revealed. Later, beside my dusty rental vehicle I searched the term “genocide” on my phone. The treatment of the plains tribes met every criteria. I was dumbfounded at my own historical ignorance.

I majored in American history in college and then taught that same history as a career for several years thereafter. Not once across that entire educational journey did I see, hear, or read anything about genocide as a central element of the America experience. Yet now, suddenly, that truth was as real as the moon and the sun.

I paced in circles, unable to break my orbit and re-enter my car.

 


“We all adhere to a belief system; otherwise, we don’t have a strategy for dealing with a complex world,” my Colombian-born friend and advertising executive Jose Miguel Sokoloff once told me over an English breakfast in London.

Storytelling is one of the oldest traditions of the human experience. It’s through stories that we come to know our heritage, our ancestors, and ourselves. Stories sort and select our enemies and our friends. They define our families, faiths, and countries. Most everything you know came to you through stories. It’s the price contextualizing the world demands.

But what happens when we become so deeply immersed in our own narratives that we can’t contemplate the possibility that what we perceive as absolute truth is actually, in part, merely a story? And how do we react when we come into contact with others from different cultures, faiths, and times whose lives have been built on a different set of tales?

When our stories become central to our sense of identity it can be very difficult to transcend them and consider a new set of possibilities. There are few skills more essential to continuous personal renewal and heightened social consciousness than the ability to critically reexamine our personal beliefs and tribal narratives.

And how would you say we are doing in that regard?

Our loftiest social narratives are written by the winners—by those who hold the most power at the time of their creation. Throughout history it has often been dangerous, even life-threatening, to question these stories once the ruling hierarchy has sanctified them.

That’s why Jesus was crucified. Ironically, it’s also why in 1555, Protestant bishops Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and John Hooper were condemned as heretics and burned at the stake in Jesus’s name.

That’s why Vladimir Putin’s top political opponent Alexei Navalny was poisoned while exiled in Germany, and then sentenced to two and a half years of hard labor upon his return. There can only be one political story in Putin’s Russia.

This is also why freedom fighters in Hong Kong are being systematically oppressed, tried, and jailed. When Chairman Xi speaks before the National Congress, everyone must stand and applaud.

Why would a small group of leaders within an ethnic group, religious faith, or nation-state go to such great lengths to create a single sanctioned narrative?

The answer is simple: to control the story. Despite all the tanks, missiles, and technology in Russia, China, and America, the power of each rests in the maintenance of a dominant historical narrative. Everything we know rests on the veracity of a story.

Our ability to see past our own stories is ultimately what will define us.

So where to begin?

As always, we must begin at home – within ourselves.

In future essays I will be taking a look at my own white, male, Christian, American, CEO stories that have combined to shape my limited view of a diverse and complex world.

And what shall I take from this potentially discomforting inquiry?

What I expect to find is that my stories are incomplete and that there are far more dimensions and truths than I have previously made room for. After all, what is “truth,” and who gets to define it?

Unpacking our own narratives is essential for change to occur. Unless I can loosen my grip on my own stories, I can’t possibly make room for any of yours.

“History is mostly story.”
—Ken Burns

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the thirteenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#12 | SUNSETTING MY IPHONE

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night I bet they would live a lot differently.”

—Bill Watterson

It was cold by Southwest Florida standards.

As a result, nobody was around.

Cool, cushioning sand encased my bare feet as I meandered without intention or destination. The wind blew diagonally from the north and the surf responded. I watched the waves. No two were alike, yet all were the same.

I veered toward the tall grasses that swayed as they marked the outer limits of the sand’s domain. I was waiting without a watch or a worry as all who have known the draw of the ocean have done before me.

In this case, I was here to witness the sun fade into the Gulf of Mexico as it had done more than twenty thousand times since the day I was born.

As I left the tall grass and descended toward the water’s edge, I startled a small black-and-white ocean bird. It’s the kind you always seem to come across where the land meets the sea, a bird you recognize by sight but not by species or name. This one, I feared, was not long for this world. She was alone in a place where her kind typically congregates in a flowing mass.

As I passed she tried again and again to shake her wings and will them into action, but flight was impossible. The seashore is an unforgiving place for a tiny, wounded bird that cannot fly.

I unexpectedly reciprocated her shiver and let out a sigh. The outcome seemed certain. The words of American mythologist Joseph Campbell came to mind: Life eats life.

I checked the sun and moved on, plucking an occasional shell from the beach and contemplating its uniqueness before letting it fall back to the sand and surf.

Now the sun seemed to accelerate as the inevitable collision of sky and earth drew near.

Before me sat the remnant of a Game of Thrones–like castle formed from the sand. Most of it was gone, but two towers at the far corner clung together.

I sat before the ruins where the sun could be seen between the two remaining pillars. A formation of pelicans drifted by. The sun fell further and there I sat, alone yet at peace with all the world. My breathing became rhythmic and for a moment I was seeing in what Black Elk called “a sacred manner.”

And then, almost instinctively, I decided I should take a picture and post it to Instagram, so all my followers could see what I see.

How artsy this is . . . the sun falling into the sea between two sand-castle towers. Everyone should see this. Not only should they see it, they should see it now. In real time. In full color.

So I groped for my phone, finally extracting it from my back pocket. The momentum of my immersion into the landscape was broken.

I took a picture, then another, and then another. None satisfied me. Suddenly time was not on my side. Moments earlier, time had had no side.

Each picture was not quite right. In many, a red blot from the light of the sun would reflect and appear in a place where it shouldn’t be, as if intentionally defaming the authenticity of each shot.

The sun continued to fall.

I tried again.

And again.

My timeless moment had become a chore. I had returned without thought to that which I had come here to avoid—tasks, timelines, and the need to please the outside world.

*          *          *

I did eventually post a picture and it came out okay. It got fifty-eight likes, and that was fine.

But my personal solo sunset experience was not enhanced. I had, in fact, detracted from my own encounter.

In the end everything was still, of course, all good. I was thankful for the visit to the beach and I biked away in peace, but as I pedaled a part of me wished I had stayed more focused on the experience of personally witnessing the sun dropping for its one and only time between those two towers of sand that would not survive the evening’s tide.

*          *          *

I once had a powerful vision-quest experience alone on a large rock, warmed by the sun as I looked up at Devils Tower in the Black Hills. After closing my eyes for some time a white buffalo appeared before me. I learned later that the white buffalo is perhaps the most sacred sight a person of Lakota blood could see.

One day I told a friend on the Pine Ridge Reservation about my vision.

“Wow,” he replied simply.

“I don’t know how I’ll share that experience with others,” I said, breaking the silence.

“Kevin, that vision wasn’t meant for anybody else,” he said softly. “It was just for you.”

There are moments for phones and picture sharing, but there are also a few sacred moments meant for you alone. The strength gained from a sunset viewed alone is in fact shared with all the world through the generative act of serving yourself. When we honor ourselves, we strengthen from within. When we strengthen from within, we expand our capacity to serve the world.

“Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one.”

—Black Elk

____________________

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the twelfth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#11 | A SELF-ABSORBED AMERICA

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.”

—John Muir

Last week I wrote about the importance of CEOs broadening their roles and seeing the highest calling of free enterprise as the advancement of humanity.

This week I want to call out all of America for becoming self-absorbed.

“Just watch the nightly news,” my friend Pankaj Srivastava said to me as we met via Zoom during the height of COVID-19.

“We’ve become completely self-absorbed as a country,” Pankaj continued. “All you see on the television news is what’s happening right here in America. We’ve lost track of the huge swath of humanity outside our borders and how much more difficult life can be elsewhere. We’re spoiled and we’re self-centered. We can’t see our place in the larger context of humanity anymore.”

In the days following our visit I watched the news and reflected upon what Pankaj had said. He was right. In a thirty-minute nightly news program there might be a minute or two devoted to something beyond our national borders.

Pankaj by nature is an internationalist. Born in India, he emigrated to America, and we first met when I traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, to do some research for my second book on the company he was working for at the time, ZEO Alliance. Pankaj has worked and lived in over two dozen countries, and as a result, sees America in a broader context than someone who has only ever lived here.

“We’ve lost track of how the rest of the world works,” Pankaj said. “The despots, the totalitarians, the corruption, the starvation, the wars, and the poverty that exist in so many places have become distant to us. We’re only thinking about ourselves.”

This bronze statue, titled Bitter Memory of Childhood, stands in the center of the walkway at the Holodomor Victims Memorial in Kiev, Ukraine. Holodomor translates to “Forced Starvation.” Between 1932 and 1933, on orders from the Supreme Soviet Politburo, large regions of the Ukrainian countryside were blockaded and intentionally deprived of all food sources. Millions of innocent people died. I went there in 2018 to interview two of the last remaining survivors. I saw the trip as a direct extension of my role as a lumber company CEO committed to strengthening the voices of others, especially those who have traditionally not felt fully heard, like the amazing people of Ukraine.

Approximately 7.84 billion people share Planet Earth, and 96 percent of them do not live in America. The generally fortunate 4 percent that live here combine to produce, create, invent, consume, and enjoy 16 percent of the total planet’s economic output, while consuming 20 percent of the world’s oil. That’s our economic might.

Improving economic conditions for all Americans should always be a priority, but it’s important to see that work in a global context. In 2020 the median income level in the United States is $63,240. In China, it’s $10,410. Median income in Vietnam is $2,540, Pakistan, $1,530, and Congo, $520 (www.worlddata.info/average-income.php).  Additionally, 700 million people globally live in “extreme” poverty, surviving on $1.90 per day or less. Around the world, 25,000 people die daily from hunger or hunger-related causes. Billions of people worldwide live in autocratic, corrupt, or semi-lawless societies.

And what would all these people, living in more tenuous circumstances than our own, ask from us collectively as American’s?

I think the answer, at its most human level, would be for us to truly see them, and correspondingly, to see ourselves in a broader context.

Each year, people by the thousands walk from El Salvador to the US border carrying everything they own with the hope of just getting into our country and escaping the extreme poverty, gang violence, and corruption that permeates their homeland.

“I feel lucky to be in this country,” Pankaj said. “It’s the greatest country on Earth.”

This reminded me of yet another conversation I had recently. I was in a taxi in Boston, and the driver was a young African immigrant. A conversation sparked between us as he drove, prompting me to ask him my favorite question.

“What brings you here?” I queried.

“Here you can be free,” he replied in reference to America. “There’s no corruption here. Where I come from there is no democracy, no rule of law. There is only corruption. There are no jobs and no opportunity in my native land. Here there is opportunity.”

Corruption.

This word comes up time and again in my global travels. I was shocked, for example, at how openly pervasive corruption was in Ukraine as a result of decades of Soviet communist rule.

“Corruption is very bad in Ukraine,” my driver Yuri told me as we’d headed from the airport toward downtown Kiev. “Even driving is corrupt here. That’s why there are so many very bad drivers. People pay illegally to get license. Economy not good here—too much corruption for free systems to fully function, but people still live—people still smile.”

The median income in Ukraine is $3,370, yet Yuri is excited about the future.

“We are very great optimists, Ukrainian people,” he told me.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Those words stand the test of time and reverberate with deep relevance today. They might also be morphed into an invitation for America globally.

Ask not America only what you can do for yourself; ask also what you can do for the world.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

—Abraham Lincoln

____________________

Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the eleventh in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#10 | THE CEO ROLE

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

—Joseph Heller

I often have to write for a while before it becomes clear to me what I am writing about.

This is contrary to what I was taught in middle-school English class. “You must know the end of the essay in order to write the beginning,” my teachers told me.

But life isn’t always that tidy. Sometimes you’ve just got to pick up the pen and start writing in order for the spirit within you to manifest and flow forth.

*          *          *

This is the tenth essay of my weekly series, and it occurs to me that enticing CEOs to broaden their mission, expand their roles, and see their companies in a fresh light is one of the core aspirations of my writing this year.

Mike Hall, one of many great leaders at Hancock Lumber, where I work, is fond of telling me that my most valuable role is actually “Chief Evangelist,” not “Chief Executive.”

An evangelist is someone who seeks to convert. An evangelist understands the power and potential of an idea.

In that sense, Mike is right. My passion is learning to see the world of work, commerce, and free enterprise through fresh eyes—for what my alma mater, Bowdoin College, calls “the common good.”

I recently participated in a statewide leadership program on racial equity here in Maine.

“Why are you here?” one of the facilitators asked each of us at the opening session.

“I’m here because the purpose of any company should be to advance humanity,” I replied when my turn came. “Whatever confronts and challenges humanity must also manifest as priorities in our businesses.”

I hadn’t premeditated that answer. It just came out.

There are approximately 195,000 CEOs in America. Together they influence the values and cultural expectations for 155 million US workers and a $25 trillion economy. Imagine the potential social impact of those CEOs all embracing the belief that their highest calling is to advance humanity by serving the people right in front of them, the employees who give all companies life.

Old-school business thinking once urged CEOs to stick to their knitting and focus on the narrow core of their corporate mission. In our case that would be making lumber and facilitating logistics. Make no mistake: In order for our company to have a platform for doing good, we must be world-class at making lumber, and be fanatics about OTIF (“On time and in full delivery”). But that doesn’t mean lumber and delivery trucks represent our highest purpose. Our highest purpose is to create meaningful and empowering work experiences for those who choose to dedicate a piece of their lives to our company, as employees. The first priority of our company is the people who work there.

Where in society are adults going to grow and self-actualize? It has to be their place of work, because that’s where most adults congregate.

From a business standpoint, the twenty-first century is about flipping the script on the core purpose of capitalism. When the mission reorients and elevates, the potential for good expands. Humanity doesn’t need less capitalism; it needs more. But the kind it needs must be reimagined. Employees don’t exist to serve companies; companies exist to serve employees. When this shift occurs, employee loyalty, creativity, commitment, and capacity are unleashed. Business performance accelerates on the wings of service to others.

This doesn’t mean the end of accountability, best practices, core systems, or organizational focus. In fact, when companies serve their employees, all of these elements are strengthened. As our safety director Gregg Speed is fond of saying, “People support what they help to create.”

The Hancock Lumber sawmill team in Casco receiving a team safety award. A core mission of our company is to be a place where every member of the team feels trusted, respected, valued, and heard.

The purpose of safety within a company is a great example of this required shift in thinking. A company does not pursue safety to save money or avoid OSHA. A company pursues safety because its core mission is to be meaningful and valuable to the people who work there. Helping everyone stay healthy and safe is fundamental to any company’s raison d’être.

Change is created first within us, then beside us, and finally beyond us. When CEOs change what they see as their highest purpose, organizational transformation follows.

CEOs have the opportunity to release a veritable wave of human capacity, machinery, and capital toward the common good. Business is no different than life. When you commit to serving others, you are repaid with more than you give.

My personal mission as the CEO of Hancock Lumber is to create a corporate culture where everyone feels trusted, respected, valued, and heard. Creating that culture will improve business performance, but those results are the outcome of a higher calling. That higher calling is sharing leadership broadly and respecting all voices in a manner that helps every human within the organization to self-actualize and tap into the sacred power that dwells within us all. Advancing humanity, one human at a time, is the new business of business.

Setting that course is the CEO’s role.

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.”

—Martin Luther King

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the tenth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#9 | HENRY, MAMIE, EDDIE, AND BUTCH

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“Your choices and efforts, be they small or grand, define who you are.”

—Richelle Goodrich

Henry and Mamie Wilson migrated north from South Carolina to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1921.

“I believe he was about the first black man they ever hired at US Steel,” his son Tim would tell me nearly one hundred years later as we sat together at the Yordprom Coffee Co. on the uphill side of Congress Street in Portland, Maine. “He was the janitor there for forty-three years.

“My mom was just as sharp as my dad,” Tim continues. “Her name was Mamie Mobley Wilson. She was the cleaning lady at Suburban General Hospital. Everybody loved her too.”

Now well into his seventies, Tim is wearing a black sweat suit and a Tuskegee Airmen cap, leaning back comfortably in his chair.

As I listen to Tim reflect on his parents’ influence on his life, I contemplate whether Henry and Mamie could have imagined the social contributions that their son would go on to make. Today Tim Wilson is one of the most respected racial equity leaders in the State of Maine, and the legendary (now retired) director of the internationally recognized Seeds of Peace Camp dedicated to eliminating Arab–Israeli conflict, one teenager at a time.

Can we ever really know what impact we will have on the world simply by doing the little things right, one day at a time?

Two young black janitors from the Jim Crow South were positively impacting the world long after their own deaths through the values and skills they instilled in their son.

Henry and Mamie Wilson’s son, Tim (center, in white) at the Seeds of Peace Camp in Maine.

*          *          *

Henry, Mamie, and Tim’s personal story reminds me of two seemingly disconnected tales that my friend Angus King recently shared with me.

Tale #1

Many years ago, Al Capone virtually ruled Chicago. Capone owed much of his position and freewheeling lifestyle to his exceptional lawyer, known locally as “Easy Eddie.”

To show his appreciation, Capone paid Easy Eddie very well. Eddie and his family lived on an estate so large that it filled a city block. Eddie enjoyed the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him.

But Eddie had a soft spot for his son, whom he loved dearly. And despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie tried to teach his son right from wrong.

Even with all his wealth and influence there were two things Eddie couldn’t give his son: a good name, and a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. He wanted to rectify his wrongs.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about his boss, Al Capone, in hopes of cleaning up his tarnished name and offering his son some integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against the Chicago mob.

Within a year, Eddie’s life would end in a blaze of gunfire.

Tale #2

World War II produced many heroes, and one such man was Butch O’Hare.

Butch was a fighter pilot in the South Pacific assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington.  

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. En route Butch realized his fuel levels were unexpectedly low and his flight leader ordered him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, Butch dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

On his return he spotted a previously undetected squadron of Japanese aircraft speeding toward the American fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, Butch dove into the Japanese formation. His wing-mounted .50 calibers blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane after another. He continued the solo assault until all of his ammunition was spent. Undaunted, he pressed the confrontation until the Japanese planes veered off in another direction. Butch and his tattered fighter then limped back to the carrier, having destroyed five enemy aircraft. The date was February 20, 1942.

For his actions Butch became the US Navy’s first ace of World War II, and the first naval aviator to win the Medal of Honor. Later that year, at the age of twenty-nine, he was killed in aerial combat. Today Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is named in his honor.

So what do these two seemingly disparate stories have in common?

Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

*          *          *

We don’t know the full impact we will have on this world. What you do today counts, no matter how marginalized or small you might feel. A stone cast into the water ripples long after we’ve moved on from watching it expand. Humanity is anchored and defined by those who never considered themselves famous or extraordinary.

“Ordinary people do great things every day.”

—Jim Valvano

 

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the ninth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#8 | THE GOOSE AND THE APPLE

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.”

—Wayne Dyer

The Charles River Esplanade is a meandering urban green space separating Boston’s Back Bay neighborhoods from the Charles River. Filled with hardwood trees, playing fields, and exercise paths, the Esplanade traverses more than three miles, from the Museum of Science to Boston University. On any given day this scenic byway is filled with walkers, joggers, bikers, bench sitters, and geese—lots of geese.

I was walking on the Esplanade one January morning when I witnessed a short sequence starring the geese that caused me to pause and reflect.

I was crossing an arched stone bridge. Beneath me ran a shallow stream partially covered by patches of thin ice. In a pool of open water twelve geese were casually drifting about when one of them spotted a half-eaten apple on an ice sheet nearby. As that goose moved with intention toward the apple the others began to take notice. Soon a race was on. Wings and feathers were set in motion as a cacophony of honking spontaneously erupted.

The original goose was first to the apple, but he knew time was of the essence. He slid across the ice, neck extended, trying to gather the entire prize in his mouth. But the apple would not cooperate. It slid and bounced its way back into the water where multiple geese fought for control. Moments earlier this flock had been peacefully gathered together for safety in a display of tribal unity. The presence of a single apple had been enough to make them turn on each other.

I reflected upon the implications of what I had witnessed for humanity. The instinctive wiring of life on Earth is grounded in a scarcity mind-set—the fear that there are not enough apples for everyone. Long before white men ventured onto the American plains, Indians fought, killed, and tortured other Indians for control of critical natural resources and hunting grounds. To be sure, like the geese, Indian tribes also came together and cooperated with each other as well. That’s really the point: Humanity, like all life on Earth, has always maintained a delicate balance between competition and cooperation.

How do our primal instincts advance or hinder social harmony and human collaboration in the twenty-first century? Might those instincts at times prevent us from seeing clearly, even keeping us fixated on the wrong problems?

The World Health Organization estimates there is 1.5 times enough food presently available to feed everyone on the planet. This would suggest that distribution, not scarcity, is the problem. Digging deeper in search of root causes, humanity has radically uneven economic productivity. The average household income in the United States is approximately $66,000, compared to $13,000 in Venezuela, $7,500 in Cuba, $3,400 in Ukraine, and $530 in the Congo. That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not optimal.

Why is this so? And what’s the solution?

One remediating strategy would be to take most of the money from places like the United States and send it to places like Cuba. That’s the scarcity mind-set model, and it wouldn’t work. Within a generation the income would be unevenly distributed again back in places like America. There is no net global benefit to lowering income in America. By the same reasoning, there is no net benefit to lowering income levels in Colorado ($77,000) in order to grow them in Mississippi ($46,000). (As an interesting aside, the highest average income levels in America are in the District of Columbia, $92,000.)

An abundance mind-set would recognize that there are massive opportunities for productivity growth around the world. Getting there would require leaping two hurdles. First, we would need to initially over-invest in communities that have historically been exploited. Second, we would need to expand the conditions of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law to all the peoples of the world. Freedom for all is the solution, and that includes economic freedom. Corruption prevails wherever democracy and free markets are restricted. In America, for example, the historic problem has been the exclusion of some from the full rights of our democracy. We don’t need less freedom for some; we need full access to freedom for everyone.

My favorite current example of annual income disparity is that of Hong Kong and China. The annual household income in Hong Kong is $50,800, compared to $10,410 in China. So what is the Chinese Communist government’s strategic response to this discrepancy? It’s to make Hong Kong more like China. How do you think that’s going to work out?

Primal man, like the geese on the pond, fought over the scarcity of apples.

Modern man has the potential to grow more than enough apples for everyone.

A mind-set of abundance, not scarcity, is the path toward more apples for all. We need more freedom and democracy, fully accessible and evenly applied. Rising up does not require a corresponding volume of pulling down.

“The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom.”

—Ludwig von Mises

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

Sources:

https://foodfirst.org/publication/we-already-grow-enough-food-for-10-billion-people-and-still-cant-end-hunger/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20Food%20and,world’s%202050%20projected%20population%20peak.

https://www.worlddata.info/average-income.php

https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/median-annual-income/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

____________________

This is the eighth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#7 | THE FUTURE-BASED SELF

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

 

“What you think, you become.

What you feel, you attract.

What you imagine, you create.”

—Buddha

Despite an incalculable myriad of differences in backgrounds, experiences, and opportunities, every living human shares one common truth: We must all move into the future from the spot we presently occupy.

Wherever you are at this moment is your launching point for the future, and nothing can change that. We take our next step from the piece of ground we now stand upon.

“Everyone has three selves: a past-based self, a future-based self, and a present-based self. The past-based self is the person an individual thinks he or she used to be. This self-concept is influenced by powerful memories. The future-based self is the person the individual imagines he or she is going to be. This is influenced by powerful goals (or the absence thereof). The present-based self is a combination of the other two selves, with either the past self-concept or the future self-concept dominating.”

—Dan Sullivan

An essential component of self-awareness is recognizing whether or not our thoughts are led by the future or the past.

I have learned this lesson the hard way many times, most recently through my voice condition. In 2010 I acquired spasmodic dysphonia (SD), a rare neurological voice disorder that makes speaking difficult. At its worst it feels like a seat belt has been tightened around my throat when I talk. The condition is particularly restrictive in group settings, on the telephone, and anywhere there is background noise.

In 2018, after living with SD for nearly a decade, I began seeing a hypnotherapist by the name of Maggie Clement. Once a month I would travel into Portland and meet with her in a small first-floor brownstone office near Maine Medical Center. The first half of each session was an open discussion where Maggie would ask me questions and listen as I described my emotions and experiences with respect to SD.

“How often do you think about your voice?” Maggie asked me one day. “And when you think about it, are your thoughts positive or negative?”

These two questions would come to mark the turning point in my ability to navigate and transcend my affliction.

I left her office that afternoon and drove home in a reflective silence.

The following day I began counting every time I thought about my voice. Additionally, I noted whether the thought was positive or negative.

I realized that I thought about my voice more than one hundred times a day, and each time, it was negative. I was constantly thinking about the difficulties I had encountered in the past and then projecting an expectation for continued difficulty in the future.

For example, if I was going to a restaurant that evening I would momentarily think of it dozens of times that day, with the expectation that the chatter and clatter would overwhelm me.

It turned out I was unaware of both the frequency and fragility of my thoughts. I did not know, until Maggie called me out, that I was constantly worrying about how my voice would perform in the future based on my experiences from the past.

After months and months of training Maggie helped me to break this self-fulfilling prophecy. Today, thanks to my heightened self-awareness, I recognize a negative thought about my voice as soon as it arrives.

“Ha, I’ve caught you!” I now say to myself when such moments manifest. “Now, go away. You are nothing but a self-contrived negative thought about the future based on past experiences.”

Today I deliberately put positive thoughts in my mind with respect to my voice. I envision it performing. I imagine myself healing.

The difference in my vocal performance has been dramatic. I still have a shaky voice at times, but it no longer dominates my thinking or expectations. As a result, I’ve improved a condition that the medical community defines as incurable.

This was one of many lessons I learned regarding the limiting powers of a past-based mind. Thankfully Maggie taught me that this was my mind we were talking about, and as such, I had the ability to fill it intentionally with future-based optimism.

“The future-based person achieves freedom from the past.”

—Dan Sullivan

(Note: Dan Sullivan is the creator and author of the book and audio series HOW THE BEST GET BETTER: THE ART AND SCIENCE OF ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS.)

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the seventh in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



Keep it Local Maine: Episode 29

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Keep It Local Maine hosts Kimberly and Todd Regoulinsky about his shared leadership philosophy and creating an employee-centric business model for Hancock Lumber. He shares the journey that brought him to this understanding and how important he feels investing in your employees is for the business and for the employee. He has created a culture where the leadership responsibilities are shared among everyone, meaning that solutions are coming from the people working inside the situations and not just upper management. Kevin can see the confidence that it helps build when everyone’s voice is respected, heard, and valued.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • But essentially what happened was I had to quite quickly come up with a new approach to leading that involved not talking very much. And that led me down a simple trail at that point. If you’re not going to talk a lot, you’re going to listen a lot. And so I really ended up kind of flipping my approach leadership, from talking to listening, and from being on that stage, to sharing the stage. (04:06-04:40)
  • It’s about leaders or managers actually doing less, not more. And really focusing more on the culture of the organization. And creating a platform for a truth that authenticity to surface. Because you know, you think about it. In any organization, if people feel safe, safe to just be their authentic selves, say what they think, be who they are, be at peace as they are, just think about how transformational that one template can be. It really changes everything. (07:02-07:46)
  • Like our performance as a company has improved pretty dramatically in the year following this approach. But that’s, to me, the outcome of something bigger and more important. Which is really just celebrating – I mean, I don’t want to overdo it – but humanity. The sacredness of each person honoring everybody as they are. It’s actually kind of getting back to a simpler approach. And when you just honor everybody as they are and don’t feel like you have to fix, control, change, regulate, direct everybody, think about how much easier life gets. (11:27-12:14)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




#6 | CIRCLES AND SQUARES

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. The sky is round, and I have heard that the Earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls, birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

—Black Elk

The remains of old Fort Fetterman sit high above the North Platte River at a point just north of Douglas, Wyoming. It’s a cold fall day as I pull my dust-covered rental truck into the inconspicuous gravel parking lot. No other vehicles are in sight. The fort is closed, which is my favorite time to visit.

The abandoned forts, trails, and battle sites commemorating the nineteenth century on the northern plains are best visited alone. It is in silence that these windswept artifacts tell their stories about the winning—and the losing—of the American West.

I pull my wool hat down over my ears as I ascend the ridge before me that conceals the remains of the fort. My Lakota medicine wheel necklace bounces gently on my sweater as I walk. Tumbleweeds dance and dart in front of me. The wind and my footsteps are the only sounds. I am facing north toward the Bighorn Mountains, toward the Little Bighorn River, and toward the Montana goldfields that created the necessity for this fort and the Bozeman Trail that passed through it.

Parade grounds sit at the center of all the Western forts I have visited. As I follow their sharp edges with my eyes, I can’t help but think how closely related a square is to a circle. All that is required is to bend the corners.

The abandoned flagpole and supporting metal guide wires whistle in the wind. My feet crunch with each step on the narrow gravel path. Without thinking, I begin walking more aggressively and deliberately so that I can hear that sound, the sound of marching. I move in rhythm, accentuating each step down the faint outline of the old parade grounds. I am in no hurry. I have nowhere to go.

Circles and squares define the northern plains. Nature makes the circles, and men—a product of nature themselves—then turn them into squares.

The hills roll.

The rivers bend.

The grass swirls.

The seasons come and go.

Day turns to night.

Life emerges and then fades.

It’s all a circle.

Yet the plains today are equally dominated by squares.

From the air you see property divided, square after square.

Houses are square and fence posts travel in straight lines.

To the Sioux and other plains tribes the circle is sacred, for that is how life travels.

There is much to be gained from seeing the circles that surround and define us all. While no two human journeys are ever the same, our lives do share a pattern that nature’s rhythm commands.

Consciousness itself is a circle. We are born full of innocence. The time and place of our birth then begins to pull on us and makes its mark. Eventually we come of age and the opportunity to awaken presents itself. Our degree of consciousness then defines our experience until we return to our place of origin and rejoin the innocence, which is also the place of knowing.

Consciousness is the state of being awake and aware. Birth is the invitation to acquire it. But to gain consciousness we must know where to look. In a world full of chaos and distractions we must learn to look within ourselves, where consciousness resides.

Consciousness once created can never be destroyed. We carry it back with us and gift it to the collective human memory and the shared learning of the Universe. Even consciousness—or the lack thereof—travels in a circle.

“We Indians think of the Earth and the whole universe as a never-ending circle, and in this circle, man is just another animal. The buffalo and the coyote are our brothers; the birds, our cousins. Even the tiniest ant, even a louse, even the smallest flower you can find, they are all relatives.”

—Jenny Leading Cloud

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the sixth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#5 | ORIGINS

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

Bureaucracy and social harmony are inversely proportionate to each other.”

Leon Trotsky

What are the origins of bureaucracy?

How did “power” historically become centralized in command-and-control hierarchies?

How did certain groups come to exert a defining influence over others?

The answer, at its most fundamental level, is through stories backed by force and force justified through stories.

Slavery was a story backed by force. The subjugation of indigenous peoples across the Americas was also a story backed by force. The September 11, 2001, attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center is another story backed by force. A traditionally male-dominated society was, and is, a story backed by force. In all cases a narrative defining the superiority of one group and the inferiority of another is required in order to “justify” the inhumane actions required to establish and maintain dominance.

Both the Roman emperors and the European monarchs of the early and Middle Ages reigned on the basis of a story known as the “divine right of kings.” This tale, which became accepted as doctrine and was reinforced by the Church, stated that kings ruled with the backing of heavenly powers.

“The state of monarchy is the supremest thing upon Earth,
for the kings are not only God’s lieutenants upon Earth and sit upon God’s throne,
but even by God himself they are called Gods.”

—James I of England (1610)

Across the Western world this divine right was conveyed upon kings by another co-conspiring hierarchy, the Church.

“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.
For there is no power but of God: the powers that are ordained of God.
Whoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God:
and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

—Romans 13

All of this presumes a God who takes sides and is vengeful against those who do not follow “his” word.

In the quest to be fully conscious it’s interesting to note that the dominant conclusion of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism is of a hierarchical God who reigns from above, sends commandments below, and judges all. While this may be the case, it’s not the only interpretation. It does, however, conveniently set a precedent for human organizations to follow.

Indoctrination is defined as “the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.” The key word here is “uncritically.” These beliefs must become so deeply rooted over time that they exist largely unquestioned.

European Americans of the nineteenth century convinced themselves that native peoples were less-worthy humans and therefore exploitable. Southern plantation owners built their society upon the same narrative about people who were black. Slavery and reservations were actually considered “good” and “necessary” for the people subjected to them.

These are dramatic examples of hierarchies established by stories and force, but the model also manifests in more-subtle ways. The place of work, for example, has traditionally been organized around a similar pattern, a ladder of importance and control. The owner and the interests of the business are paramount. The employees, meanwhile, are subservient to the company and expected to follow the instructions that flow down from above.

It can be numbing to consciously confront the origins of our dominant leadership models. It gives me pause to even type these words. I am a white male CEO of a family business. My position in this world came in part through inheritance, as was true of my dad, his dad, and beyond, for six generations. Traveling centuries back in time, a piece of my opportunity emanated from the divine right of kings. Reconciling this and deciding what to do about it has become a priority for me.

In the end, I can’t change when and where I was born—I do have a company and I am leading it—but I can try to change how that company engages with others and expand the mission it exists to serve.

This is what brings me to champion the concepts of shared leadership, redistributed power, respect for all voices, and the creation of employee-centric companies that prioritize the people who work there.

Across human history, power has been centralized. But, like anything that travels in a circle, it can be given back. The fundamental building block of personal power is self-worth—the internal knowing that you are sacred. Today’s “kings” must honor this truth by re-dispersing their power.

The first step in creating a new and more-collaborative model for leadership is the uncomfortable task of acknowledging the old one.

“Bureaucracy is the art of making the possible impossible.”

Javier Salcedo

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the fifth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#4 | SURRENDER

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

“Well, I’ll be darned,” Walt said to Jimmy from the driver’s seat of the truck.

“Yes,” Jimmy replied from the passenger side. “They stock those filters at AutoZone down in Elko and sell them for eight bucks apiece.”

“I did not know that,” Walt said, clearly amazed.

From the backseat I checked the clock on the dashboard. It read 3:50 a.m. I adjusted my camouflage Gore-Tex gloves, pulled my wool cap down tighter over my ears, and settled fully into my seat as the dust swirled behind us into the blackness of a Nevada night. I drifted off to sleep to the rumbling of six tires careening over the road as Walt and Jimmy conversed with exceptional enthusiasm over stories great and small.

For the next five days this would become our morning ritual, Walt and Jimmy’s banter a transcendent reminder of the joy of being present.

*        *        *

Elk hunting for me is simultaneously energizing and draining, joyous and mundane, heartwarming and discomforting.

There’s no way we’re going to get an elk on this hunt, I thought.

I was huddled by a small fire on a rock-strewn mountaintop staring out across a vast expanse of treeless wilderness from which I could see both Idaho and Utah. I shivered, even though I was wearing everything that I had brought with me in my meager defense against the snow, wind, and cold.

“Welcome to Nevada ice fishing,” Jimmy said with a smile.

*        *        *

Elk hunting in a remote corner of the American West commands surrender, and this perhaps explains part of my addiction to the sport. As a CEO I am used to identifying a goal and making a plan. Action steps are listed and crossed off when completed. Timelines are established. Meetings are set to monitor progress and make adjustments if needed. The whole process is about increasing certainty and establishing control.

A guided elk hunting trip requires the exact opposite. It begins with surrender. To have any chance of success you must transcend the urge to structure and define your day.

Upon arrival you learn to cede virtually all control except your willingness to hustle and keep hunting even when the odds seem insurmountable. Until the experience is over someone else (your guide and outfitter) will decide where you sleep, when you awaken, when and what you eat, where you go, when you drive and when you walk, when and where you sit and wait, and when you attack.

If you want to maximize your odds of success you arrive ready to trust a small team of people that you have never met, and may never meet again. It’s an extreme test of one of life’s most difficult rules:

Learning to surrender is a prerequisite for finding your highest success and authentic path.

I have come to describe this state of being as learning to follow. Our future bumps into us all the time, but often we are too fixated on a predetermined march through a fully planned day—or life—to embrace the unexpected and follow along.

If an angel had told me in 2010 how the next decade of my life would unfold, I would not have believed the storyline.

The economy would crash not once, but twice. I would lose a piece of my voice to a rare neurological disorder and then set out from Maine for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where I would make over twenty visits and acquire two Lakota names. All of this would ignite my understanding that truth lies within us all, which would move me to rewrite my personal rules for organizational leadership through the honoring of every human voice. This, in turn, would plant the seeds for the three books that I would write, all while our company would set records on the wings of employee empowerment and dispersed power. The more I let go, the better we did.

I didn’t see any of this coming.

I couldn’t have scripted it.

I wouldn’t have been able to manifest any of this had I been determined to stay on a preset path and maintain tight control.

Surrender was required. Knowing was unknowing.

Like climbing into the backseat of Walt’s truck in total darkness, any hope for a successful hunt rests in complete surrender.

*        *        *

I did shoot a very big elk on our last afternoon of that trip, using a rifle that jammed after a single shot on a remote ridge known to the locals as “China Jim.” I never would have ended up in that spot at that moment if I hadn’t surrendered to Walt and Jimmy’s accrued experience, a lifetime of knowing elk.

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

—Joseph Campbell

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the fourth in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



#3 | STAYING ON MISSION IN A CHAOTIC WORLD

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

In the first decades of the twenty-first century, three exceptional yet unforeseen events altered humanity’s course.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda militants hijacked four airplanes. Within hours the twin towers of the World Trade Center would fall and a global war would commence. In 2008, subprime borrowers began defaulting on their home mortgages, initiating a financial crisis that nearly collapsed the entire global banking system. In late 2019, a small group of shoppers at a wet market in Wuhan, China, became infected with a virus of unknown origins. Within a hundred days, nearly every nation on Earth was partially paralyzed by gathering restrictions and lockdowns.

In times of such epic social disruptions, how do we stay focused on our personal mission and voice? How do we support the whole while advancing our sense of self?

Maintaining one’s personal energy in a sea of social chaos may be the essential skill of our time.

Every voice is unique by design. The long arc of humanity is ultimately the sum of its individual parts. What society needs most from us is for our never-to-be-repeated voices to be unfurled and broadly shared. We change the world one human at a time.

I was sensitized to the importance of authentic voice and personal mission by yet another combination of unexpected events. In 2010, I began to have trouble speaking. I was the CEO of one of America’s oldest family businesses, and our lumber company was reeling from the stress of the economic crisis when my voice failed me. Months later I was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called “spasmodic dysphonia” (SD). Suddenly, I had to develop a new strategy for leading that did not include lots of talking.

Two years later, I began traveling from Maine to the remote Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (a place I have now visited over twenty times). There I encountered an entire community that did not feel fully heard.

These two events combined to produce a series of personal learnings. First, I understood what it was like to not feel fully heard. Second, I realized there are lots of ways for people to lose their voice in this world. Third, I began to wonder if the very purpose of a human life on Earth is to self-actualize.

Unfortunately, across the centuries many leaders have done more to restrict the voices of others than to liberate them.

That’s when my personal calling became clear. The partial loss of my own voice was an invitation to disperse power, share leadership, and strengthen the voices of others. I have stayed focused on this mission ever since, despite the distractions of the larger world.

Influencing the world is an inside job. You have a mission and that mission matters. Only you can pursue it. Humanity needs you to be you and carry on. With this approach the world morphs into a different place. It slows down, gains clarity, and localizes.

The history-altering events described at the beginning of this essay share a single root cause: Humanity is moving too fast to acquire more. Our pace—you might call it our “race”—is unsustainable. In the Western world’s zeal to conquer and colonize we find the underpinnings of radical Islamic instability and terror. The subprime mortgage market collapse was also the result of impatience and excess on all sides. Speed was equally responsible for accelerating the global pandemic. How many customers can be crammed into an airplane, a stadium, a bar? Bigger, better, more. We all drank the Kool-Aid and now here we are.

Once we recognize the cause of our chaos, we can hone in on the cure. The world as seen on TV manifests as overwhelming. Only by returning to what lies within us and beside us can we clear the skies. Staying on your mission is the remedy to the turmoil that plagues our modern world. So for the love of humanity, follow your voice. Walk your path. Speak your truth.

If excessive pace with vague purpose is the problem, controlling your pace and clarifying your purpose is the cure.

(Note: A longer version of this essay was first published in 2020 as part of the international bestseller “Bright Spots: Motivation and Inspiration to Light Your Path in a Changing Worldby Cathy Davis. This book—a collection of essays written by forty authors from around the world, including Kevin, in response to the events of 2020—is available on Amazon, or wherever books are sold.)

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the third in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



We Need More From Business and It Starts With Listening

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with People At Work host Bev Attfield about his journey to finding an employee-centric business model and developing a workplace culture where everybody leads and every voice is respected, valued, and heard. Kevin shares how devastating feeling unheard can be, both in the workplace and in the community, and he has developed a way to embrace all voices at Hancock Lumber. By sharing the leadership responsibilities with everyone, Kevin has decentralized the power and spread it across everyone in the company. He shares the impact this has had, economically and socially, and how it can be utilized for any community, not just the workplace.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And I think that it starts within ourselves, even to be more specific. That the leaders need to change the way they approach leadership, the way they think about listening, the purpose of listening, the power of showing respect for all voices. (10:07-10:32)
  • It is a manifestation of nature. It is a manifestation of the divine and the individual is a sacred power source of its own. And I think that really is where we’re headed. (23:35-23:53)
  • In nature, the leadership power is dispersed. It lives in all aspects of nature. And because humans are a part of nature, not separate from it, we ultimately are on a long arching path of aspiration to live in harmony with that natural rule. (27:06-27:33)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




#2 | Awakening

2021 IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE SERIES BY KEVIN HANCOCK

Awakening to what?

Awakening to the sacred knowing that dwells within us all. Awakening to the power, path, and purpose that only the spirit within you can provide and the mysteries that only awakening can solve.

As the legendary American mythologist Joseph Campbell understood,

“We are the truth we seek to know.”

But awakening to this realization—that inward lies our voice, salvation, power, and destiny—is increasingly difficult in our materialistic modern world which is wired for 24/7 connectivity to external voices, all vying for our time, attention, ego, and control.

The times we are living in have pulled our vision to the external, to what others are doing—or not doing. When solutions and salvation rest beyond our reach we become spectators, sidelined from the game. When someone “over there” needs to change in order for our world to improve, we’ve ceded control and lost our inner power to make a difference.

For centuries empires have gone to great lengths to convince us that power, sacredness, and control live in a distant capital or kingdom upon a throne reserved for others. But these narratives are all about controlling us, sowing the seeds of followership, and distracting us from the kingdom within.

Each of us is a king, a queen.

Each of us is divine royalty.

Each of us holds within us a piece of the sacred power of the Universe.

The Sioux tribes of the northern plains have long understood that everything that exists is related and connected. All that we see is comprised of the same stardust, from the same creation source.

It thus stands to reason that if anything is sacred, everything is sacred.

If everything is sacred, we are sacred. You are sacred.

Organizations of the future should honor the sacredness of each individual. As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “The strength of the pack is the wolf.” Only when each individual on a team or within a community is thriving can the tribe be truly whole and strong.

Across the entirety of 2021 I intend to share a series of essays dedicated to releasing the sacred that dwells within us all. These writings will explore new (yet ancient) narratives about personal power, self-actualization, and shared leadership. We need to reset the templates for viewing ourselves and the organizations we belong to if we are to create meaningful change in both our personal paths and our shared global human course.

These transcendental paradigms will hopefully help bring us back to what each one of us can most influence, elevate, celebrate, and control—ourselves.

The twenty-first century is about awakening at the individual level and awakening we are. But awakening is an arduous journey, and it requires two commitments from all who pursue it:

First, I will create change by looking inward, not outward. I shall become what I seek in the world.

Second, I will live in a loving manner that empowers others to also look within and embrace the essence of who they authentically are.

If all of this seems too whimsical or philosophical, don’t fret. We’re going to keep it real. We’re going to keep it grounded. You can build a family, community, school, company, country, or planet around this stuff! Remember, at my core I’m just a lumber company guy from Maine. I have seen firsthand how dispersed power and respect for all voices can reinvent capitalism and produce collective good. The formula is simple: The whole excels by honoring the well-being of its individual parts.

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.

____________________

This is the second in a series of short essays to be posted by Kevin to www.thebusinessofsharedleadership.com in 2021. Kevin is dedicating these writings in honor of Black Elk, the Oglala Sioux holy man who was escorted as a child on a sacred vision quest by the 48 horses of the four directions to visit the six Grandfathers. My horses, prancing they are coming. They will dance; may you behold them. On that journey Black Elk understood the sacred power that dwelled within him and lives within us all. He also recognized that this power could be used for good or bad. Intentional we must be about the path we walk. To invite others to join The Business of Shared Leadership and receive these posts, just pass this link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become! Thank you!



2021: JOIN ME ON AN IDEA-SHARING ADVENTURE

Hello! In the spring of this year I am publishing my next book! 48 WHISPERS from Pine Ridge and the Northern Plains is a hybrid of sorts. First, it’s a photography book featuring full-page photos that I have taken at Pine Ridge, the Black Hills, and across the plains. Second, it’s a personal and organizational development journal of hope containing 48 thoughts which I describe as “whispers.” Each whisper is exactly 248 words in length and honors an idea meant to spark personal growth, organizational excellence, and social harmony. The book will be available for pre-order soon and I will let you know when that time comes!

In the meantime, I’m inviting you to join me on an idea-sharing adventure! In support of my upcoming book (48WHISPERS) I intend to write a series of short essays honoring the sanctity and potential of the individual human spirit. There is a divine light that dwells within us all and my inspiration in my work and writing is to help bring that ‘spark’ to the forefront of our lives.

I would like to share these essays with you. To receive them click the “Together” icon!

One click will link you to my sign-up form and ensure that you receive this series of writings designed to advance self-actualization and promote respect for all voices.

The organizational structure of human society was long ago designed to compel us to look EXTERNALLY for direction, solutions, leadership, and control. This has been an intentional exercise and has produced an empire-centric view of our world. Employees exist to serve their company, followers, their church, and citizens, their state. These institutions have done some good through their centralization of power but they have also done some bad. Regardless, in virtually all cases, the common denominator is that the individual is advertently made small before the capital, the kingdom, and the crown. True power, we’ve been taught, lives “out there,” beyond our reach.

I’m interested in flipping that script. The goal is not to eliminate human institutions but rather to refocus them on dispersing power, not collecting it. The salvation we seek requires looking inward. The real power source of humanity lives dispersed and WITHIN us all. Each of us is a spark of divine light, a never-to-be-repeated gift. Institutions should exist to celebrate and accelerate self-actualization at an individual level. A great company, therefore, should serve, honor, and ignite the talents of the people who work there.

The twenty-first century has the potential to mark the ascension of decentralized power, but for that to happen, the traditional model of leadership and followership must be reinvented. My upcoming book and supporting online essays are dedicated to pursuing this goal.

Here’s an early look at the back cover of the book, which contains the titles of each whisper. This will give you a sense of the ideas 48 WHISPERS contemplates and explores:

48 WHISPERS – Back Cover

My first essay will be released soon so click the “Together” link and join me in the conversation. To invite others, just pass the link along. The more who join, the deeper the energy field of engagement will become!

My outreach to you is dedicated to the advancement of a single question:

What if everyone on Earth felt trusted, respected, valued, and heard?

What might change?

I think it could be everything.

Many blessings to you.

 

 

—Kevin Hancock

 

* * *
Thank you for considering my thoughts. In return I honor yours. Every voice matters. Between our differences lies our future.



My New Year’s wish is that everybody on Earth would feel trusted, respected, valued, and heard!

Hello and Happy New Year!

Wishing you and your family a safe and fun holiday!  Looking forward to 2021!

Across 2020 I participated in nearly 100 “events” (podcasts, articles, talks, interviews) hoping to advance the concepts of

EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT – SHARED LEADERSHIP – DISPERSED POWER – and RESPECT FOR ALL VOICES.

My goal is to help change the mission of work in America.  Work should be meaningful for the people who do it.

The archives of these events are available on my website.

Click here if you have a chance over the holiday weekend! 




Finding Center and Voice Through All the Noise

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Enlightenment of Change host Connie Whitman about his journey to finding a new business model and leadership style. Kevin firmly believes that developing people, listening to their ideas, and empowering them to make decisions is one of the most important things a workplace can do for their employees. He integrated an employee-centric business model at Hancock Lumber, allowing the leadership responsibilities to be shared by every employee. He fosters a safe and respectful place for ideas and solutions to be made at the employee level instead of consolidating power at the top. He shares how this has affected the business and the engagement and satisfaction levels of his employees, and finishes by sharing that this practice is for any community, not just the workplace.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • At Pine Ridge, I met an entire community that felt marginalized, pushed to the side and not really authentically heard. And that really made me realize that there are lots of ways for humans to lose a piece of their voice in this world. (5:50-6:11)
  • What is indigenous wisdom? Well, in my view, it’s available to us all, but to acquire it, you have to live intimately with nature. When you look at communities that lived intimately with nature, the sun, the moon, the sky, the resources, you end up becoming in sync with nature’s most fundamental rules. That, in my view, is the essence of indigenous wisdom. (19:54-20:25)
  • So I did feel like, well, if someone from a bit of a higher profile position of leadership was willing to dump their entire soul out and share it, that might help give permission and safety for others to do the same. That for me is the real essence of that journey and this book. (32:36-33:02)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Learning to Disperse Power in the Age of Shared Leadership

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks to ACE Virtual Breakfast Program Series hosts Jerry Johnson and Tom Renehan about how businesses can enhance the lives of their employees. Kevin gives ideas on how this can be done, and what he has done to change the culture of Hancock Lumber to become one that fosters shared leadership. He also speaks about how, by creating employee centric companies, improvement of the employee experience causes a ripple effect to everything around the company. He shares how he came to these philosophies and how they can be applied to any community, not just the workplace.

Click here to watch the full video.




The Seventh Power

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Bregman Leadership Podcast host Peter Bregman about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership and the leadership style he adopted from his findings. Kevin has integrated an employee-centric culture into Hancock Lumber, highlighted by the importance of everybody partaking in a leadership role. By empowering others to lead, Kevin has been able to foster a safe space for ideas to be implemented and challenges overcome. The results for the business have been astounding, but Kevin ensures to speak about how any community can benefit from this interconnectivity and shared leadership practice.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • What struck me after months and months of answering a question with a question, was people already knew what to do. This is what really got me thinking differently about leadership. They didn’t actually need a top-down, management-centric directive to the vast majority of questions and challenges that they faced during the course of a workday. They already knew what to do. All they really needed was the confidence and the courage to trust their own judgment and voice, and a safe work culture to know that it would be okay to make a mistake or have something they chose to do not go perfectly. (11:40-12:33)
  • But what we’ve found is that if people feel they aren’t being included in a transparent, authentic process of making decisions, that they are much more apt to support those outcomes. Our safety director is fond of saying that people support that, which they help to create. So we’ve actually seen by having authentic dialogue, is the discipline to core systems and best practices actually improves. It doesn’t weaken or fray, it actually strengths. (17:07 -17:47)
  • The truth is, great people are everywhere. There’s a sacred light that dwells within us all. Everyone has value to contribute and the ability to lead. The idea is to turn the corporation inside out. In the old model, employees were commodities that sacrificed and served the organization. In the new model, the organization becomes a conduit for serving individuals within a company. For example, self-actualization, one employee at a time becomes the goal. Profit, while enhanced is now the outcome of a higher purpose. (20:05-20:39)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Election day is finally here and with it I have one wish and one promise…

Election day is finally here and with it I have one wish and one promise…

MY WISH… and hope… is that all 565 of us who work at Hancock Lumber VOTE (or have voted)!  That’s your voice / our voice in action!

MY PROMISE… While every election is important, America will neither be SAVED nor DESTROYED by today’s outcome.

SO… If the outcome doesn’t go your way- it’s not the end of civilization as we know it.

Conversely, if the outcome does go as you hope – remember that nearly half of all Americans wanted something different.

ULTIMATELY…America is defined by what happens at our houses not the White House.

320,200,000 people live in America.

2 live in the White House.

320,199,998 American’s do NOT live in the White House.

What the 320,199,998 do with our daily lives is what determines the fate of America no matter who is elected! That’s the Seventh Power…




Kevin Hancock on What Matters Most Podcast

Kevin Hancock joins What Matters Most host Paul Samuel Dolman to speak about his shared leadership philosophy. They speak about how CEOs and other leaders might elegantly break down the planet’s entrenched, top-down governance model in favor of a new playbook for heightened human engagement, hallmarked by shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices.

The What Matters Most podcast covers a wide range of topics and hosts an array of industry influencers and world leaders.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • So when I put the two experiences together, my own voice experience, and then my time at Pine Ridge, I really concluded, unfortunately, that across time leaders had probably done more limit and restrict the voices of others, than to liberate or empower them. And that’s what got me really thinking about a new model that did just the opposite. That strengthened the voices of others and shared the opportunities and responsibilities of leadership. (05:59-06:36)
  • So I’ve really changed my thinking on what it means to give back to society. And I think what it means, is actually turning inward and focusing on bringing forth your very best authentic self. It’s that whole idea of knowing what makes you light up. And following that light. And that is when we give the most back to the world around us. So done correctly in the 21st century, I would say that being selfish is selfless. That it’s time for everyone to really serve themselves and make themselves strong as the pathway to be inspirational and valuable and supportive to others. (21:14-22:10)
  • Simply, I think – and this is somewhat in a Lakota or Sioux or indigenous perspective – that seeking is the biggest step in finding. And I think today, if to the extent people are not finding their own voice or their own identity or their own passions, it’s just because they aren’t looking hard enough. I think it’s really about making yourself a bigger priority and believing that you can only become exponentially more valuable to others by primarily focusing on your own voice. (23:46-24:37)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Leaders of Lumber: Kevin Hancock

In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks about how important company culture and sharing leadership are at Hancock Lumber. Kevin explains how his journey to Pine Ridge opened his eyes to how narrow his leadership focus was. He was the largest voice in the room and after losing his voice, he could no longer be the same. When Kevin began opening the floor to other voices, he found a significant change in the way the company was able to operate.

“When a company is safe, people will relax and focus on helping the organization improve. The politics, the fear, and the distrust simply dissolve. Ego dissolves as well. People are allowed to just be themselves.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




ProDealer Industry Summit Presentation 2020

Kevin Hancock shares a keynote speech with the ProDealer Industry Summit in October 2020. In this presentation, Kevin highlights the importance of culture in the workplace, stressing that it is what makes the difference between companies and performance.

The ProDealer Industry Summit is an exclusive three-day educational forum designed to promote the growth of lumber & building product dealers, distributors, wholesalers, and the manufacturers who supply them. LBM dealers will benefit from sharing insights and best practices from industry leaders.

Click here to watch the full keynote video.




Five Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society

In this interview, Kevin Hancock reflects upon how traditional views of leadership have caused disruption, inequality, and misrepresentation throughout history. “Leaders of established organizations have often ‘over-reached.’ By this, I mean that those with the most power often abuse it and go too far.” He goes on to say that the quest for equality and diversity depend in part upon a change in leadership style, to one where voices are heard and respected. At the end of the article, Kevin is asked to share his five steps to help create a new style of society.

#1. Make peace within yourself. 

#2. Recognize that social change requires everyone to make a move. 

#3. Listen for understanding, not judgment.

#4. Rethink ‘winning.’ 

#5. Change the world right beside you. 

Click here to read the full article.




The Inventions Show EP10: Kevin Hancock, CEO Hancock Lumber

I wanted to take a moment to share a recent podcast I participated in on The Inventions Show with host Tack Lee. Here is his excerpt from our chat: Live with your heart not just your head with Kevin Hancock, a sixth-generation family CEO of Hancock Lumber, one of the oldest companies in America which dates back to 1848. An extraordinary leader who is also an award-winning author and speaker. Simply Inspirational and transformational. Kevin shares his incredible journey of self discovery after being diagnosed with a rare neurological condition that made speaking difficult. How he had to think differently and reinvent leadership through dispersing of power. His mission to strengthen the voice of others and come into their own true voice.

Click here to watch the video podcast.




THE ECONOMICS OF PLACATING CHINA & MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATIONS SELECTIVE APPROACH TO SOCIAL JUSTICE

So the article copied below fascinates me. I’ve been on this theme for a while but have not really known how to approach it. I’m trying to reconcile the following dichotomy – there are lots of American based multi-national corporations that want to lead for social justice in THIS country (which is great) BUT won’t touch the subject of social justice in China. The NBA caught my attention on this earlier in the year when the entire league refused to speak out for social justice for the people of Hong Kong…and now there is Disney with its latest movie – Mulan (the remade / non-animated version).

We watched the new Mulan as a family about a week ago. We all left feeling it was ‘ok’ and ‘oddly generic’ in the subject matter it approached and avoided. When a friend of mine sent me this article below from Jeff Jacoby of The Boston Globe – the ‘plainness’ of the movie came clear. You might give Jacoby’s article below a read and see what you think.

Here’s where I have landed – multinational corporations NEED China economically AND advocating for social justice in China will NOT help your cause so they don’t. Your economic success in the massive Chinese market depends in large part upon the Chinese Communist Party’s satisfaction with your behavior and messaging. In America advocating for social justice is seen as good for business – so they pretty much all do it.

I love advancing social justice in America. The only thing better, to me, would be to advance social justice globally but companies won’t take those risks. Corporate involvement in ‘social justice’ is still often a calculated business decision and until we get beyond that we will only be in limited and selective pursuit of a cause that should apply to everyone.

To do business with China you must placate China and I’m not sure if this current reality of this global economic phenomenon has yet been called into the light.

 

 

Kevin Hancock
www.kevindhancock.com

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Disney Thanks the Dictators by Jeff Jacoby

I don’t subscribe to Disney Plus. But even if I did I wouldn’t spend $29.99 to view Disney’s ballyhooed remake of “Mulan.”

According to critics who have seen it, the $200 million picture is a mediocre piece of moviemaking. It reflects “a timid and studied thematic emptiness, an avoidance of any specific ideas or questions that might upset anyone, anywhere, at all,” writes Reason’s Peter Suderman. “Mulan fights for honor, for family, for finding herself and owning her power, which is to say she fights for vague and inoffensive banalities.” In the Wall Street Journal, critic Joe Morgenstern calls it “earnest, often clumsy and notably short on joy,” and concludes that “the film as a whole lacks the clarity of its animated predecessor, not to mention the earlier version’s gleeful showmanship, gorgeous design, and vastly wider emotional range.” Joshua Rivera, reviewing “Mulan” for The Verge , says it “feels like an anticlimax. . . . [It is] merely a serviceable film that’s rather easy to forget.”

The real problem with “Mulan,” however, isn’t its artistic failings, but its moral callousness.

Unlike Disney’s 1998 original, a key theme of which was self-determination and personal freedom, the remake heavily emphasizes the virtue of loyalty to family and community. In China, where the movie is set, loyalty is also a heavily stressed value — loyalty to the state and to the ruling Communist Party. It is not by coincidence that the new “Mulan” reinforces a doctrine so important to the Chinese dictatorship: Disney collaborated with Chinese authorities in making the film.

The company “worked closely with China’s government, all the while striving to present a main character and story line faithful to Chinese values,” reported the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. “To avoid controversy and guarantee a China release, Disney shared the script with Chinese authorities while consulting with local advisers.”

There is no indication that anyone connected with the movie objected to toeing China’s Communist Party line. When pro-democracy protesters were being brutally assaulted in Hong Kong last year, the star of the new movie, Chinese-born American actress Liu Yifei, publicly supported the security police suppressing the protests . That was appalling. But it was nothing compared to the discovery that “Mulan” was filmed within hailing distance of China’s Uighur concentration camps, and that in the credits at the end of the film, Disney thanks China’s rulers for the privilege.

Those credits, wrote Isaac Stone Fish in The Washington Post, are “the most devastating” thing about the movie:

Disney filmed “Mulan” in regions across China (among other locations). In the credits, Disney offers a special thanks to more than a dozen Chinese institutions that helped with the film. These include four Chinese Communist Party propaganda departments in the region of Xinjiang as well as the Public Security Bureau of the city of Turpan in the same region — organizations that are facilitating crimes against humanity. It’s sufficiently astonishing that it bears repeating: Disney has thanked four propaganda departments and a public security bureau in Xinjiang, a region in northwest China that is the site of one of the world’s worst human rights abuses happening today.

More than a million Muslims in Xinjiang, mostly of the Uighur minority, have been imprisoned in concentration camps. Some have been released. Countless numbers have died. Forced sterilization campaigns have caused the birth rate in Xinjiang to plummet roughly 24 percent in 2019 — and “ imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” fits within the legally recognized definition of genocide. Disney, in other words, worked with regions where genocide is occurring, and thanked government departments that are helping to carry it out. . . .

Why did Disney need to work in Xinjiang? It didn’t. There are plenty of other regions in China, and countries around the world, that offer the starkly beautiful mountain scenery present in the film. But in doing so, Disney helps normalize a crime against humanity.

So what else is new? For years, Disney and other studios have kowtowed to Beijing, subtly and not-so-subtly adjusting the content of their movies to satisfy the demands of the world’s foremost communist regime. In a recent report , PEN America, a nearly 100-year-old organization that champions human rights and fights against threats to freedom of expression, condemned Hollywood studios for “increasingly making decisions about their films — the content, casting, plot, dialogue, and settings — based on an effort to avoid antagonizing Chinese officials who control whether their films gain access to the booming Chinese market.”

There are numerous ways in which Hollywood “compromises on free expression,” says PEN:

[C]hanging the content of films intended for international — including American — audiences; engaging in self-censorship; agreeing to provide a censored version of a movie for screening in China; and in some instances directly inviting Chinese government censors onto their film sets to advise them on how to avoid tripping the censors’ wires. . . . Steadily, a new set of mores has taken hold in Hollywood, one in which appeasing Chinese government investors and gatekeepers has simply become a way of doing business.

Needless to say, US moviemakers have no hesitation about portraying American leaders, attitudes, or history in unflattering ways. In PEN’s trenchant observation,

Hollywood enjoys a reputation as a place uncowed by Washington, and one that is often gleefully willing to speak truth to American political power. This reputation contrasts strangely but silently with Hollywood’s increasing acceptance of the need to conform to Beijing’s film dictates.

Disney and other studios are private companies, free under the Constitution to promote any message they like. But their willingness to truckle to Chinese censors has a terrible impact on the freedom of others.

Beijing’s influence over Hollywood . . . cannot be ethically decoupled from the Chinese government’s practices of suppressing freedom of expression at home. Beijing enforces one of the world’s most restrictive censorship systems, in which films and other creative endeavors are subject to a strict process of pre-publication review by the State. China’s media is similarly under state control. . . . Vast categories of protected expression are criminalized, with peaceful dissidents serving years-long jail terms for their critical speech.

Independent civil society does not exist within mainland China, and the country’s Great Firewall represents the world’s most advanced and expansive system of digital censorship. In the areas of Tibet and Xinjiang, the repression of civil rights is breathtakingly severe; in Xinjiang especially, it is no exaggeration to say that millions of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities are in detention camps or jail because the government has essentially criminalized their cultural and religious expression in the region. . . . Beijing’s imposition of near-total barriers to access for Western reporters in those regions, meanwhile, helps ensure that this narrative is unchallenged.

In short, the Chinese government works tirelessly to ensure that the only stories told within China are ones that it specifically approves. Beijing’s influence over Hollywood is part of this work.

So when Disney goes out of its way to thank Chinese government propaganda agencies and the public security department in Xinjiang, anyone with a functioning conscience should be nauseated. Disney’s Chinese partners in the making of “Mulan” are literally engaged in genocide and its attendant atrocities. For a parallel, imagine a Hollywood blockbuster filmed in 1930s Germany that made a point of thanking the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment in the on-screen credits.

Once, Disney had more backbone. In 1996, the studio produced “Kundun,” a movie about the life of the Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, the Dalai Lama is reviled by the Chinese government, which routinely blackens his reputation and has made it a crime even to display his photograph. Beijing was enraged that Disney had made the movie, and vehemently insisted that it not be released.

But in those days, Disney knew how to face down communist dictators. It announced that the movie would be shown in the United States as planned, China’s threats notwithstanding. “We have an agreement to distribute ‘Kundun’ domestically,” Disney’s spokesman said, “and we intend to honor it.”

When China retaliated by restricting Disney’s access to China, however, the company abruptly shed the backbone it had briefly grown. “We made a stupid mistake in releasing ‘Kundun,’” then-CEO Michael Eisner told Premier Zhu Rongji in October 1998.

“The bad news is that the film was made; the good news is that nobody watched it,” Eisner added. “Here I want to apologize, and in the future we should prevent this sort of thing, which insults our friends, from happening.”

To repeat: Such bootlicking should nauseate anyone with a working conscience.

Maybe Disney has no qualms about its open and shameless collaboration with the brutes of Beijing, but the rest of us should. Don’t reward that collaboration with your dollars. Boycott “Mulan.”




Interview with Kevin Hancock, President & CEO of Hancock Lumber

In this video, Kevin speaks to The Inventions Show host Tack Lee about how he reinvented the way leadership is dispersed and shared at Hancock Lumber. Kevin and Tack discuss how he came to this leadership model in depth, as well as what it means for the employees, the customers, and the company. By dispersing leadership and power to everyone in the company, Kevin aims to enhance employee engagement and facilitate finding self-actualization. He also discusses how the company has handled this change and the path he sees for the future.

Click here to watch the full video.




Strengthening Through Listening

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Create What You Speak host Sloane Freemont about the leadership style he implemented at Hancock Lumber where everyone leads and power is dispersed. By sharing the leadership responsibility with many instead of consolidating at the top of the organization, Kevin is helping strengthen the unique voices of his employees and helping them gain confidence in themselves and their ideas. He tells Sloane about the journey he undertook to find this new leadership style and how the business has been affected by the changes. He also discusses how this is a model that is built for any type of community and does not have to be limited to a business setting.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • So picture this age-old setting, someone comes up to me at work because I’m the CEO or one of the “bosses” with a question or a problem. Normally I would have given a directive and an answer and an instruction. And now I started simply saying, “Well, that is a good question. What do you think we should do about it?” And while at first that was just a move to protect my voice, what really struck me over time was simply this, people already knew what to do. When I gave them the opportunity to respond, I found that they already knew what to do. They didn’t need a top-down kind of leadership directive after all. What they really needed was kind of permission and safety and encouragement to trust and follow their own voice. (04:40-05:41)
  • And I really ultimately came to see my own voice condition as a bit of an invitation to strengthen the voices of others. (06.41-06.52)
  • Yeah. And I think in the modern age, in which we live, we’ve really got to rethink the very meaning of winning to your point. We all grew up or read history, or you think about the Roman Colosseum, it was a kill or be killed or sports to win you have to defeat someone else, but I think in the modern world where we’re all so connected where the world has become so flat and we really are a single human tribe, we’ve got to change the definition of winning. And the simple way I like to talk about it now is winning Isn’t winning unless everybody’s winning. [24:45-25:32]

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




The Power of Shared Leadership in Business

In this video series, Kevin Hancock speaks to Fire It Up With CJ host CJ Liu about his journey to a business culture where everybody leads, managing a business through the COVID pandemic, and his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. They discuss the sustainability of an employee-centric business model and how a company of Hancock Lumber’s size fares in this environment. Kevin finishes their discussion by sharing that empowering the voices of others and listening to their authentic voice is not just for business, but it is a movement that can happen in any community.

Click here to watch the video series.




COVID Response Strategies

The Wall Street Journal 8/24/2020 Article “New Thinking on Covid Lockdowns: They’re Overly Blunt and Costly”

This is the most thoughtful, data driven, reflective, and objective considerations of potential strategic responses designed to achieve maximum and balanced health, economic, and social salvation from COVID that I have read. –Kevin Hancock

  • “400 million jobs have been lost world wide.”
  • “We are on the cusp of an economic catastrophe. We can avoid the worst of that catastrophe by being disciplined.” – James Stock. Harvard economist.
  • “The economic pain from the pandemic mostly comes not from sick people but from healthy people trying not to get sick.”
  • “There have been few attempts to truly define the goal.”
  • “Nursing homes account for 0.6% of the population but 45% of Covid fatalities. Better isolating those residents would have saved many lives at little economic cost.”
  • “By contrast, fewer children have died this year from COVID-19 than from flu.”
  • “And studies in Sweden, where most schools stayed open, and the Netherlands, where they reopened in May, found teachers at no greater risk than the overall population.”
  • “If schools don’t reopen until next January, McKinsey & Co. estimates, low-income children will have lost a year of education, which it says translates into 4% lower lifetime earnings.”
  • “Bars, restaurants, and casinos accounted for 32% of infections traced in Louisiana.”
  • “Masks may be the most effective intervention of all.”

The thesis is that more targeted strategies would have saved / and still have the potential to save / more lives AND simultaneously create far less social and economic disruption.

This article was refreshing because, for me, it transcended politics. When was the last time you over-heard or participated in a non-political / calm / rational discussion of potential COVID management strategies with data and balance for all priorities? When I realized a couple months ago that our national Covid response would be the primary campaign debate theme in November I knew it would result in polarized thought limitations. Winning strategies usually reside in the gray middle but our politics live on the extremes and it’s costly.




Be the Change That You Wish to See in the World

In this interview with Thrive Global, Kevin Hancock shares the story about how he came to visit Pine Ridge for the first time and the life lessons he learned along the way. Kevin’s shared leadership and voice empowerment ideas have helped him create a new employee-centric model for Hancock Lumber. Kevin realized there are a lot of ways for people to lose their voice, but he is determined to create a company where every employee is heard.

Click here to read the full article.




Unstoppable: How Kevin Hancock of Hancock Lumber was Able to Thrive Despite Spasmodic Dysphonia

In this interview, Kevin Hancock talks about how he was able to find positivity and strength through his diagnosis of Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD). By changing his mindset and prospective, Kevin was able to see his diagnosis as a gift which allowed him to begin listening to the ideas of others. When he began listening, he heard ideas that showed him that each employee had the capability of being a leader. His leadership style became one that fostered the growth of others.

Click here to read the full article.




Leadership & Americas Oldest Private Company

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Success Stories host Scott D. Clary about the leadership style he has implemented at Hancock Lumber. He shares how he developed this shared leadership philosophy and the impact it has had on his employees and the business itself. He believes that every voice should be heard, trusted, and respected, and that by sharing the leadership responsibility better ideas are born. Kevin also talks about how this impacts employee engagement, job satisfaction, self worth, and how people feel about the company they work for. He finishes by talking about what he hopes the future holds, both for the company and for the world.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • So I kind of stumbled upon this idea, and then really got serious about how a company would institutionalize a structure of dispersed power and shared leadership, where everyone felt like they had a voice. So we went to work really re-setting our core systems to be more inclusive, and to create more space for dialogue. Essentially, patience for process so that everyone could have an opportunity to participate in discussions around the most important choices the company was making. And we learned pretty quickly that the real key to making that work was to change the purpose and nature of listening. (08:46- 09:53)
  • People are much more apt to support that which they’ve helped to create. So in this period where we’ve tried to create space for all voices to lead, our efficiencies improved dramatically, our accuracy has improved dramatically, our rework has gone down, our productivity has gone up, and the company’s performance really took off. I’ll put it in perspective this way, we ended up earning more money, the company, from 2010 to 2020, then we did from 1848 to 2009. (11:24-I2:13)
  • So I could spend 65 hours a week at work, but this would not make me a better human or a better manager. The purpose of work is to support, not thwart, the meaning of life. Companies must create pay systems, work schedules, and human missions, that put time back into the hands of employees. The objective is to help everyone get out of their lane and to broaden their lives. (17:59-18:17)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Rethinking Employee Off-boarding

In this article, Kevin writes about how employee off-boarding can be a different process when the company’s culture is one that fosters personal growth and shares leadership. Human Resources professionals should rework their thoughts to maximize the well-being of those employed at the company. Instead of treating an off-boarded employee as someone to close a folder on, HR can take a role of helping facilitate finding a more engaging and meaningful transition.

“The fact that a specific job was not an optimal fit for an individual potentially now becomes something to honor and celebrate. ‘Ok, so we’ve found an occupation that does not energize you or leave you with a deep sense of fulfillment. This is progress, not failure. Let’s seize this moment to think about what types of work experiences might captivate you.'” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




The Day That Changed Everything

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to MaineBiz publisher Donna Brassard about how losing his voice changed everything in a day. He shares how he overcame this challenge and created a fruitful new leadership style from the lessons he learned. Kevin began sharing the leadership role with everyone at Hancock Lumber and found that great ideas were everywhere and people knew how to solve the problems in their daily lives. By empowering them to make the changes they needed, employee engagement and job satisfaction spiked. Kevin shares how he hopes other business and communities can learn from his new leadership style and more authentic voices can be brought into the light.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • The idea is to put more power and control in the hands of the very people on the front lines of the business, who are doing the work and who know their area of the business best. So in that approach, management’s job really becomes a function of learning how to listen and making it safe for people to say what they actually think. My biggest wish for any organization would be that it’s safe for people to say what they think. 14:18-14:59
  • Leaders have done more to limit, restrict, intimidate or direct the voices of others than to free them. (17:59-18:12)
  • I think the purpose of work should be do advance the lives of the people who do it. Work should be meaningful to the people who do it. And if a company focuses on creating an exceptional work experience, one of the outcomes will be the employees will take great care of the company. So this approach will actually improve corporate performance. (23:06-23:34)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Dispersing Power and Strengthening the Voices of Others

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Human Capital Innovations host Jonathan H. Westover, PhD about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. They discuss how the work culture Kevin has fostered at Hancock Lumber has created an environment where every voice is heard, trusted, and respected. By doing so, this empowers the voices of others and creates a heightened level of employee engagement and job satisfaction. Kevin also talks about how this can be used in any community setting, and discusses how it would change the future to see more areas where everybody leads.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • In nature, power is dispersed. That secret sauce, that sacred energy of the universe, actually lives in all its parts and pieces. And humans, w ho are apart of nature not separate from it, I believe ultimately want to organize in this way. And in the 21st century, in the query and age, I think this is where you see the disconnect. So people are awakening to their own sacred power as individuals. But institutions are still often locked in this past-based approach to leadership, which is about collecting power to the center, having a few speak for the many, and taking a bureaucratic approach to get things done. And while that model might have been the dominant model for centuries looking backward, I do not believe it’s going to be the dominant model going forward. (08:55-10:08)
  • So if work becomes a place where everyone can kind of self-actualize, can test their skills, can come to know their own identity and can feel safe doing so, then work starts to become a really important social tool, not just an economic tool. I’ve really, to take that one step further, come to think very differently about the mission or purpose of work. I think that the economic results are an important outcome. Outcome, of a higher calling. And I think that higher calling is that work should be meaningful to the people who do it. (13:36-14:28)
  • But I had a gentlemen show me one day when I was at Pine Ridge, that the center of the wheel, those who know the old ways, he told me, know that seventh power also exists. And that seventh power is you. It’s me. It’s the individual human spirit. Which is of nature, of the universe, of the sacred spirit. However you want to think about it. And that every individual is a piece of the divine. So the real task in social justice and in rethinking organizational excellence, is about giving away from the bureaucracy, getting away from the monolith, getting away from the empire, and putting the focus back on the individual and helping individuals understand and tap into their own power.(28:34-29:39)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Recent Press Updates: Featuring The Seventh Power

Hello! Just sharing the following podcast and op-ed piece that I wrote on the importance of shared leadership, dispersed power, and respect for all voices. If you like them, please share!
Thank you,

 

 

  • The Enlightenment for Change interview with Connie Whitman was one of my favorite podcasts to date! Connie was a great host–our discussion was deep and really fun.

 

 

 




The Seventh Power- Shared Leadership

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Financially Speaking host Mitch Slater about the effects of the COVID pandemic on Hancock Lumber and how he came to reinvent the way leadership is dispersed within the company. He shares the journey he undertook that led him to the realization that in nature, power is dispersed. By dispersing power and leadership, engagement is heightened and confidence grows. At Hancock Lumber, Kevin hopes that by sharing the leadership burden, employees will find new ways to learn, grow, and begin to self-actualize. He finishes by sharing how the company has handled the transition and where he sees the future leading.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.




Ninety Days in the Heart of America

In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about how the COVID pandemic showed how American citizens unified, persevered, and took control of their safety measures. Instead of chaos, America unified and was able to work together to save lives and slow the spread. Kevin also touches on how the coronavirus was not the only sickness Americans battled in the spring of 2020. He notes that an old foe, racism, was also magnified. To truly repair, rebuild, and move from racist systems, people must become leaders.

Click here to read the full article.




A Lesson in Leadership From the CEO of One of America’s Oldest Companies

In this interview, Kevin Hancock is asked specifically about his leadership style and how it differs from others. They also speak about how important your authentic voice is and why it is important to listen without judgment. Kevin highlights the importance of hearing voices besides your own, especially as a leader. By engaging others, their voice can start to be heard and they can become leaders as well.

Click here to read the full article.




Managing Less, Not More

In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about the challenges of training managers and supervisors to manage and supervise less. After realizing that in nature power is dispersed, Kevin uses these experiences to change the operational strategy of Hancock Lumber. By encouraging every employee to lead, the managers and supervisors would not be managing and supervising the same amount as before. He shares the strategies and tactics used to shift the organization from one model to another and the results he has seen so far.

Click here to read the full article.




The 7th Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership After a Rare Voice Disorder

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with The Quiet Warrior Show host Tom Dutta about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. They begin by talking about Kevin’s trip to Pine Ridge. They also discuss the new leadership style implemented at Hancock Lumber, transforming the company culture into one where everyone at the company has power, is encouraged to lead, and can openly discuss ideas. He talks about how the culture has been received and the ways that the company has flourished.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And I really got focused for the first time in a long time on my own identity, beyond my roles and really got to see my role as a CEO for what it was, which was an important role I played, but not the essence of who I was. (6:52-7:14)
  • They didn’t actually need a top-down directive. They just needed encouragement and a safe work culture to trust their judgment. (17:08-17:17)
  • But when you change your mission, you’ve got to develop a whole new set of metrics around how to measure that and a whole new set of systems to make sure everyone has a voice and everyone has the opportunity to share in the responsibilities of leadership, which we’ve been working on now for the better part of a decade. And it’s had a big impact on our performance. But I really, now, talk about that as the outcome of a higher calling, not the ultimate calling, is to be valuable to the lives of these human beings who are working at the company. (11:29-12:12)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Book Review: The Seventh Power

This article is a complete review of Kevin Hancock’s newest book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. Written by Margo Kelly, this review highlights the way leadership lessons are intertwined in the narrative to create an engaging story. Margo shares how she felt Kevin’s writing stimulated her own thoughts and created a dialogue within herself. To summarize Margo’s review, she writes “I LOVE IT!!!”

Click here to read the full article.




6 Ways HR Needs to Evolve Post the COVID-19 Crisis

In this article, editor Puja Lalwani speaks to HR leaders, including Kevin Hancock, about how to evolve after the COVID crisis. In Kevin’s section of this article, they speak about the importance of communication. HR and leadership must communicate in crisis situations, but Kevin takes it one step further.

“Leaders should prioritize authentic, safe, and vulnerable communication with the members of their company or community at all times. The goal is to make it safe for people to express how they actually feel and share what they honestly think. This becomes especially important in a time of crisis, but if that’s not the normal approach, it will be impossible to just ‘turn it on’ conditionally and temporarily.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




Finding Your Authentic Voice

Kevin Hancock joins the Leadership from the Core “Love in Action” podcast with Episode 53, Finding Your Authentic Voice. Host Marcel Schwantes chats with Kevin, who shares his inspirational story of finding purpose in the midst of adversity and re-scripting his definition of leadership as a result. They also discuss his new book, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. Marcel Schwantes is the founder and chief human officer of Leadership from the Core, a global leadership training and executive coaching boutique with one core purpose: to grow profitable and powerful servant leaders through “Love in Action.”

“Leaders who want to create a culture of shared leadership should talk less, sit still more, have faith in their people, and engage their power. The way to get people to pick up more is simply to occupy less. The power of them all leading is just immeasurably greater than anything I could do on my own.”  – Kevin Hancock

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • Because what I found through repeatedly asking this question was lovely. It was Love In Action. What I found was that people already knew what to do. They did not actually need most of the time a CEO manager-direct directive. They knew what to do. What they really needed was encouragement and a safe culture to trust their own voice and to do what they knew was the best thing to do. (08:19-08:53)
  • Everyone has a valuable, powerful, unique, never to be repeated voice. And the best cultural model for an organization is to release those voices, not restrict them. So once people kind of got the idea around the cultural concept of what we wanted to do, everything actually got a lot easier and smoother. And our company’s performance took off, and employee engagement took off, and so I really kind of came to see what happened with me as a hinder or our liability, to actually be a bit of a gift and an invitation to strengthen the voices of others. (10:51-11:44)
  • What struck me at Pine Ridge was I met in an entire community that felt as if a piece of their voice had been taken, or stolen, or was missing, and that they were not fully heard. And the combination of those two events created some really powerful, personal learnings. First, I knew what it was like to not feel heard because of my disorder. And second, at Pine Ridge I realized there were lots of ways for people to lose their voice in this world. And putting two and two together even started to think about the very purpose of a human life on earth and considered maybe it was to self-actualize. Maybe we’re all here just trying to find our unique, never to be repeated voice. (14:01-14:55)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Kevin Hancock: The Seventh Power

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Better Show host Ian Mikutel about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. Kevin and Ian speak about how his new leadership style formed, why companies struggle to disperse power within the organization, and what individuals can do to empower their voice, the voices of others, and learn to share leadership. Kevin also shares how listening affects leadership and that we should strive to listen for understanding instead of judgment. Sharing leadership and understanding the true voice of others is something that Kevin is passionate about everyone learning about and using in their daily lives.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • I think you really start right at the beginning and say, “Well, does leadership matter?” I think you start with that. And I think, particularly right now in these challenging times, I think everyone would agree that I agree that leadership matters. And when you think about the COVID-19 challenge and you ask the question, “Well, who’s going to have to lead on this challenge?” The answer is obvious, everybody. It’s going to take everybody to lead. So I think leadership matters. And I have come to believe that the best way to lead is in a shared way where power is distributed and everyone is helping to lead. (04:40-05:24)
  • The first reason shared leadership is a bit difficult is because humanity has gone through generations upon generations of a different type of leadership model that is built on collecting power to the center. Historically, the way you gained power and lead was by collecting it. And the more you collected, the more control and influence you had. But in the 21st century, that script is not working that well. (06:41-07:24)
  • I’ve come to believe, which is the fun part, that sharing leadership is much easier than not sharing it. Think about it that way. I’ve kind of flipped it inside out. And think about all the structure and control that has to be a place to not share leadership. That’s actually hard to do. Sharing leadership really, when you contemplate it, is easier, it’s intuitive, it benefits everybody, and it’s not a complicated exercise. Collecting leadership is complicated, sharing it is not. (21:32-22:24)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




How to Make Shared Leadership a Reality

Article published in the April 2020 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review.  Click to read complete article

“Having found a piece of my own authentic voice, I wanted to help others do the same, and a lumber company in Maine became an unlikely platform where this could occur. The new goal: create a socially transformative work culture for the 21st century in which employee engagement soars because everyone feels authentically heard.”—Kevin Hancock 

Dispersing power is not hard to do. It’s about learning how to defer to the most fundamental laws of nature. But creating a culture where every voice matters does require discipline and intentionality. Humanity’s modern thirst for deep change is real, but to get there, the established organizational rules must be thoughtfully deconstructed. At Hancock Lumber, deepening employee engagement is our number-one goal. We believe that if we get that right, everything else we care about will materialize. Click to read complete article




Business Community Building: We’re All in it Together

In the Workable article “Business Community Building: We’re All in it Together,” Kevin Hancock is interviewed among other business leaders about the importance of clarity in the COVID-19 pandemic. Kevin speaks about the need of the company to follow the lead of the people connected to it. This unification of employees creates a deep connection. The article goes on to interview others on the same topic, highlighting the strength of togetherness during this unique, difficult time.

To read the full article, click here.




Rhett Power with Kevin Hancock

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks with Power Lunch Live host Rhett Power about his book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. He shares the lessons he learned and how he implemented them into a new leadership style. By dispersing power and leadership throughout the company, Kevin found that employees became more engaged and had a higher level of job satisfaction. When employees became happier, they became better brand ambassadors for Hancock Lumber. Kevin describes how this had led to changes in the business and the personal lives of the employees.

Click here to watch the full video.




Guy’s Guy Radio: Marc Cameron & Kevin Hancock

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Guy’s Guy Radio host Robert Manni about his newest book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. They discuss Kevin’s journey and how he came to find the philosophy that everybody should lead. At Hancock Lumber, Kevin works to create a safe and respectful environment for everyone to discuss their thoughts and lead the team to solutions. This not only increases the confidence in the decision-making process, but it also allows the leadership responsibilities to be spread across many minds and many people. Listening to others allows them to find their authentic voice, which leads to higher employee engagement and job satisfaction levels.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And that’s what I really got excited about. The idea within our own company of creating a culture that gave everybody a voice and made it safe for everyone to say what they actually thought, and to share the responsibility for speaking for the company – because I couldn’t do it myself – and for leading the company. (39:10-39:39)
  • It’s a notion that essentially everyone is capable of leading, and everyone has a voice that’s worth being heard. And that the culture is really what separates organizations. Cultures either collect power to the center and put it in the hands of the few, or those cultures disperse power and strengthen the voices of others. (40:57-41:38)
  • Well, I think the one big thought is to make the employee experience a top priority. That sounds simple, but it’s powerful. Corporations are good at whatever they choose to focus on. So really, the simple act of making the employee experience a top corporate priority, will had a huge impact on improving the employee experience. (43:57-44:29)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




The Culture Hour: Shared Leadership

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks to Premier Rapport Culture Hour host Shelley Smith about his newest book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. He talks about how his leadership style transformed when he lost the use of his voice. By lifting up the voices of others, Kevin can empower their ideas and foster a sense of community. Using this new method of leadership that he realized at Pine Ridge, Kevin is bringing the voices of his employees to the forefront of Hancock Lumber.

Click here to watch the full video.




How to Talk to Your Boss About Your New Work-From-Home Challenges

In this article, Kevin weighs in on how to communicate with your manager about balancing work and family. During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people found themselves working from home and finding the work/life balance very difficult. Kevin highlights that no one is alone in this new struggle. Everyone is in this together and experiencing true disruption. Speaking to your boss about your newfound difficulties is an important part of drawing boundaries.

“Bosses need to hear the truth about what employees are feeling and it’s a disservice to yourself to keep your personal needs on the sideline.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.




Leadership Power is Meant to be Shared and Dispersed

In this article, Kevin Hancock is interviewed about how important sharing leadership power is and why he believes it was meant to be dispersed and shared among the tribe. He cautions against consolidating power, saying that “across time, those who have the most power have often gone too far. Over-reaching ultimately however collapses back upon the people who do it.” 

Kevin’s experiences have brought him to many conclusions, each of which has fostered change in his life.

“Everyone is sacred. Everyone has a unique voice and an essential perspective to share. Leadership is at its best when everybody does it.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




Keep Dreaming, America

In this article, Kevin Hancock reflects on the notion that the American dream is dying. Kevin breaks down the pieces that make up the American dream and evaluates them based upon the previous generation. He compares how he has felt the employees at his company, Hancock Lumber, are achieving their American dream. Finally, he leaves a thought: to gain the American dream, we must win together, dream together, and achieve together.

Click here to read the full article.




Kevin Hancock of Hancock Lumber

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Grow Maine Show host Marty Grohman about his journey to finding the new employee-centric business model at Hancock Lumber. By dispersing the power of leadership to everyone in the company, Kevin found that employee engagement and job satisfaction are heightened to a new level. Employees are encouraged to find solutions to the problems they identify as important and given a safe space to solve them. This level of trust and respect between managers and employees has created a unique work culture. The company has thrived because of it, but Kevin notes that any and all communities are able to foster this type of relationship.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • But long story short, with my voice difficulty, I really ended up seeing, getting forced into initially, and then embracing an opportunity to essentially let everybody speak for the company and got really excited about this idea of, well, why can’t everybody lead? (5:26-5:50)
  • So I guess what I may say in summary is that I think the key is trying to create a culture at work where it’s safe for people to actually say what they think, including difficult times when we’re looking at a situation that didn’t go great. (14:29-14:55)
  • So, that’s one thing I’ve really learned across my career is that you can be really good within your own organization, but there are going to be forces that come to play or to bear that are bigger than you are, and you have got to be agile and change responsive and financially strong in order to constantly be readjusting and reinventing your business. (39:55-40:38)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




7 Signs That Say You Have the Mindset of a Great Leader

Centralized power and decision-making control is out. Shared leadership is in.

To read the full article, click here.



Shared Leadership: Giving a Voice to Others

In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Life As Leadership host Josh Friedeman about leadership and empowering the voices of others. He shares the journey he underwent to finding the employee-centric business model and how sharing the leadership responsibility among everyone at Hancock Lumber has created a flourishing culture and business. By giving others the opportunity to lead, employee engagement and job satisfaction has skyrocketed and problems are being solved by everyone. Kevin speaks about how this can and should be applied to all types of communities and the benefits it creates for all involved.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • And that’s what I really got excited about this idea of, well, my own voice condition might have limited my ability to speak at times, but maybe it was an invitation to strengthen the voices of others. (9:20-9:34)
  • But I think having said that, specifically to your question, the big epiphany or turning point for me was starting to see the business of business as being more than just business. (16:19-16:37)
  • Now, having said that, the other reason I’m such a big believer in that approach is simply to ask oneself who is the human being that you can most influence and that’s self evident as well, that the only person, any of us can really change is ourselves. And I have found that the best way to create change within an organization is to become it. (27:52-28:24)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




This Family Lumber Company Has Survived 11 Major Economic Downturns. Here’s How

Hancock Lumber learned how to sell global and act local.

In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks with Steve Goldberg about the challenges that Hancock Lumber has faced with economic tides since 1848. While looking at the reasons that Hancock Lumber has been able to survive these hard times, he discusses that he recently started looking at the company model differently, putting employees as the priority.

“What I like to say now, to borrow a piece of Maine slang, is that the customer comes a wicked-close second.” – Kevin Hancock

To read the full article, click here.




Seeing The Deeper Lessons of Coronavirus

In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about the lessons that the coronavirus uncovered. He writes about how during the pandemic, people were forced to slow down and begin looking at aspects of their lives that were not normally. By seeing that people are looking inward, Kevin notes that he hopes it will bring a deeper sense of community and connectivity between people, much like what he saw on the Pine Ridge reservation.

Click here to read the full article. 




What is Shared Leadership and What Can It Bring Your Business

In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks with Small Atlanta Business Show host Jim Fitzpatrick about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. They discuss his background and the journey to Pine Ridge. During his time there, Kevin came to the conclusion that in nature power is dispersed. He took the lessons he learned there and brought this shared leadership model to Hancock Lumber.

“I think that a company will perform better when everybody is leading than when just a few hold the decision making responsibility in the center. But my real interest in dispersing power and sharing leadership is bigger than business. It’s about helping every human being self actualize, and come into their own voice, and be confident with and comfortable with their own identity and perspective.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to watch the full video.




An Excerpt From The Seventh Power

This article is an excerpt from Kevin Hancock’s newest book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. It begins with his trip to Kiev, where Kevin is pensive about how millions of humans were sacrificed so that the success of the center might be advanced. It brings about a reflection into his own company and how he hopes to bring about a stronger work/life balance, inner growth and development, and job satisfaction to his employees.

Click here to read the full article.




In Nature, Power Is Dispersed

In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about how he came to the understanding that in nature, power is dispersed. He discusses how this simple notion changed everything he based his company around and how he sees the world. By dispersing power, everyone can become a leader. Kevin also explains how he ended up taking his spiritual journey to the Pine Ridge reservation and took walks in the desert.

Click here to read the full article. 




Culture Makes The Difference

Article by Kevin Hancock, published in March 2020 on the Young Upstarts website. Young Upstarts is an online business resource for startup entrepreneurs, small business owners, idea people, and intrapreneurs seeking change within their organization.

What differentiates companies?  It’s generally not products, services, facilities, or equipment. Years ago, I would have said it was people who make the difference and separate companies. But I have come to realize that’s not the whole story. Certain companies may think they have the ‘best people’, but the truth is, great people are everywhere — the planet is filled with them. So, if products don’t make the difference, and great people are everywhere, then what separates one organization from another?

The answer is culture. Culture makes the difference. An organization’s culture either creates an environment where great people can flourish, or an environment where people are frustrated, held back, or stymied.

Click here to read the full article.




Culture Makes the Difference

In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about how company culture plays a significant role in differentiating one business from another. To Kevin, culture is fostered heavily by who controls the power of the entity. If the power is consolidated at the top, employees may begin to feel unheard and easily replaced. In cultures where leadership and power is dispersed, employees begin finding their true voice and feel a higher level of engagement and satisfaction.

“Work should serve the people who do it in more than just economic ways. Work should be a place where humans flourish—where people learn, lead, and grow. If the employees of a company have an exceptional experience, they will ensure that customers thrive and will protect and grow their company with loyalty and pride.” – Kevin Hancock

Click here to read the full article.




If Everyone’s Voice Was Heard, What Might Change?

Kevin Hancock appears on the b Cause podcast with host Erin Hatzikostas. In this podcast, Kevin and Erin speak about his shared leadership philosophy, visiting the Pine Ridge Native American Reserve, spiritual enlightenment, and his new book, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership.

The b Cause podcast works to give people unique, fun and bite-sized solutions that provide the energy, inspiration and permission they need to rise in their careers, without selling their souls.

Click here to listen to the full podcast.

Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

  • Rarely in real life did they actually need a CEO centric solution to the questions or the problems that they were facing. They actually already knew what to do. (14:01-14:17)
  • And then I took it one step further and said you know, perhaps even the very meaning or purpose or mission of a life on earth is for humans to self-actualize, that we’re all here just trying to find our own true voice. The unique, never to be repeated essence of who we all are and to know that voice and love it and bring it forth and share it with the world. Perhaps that’s actually the purpose of life. (20:37-21:12)
  • That’s the model we’ve been indoctrinated into, but in the 21st century, we’re awakening to the truth, which is that each individual is sacred, and an organization’s value is dependent upon what it gives to its individual members, not what it takes or extracts from. (52:49-53:14)

Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




Leadership and Lumber: An Interview With Kevin Hancock

In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks about different themes in his newest book, The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. He speaks about what the Seventh Power is, how he came to learn about it, and how he incorporates his lessons into his daily life. He also shares the best advice he was ever given and near the end, Kevin is asked to give three tips to leaders.

  1. Lose the ego. 
  2. Get out of your lane.  
  3. Listen for understanding, not judgment.

Click here to read the full article.




    A Butt-Kicking Project to Overcome the Drain of Talkative Leadership

    This article highlights the downfalls that talkative leaders often use to justify their conversation monopoly and the negative impacts it can have on culture and engagement. It also gives an exercise that leaders can partake in to find out how often they take over entire conversations. Kevin Hancock’s story is shared through a video interview about how losing his voice changed his entire leadership style.

    To read the full article and watch the interview, click here.




    Putting Work Back In It’s Place

    In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about the importance of having a proper work/life balance. He highlights the difficulties of keeping work weeks to forty hours in the manufacturing industry, but admits there is no denying the benefits of having a balanced life.

    “Today I encourage all of the 525 people in our company to expand their lives beyond work and to invest more energy in pursuits that spark their hearts. While being successful at our jobs is essential for a healthy society, life is bigger than work. Today’s complex world needs CEOs who see the big picture of a balanced life, and use advancements at the workplace to free human capacity, not consume it.” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    Culture Makes the Difference: Great People are Everywhere, Great Cultures Aren’t

    Written by Kevin Hancock, “Culture Makes the Difference” explores the differences between companies and what are the key differentials between them.

    “Culture makes the difference.  An organization’s culture either creates an environment where great people can flourish, or an environment where people are frustrated, held back, or stymied. 

    What makes one corporate culture different from another?  To me, it’s all about control and where it lives.  Some organizations collect leadership power into the bureaucratic center, where a few people can make the majority of the decisions for the many.  This is the traditional model of business—and government—leadership and, during a period of time in human history, this may have been optimal.  But, that time has passed.” – Kevin Hancock 

    To read the full article, click here.




    Advocating For Shared Leadership

    In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks with host Helene Stelian about the importance of sharing leadership and finding your authentic voice. Kevin’s goal is to find his own authentic voice and create a company that fosters the culture that allows others to do the same. By creating an employee-centric company, Kevin hopes to achieve this dream. He also shares his journey to Pine Ridge and how his time there transformed the way he thinks about his own leadership style.

    Click here to read the full article.




    How Saying Less Can Empower Others to Say More

    In this article, Kevin Hancock writes about how journey to finding that by saying less, he is empowering others to speak more. By sharing the leadership responsibility with many, instead of consolidating in one place, Kevin has seen tremendous growth in those around him and the business he runs, Hancock Lumber. Once employees became engaged and felt more confidence, they began flourishing. Kevin writes that this is the path for the future, not only for Hancock Lumber, but one he hopes will spread to other communities as well.

    Click here to read the full article.




    The Age of Localism

    In this article, Kevin Hancock speaks about shared leadership, employee engagement, and employee-centric company structures.

    “Humans will always benefit from banding together to create value and solve problems. But institutions will need to alter the ways they engage with the world. Take corporations, for example, where employees have historically existed to serve the company. This self-centered model is in decline. It will be replaced by a new corporate relationship in which the company understands that its real purpose is to be valuable and meaningful to the people who work there. I call this reoriented corporation an ’employee-centric company.'” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    True Profitability and Productivity Come From Striving for a Bigger Social Goal

    This article is an excerpt from Kevin Hancock’s new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership.

    “At Hancock Lumber, we grow trees, but that is not our core objective. We make lumber, but that is not our primary purpose. We manage logistics, but that is not our most important task. Our one big goal is to add value to the lives of the people who work at Hancock Lumber. Work should add more than just economic value to the lives of the people who operate our company.” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    The Age of Localism

    In this article, Kevin Hancock explores the beginning of the age of localism; the idea that localized decision-making, rule-setting, and self-organizing will be the new pathways towards excellence. Kevin also discusses what will happen to larger companies in the future and the role that they play in our lives.

    “Take corporations, for example, where employees have historically existed to serve the company. This self-centered model is in decline. It will be replaced by a new corporate relationship in which the company understands that its real purpose is to be valuable and meaningful to the people who work there. I call this reoriented corporation an ’employee-centric company.'” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    How Losing His Voice Taught a Maine CEO to Give Workers More Say

    In this article by the Bangor Daily News, Kevin Hancock shares how his journey to Pine Ridge changed the way he thinks about power, leadership, and the human spirit. By rethinking the way he led Hancock Lumber, Kevin was able to give a voice to his employees. He found that they had the answers and ideas needed to run their daily activities. From this change, the company expanded to new heights and weathered unthinkable market volatility.

    Click here to read the full article.




    5 Clear Signs You’re Not An Authentic Leader

    In the article, Kevin Hancock’s core belief that leaders should listen more than speak is highlighted as an important indicator of being an authentic leader. Authentic leaders are naturally those who disperse and share leadership with those around them. Author Erin Hatzikostas says that when you share leadership and listen to others, “you’ll be amazed at how smart other people are.”

    To read the full article, click here.




    Spasmodic Dysphonia, Leading Differently, & Strengthening Voices

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Impactor’s Podcast host Avery Konda about being a social impactor. Kevin’s leadership style fosters personal growth and shares the burden of leadership among everyone to ensure voices are heard. Kevin believes that employees should have more than an economic gain from being at their place of work. By utilizing Hancock Lumber as a safe and comfortable place for employees to grow and find their voices, they can begin to make impacts on the world around them.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.




    CEO Kevin Hancock Lost His Voice, But Gained a New, Wildly Successful Management Style

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Monday Morning Radio host Dean Rotbart about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey Into the Business of Shared Leadership. Kevin and Dean discuss the employee-centric model that Hancock Lumber has adopted and how Kevin came to the realization that this was the path he wanted the business to take. By prioritizing his employees and their voices and ideas, Kevin has been able to foster an environment of shared leadership throughout the company.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.

    Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

    • They already had great solutions and they didn’t really actually need a CEO centric or a supervisory centric directive. They knew what to do, all they really needed was a bit of encouragement and a culture to trust their instinct and lead. (4:55-5:17)
    • And while that’s true today as well, we’re going about it in a very different way. We’re trying to build employee commitment to the company through corporate commitment first to the employees. (20:11-20:28)
    • So our company’s systems and processes and discipline have strengthened as a result of giving everybody a voice, not weakened because by and large, people feel like they’re valued participants in discussing, revising, and improving those systems and best practices. (30:46-31:12)

    Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




    Kevin Hancock Interview with Natfluence

    In this interview, Kevin Hancock speaks about motivators, success strategies, and the leadership style within Hancock Lumber. He shares his daily reflection strategies, as well as his daily routine. Some fun facts about Kevin?

    • Where do you enjoy getting lost? With the buffalo and the golden grass deep in the backcountry of Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills.
    • What drink do you need to get through the day? Diet Coke.
    • Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account? I like to minimize social media. Life is better in person!
    • What should everyone try at least once? A solo trip to a place that speaks to your heart.

    Click here to read the full interview.




    The Business of Shared Leadership – A CEO’s Quest to Disperse Power

    In this TEDx Talk, Kevin Hancock speaks about employee engagement and how this is affected by leadership style. In workplaces where employees do not feel heard, understood, or able to lead, they often become disengaged with the work they are performing. It leads to job dissatisfaction and eventually, employee turnover. When employees are able to share the leadership role and are truly heard by those around them, they are able to grow.

    “The purpose of [Hancock Lumber] is to add value to the lives of the people who work there, in more than just economic ways.”  – Kevin Hancock

    Click here to watch the full video.




    Finding Your Voice

    In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks about his leadership style at Hancock Lumber and how it evolved. He believes that everyone should feel safe and comfortable sharing their authentic voice. When people are heard, they transform into leaders who can share their ideas and empower the voices of others.

    “Leadership teams have the responsibility to create a work culture that makes it safe for people to say what they actually think. The success of the company is not the purpose of the company—it’s the result of engaging people the right way.” – Kevin Hancock

    Click here to watch the video.




    Kevin Hancock Appears on Tell Me More Podcast

    Kevin Hancock joins Renee Changnon on the Tell Me More podcast to share his story about how his speech disorder set him on a path to develop new management skills and a company culture that encourages all employees to be leaders.

    In the Tell Me More podcast, Renee Changnon, NRHA’s Retail Outreach Coordinator, talks to retailers across North America to learn about their careers, unique ideas and retail insights.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.

    Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

    • ‘The customer comes first.’ I don’t actually believe that’s true. I think that people who are gonna take care of the customer, the employees who work at the company, they come first. And if the company creates a great experience for the employees, then the employees will create a best-in-class experience for the customer. (6:53-7:25)
    • But then secondly, most importantly, wouldn’t an organization where everybody led be more socially valuable. Like wouldn’t every individual take more from their experience if they were viewed as and treated as a leader. (21:48-22:05)
    • And it really was a combination of those two events, my voice disorder and then my time at Pine Ridge, that changed forever for me, the way I see the world and really in simple ways. (44:06-44:26)

    Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




    The Single Most Important Idea in the History of Humans

    In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks at the Legal Services Corporation board meeting about the importance of each individual having a voice. He goes on to share his journey to Pine Ridge and how he found his inner peace and self-actualization through his experiences there. Kevin connects the two ideas, sharing that when people are heard and can speak without judgment, they too can find self-actualization.

    Click here to watch the full video.




    EXCITING NEWS: My next book releases on February 25, 2020!

    Hello! I have some exciting news! My next book, The Seventh Power – One CEO’S Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership, releases on February 25, 2020. My publisher, Post Hill Press recently launched the ‘coming soon’ sale site on Amazon. Check out the link and help me share it with others! It takes a community of followers to help a book and its message go viral. 

    The book will be distributed by Simon & Schuster and available in e-book form. The audio book is being published by Recorded Books

    This book takes the reader on an adventure that stretches from the Navajo Nation in Arizona to Kiev, Ukraine. The journey uncovers seven lessons about the art of dispersed power and the benefits of shared leadership for organizations who wish to thrive in the 21st Century. I am looking forward to sharing the full story with you soon! In the meantime, here’s a quote from the front of my book that offers a clue or two about the adventure that’s in store: 

    “It is extremely hard to discover the truth when you are ruling the world. You are just far too busy. Most political chiefs and business moguls are forever on the run. Yet if you want to go deeply into any subject, you need a lot of time, and in particular you need the privilege of wasting time. You need to experiment with unproductive paths, explore dead ends, make space for doubts and boredom, and allow little seeds of insight to slowly grow and blossom. If you cannot afford to waste time, you will never find the truth.”

    “Great power thus acts like a black hole that warps the very space around it. The closer you get to it, the more twisted everything becomes.”

    If you really want the truth, you need to escape the black hole of power and allow yourself to waste a lot of time wandering here and there on the periphery. Revolutionary knowledge rarely makes it to the center, because the center is built on existing knowledge.”

    —Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

    Just click here and enter your email address to join the conversation about strengthening employee engagement through shared leadership in the workplace. Then share this link with others. It takes a village to create change.




    Governor Mills Nominates Individuals for Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission

    May 24, 2019 – PRESS RELEASE

    Governor Janet Mills announced today that she has nominated six people to serve on the Maine Indian Tribal-State Commission. The Governor nominated John Cashwell, Robert Checkoway, James Cote, Kevin Hancock, former Senator Michael Pearson and former Senator Richard Rosen to serve on the Commission, an inter-governmental entity charged in part with reviewing the social, economic and legal relationship between Maine Tribes and the State.

    “The Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission has the potential to improve and strengthen the relationship between the State and Maine Tribes,” said Governor Mills. “In nominating these qualified individuals, my Administration is taking a step forward in reinvigorating the Commission and empowering it to become a forum for substantive communication, problem solving, and dispute resolution.”

    The Commission is composed of six members appointed by the State, two by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, two by the Passamaquoddy Tribe, and two by the Penobscot Indian Nation. The thirteenth, who is the chairperson, is selected by the other twelve. The Commission has not had a full slate of members since 2013.

    All state nominations to MITSC are subject to review by the Joint Standing Committee on Judiciary and final confirmation by the Maine State Senate.

    Governor Mills’ Nominations to the Maine Indian-Tribal State Commission:

    For appointment, John Cashwell of Bangor has served as president of Black River LLC since 2008. He previously served as Director of the Maine Forest Service from 1987 to 1992 and is a United States Army veteran. Cashwell also previously served as a Councilmember and as Mayor in both Calais and Bangor.

    For appointment, Robert Checkoway of Freeport, a retired attorney, formerly served as Assistant US Trustee for the US Department of Justice, responsible for the administration of all bankruptcy cases in Maine. Checkoway also formerly served as Assistant US Trustee at Preti, Flaherty and Beliveau and formerly as Associate Attorney at Skelton, Taintor & Abbott. Checkoway is a 1976 Maine School of Law graduate.

    For appointment, James Cote of Farmington is a public affairs consultant with Bernstein Shur and specializes in policies relating to natural resources, energy, and economic development. Cote formerly served as president and CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine and as Director of Communications and Government Relations for the Maine Forest Products Council.

    For appointment, Kevin Hancock of Casco has served as CEO of Hancock Lumber since 1991 and is the founder of Seventh Power, a non-profit organization that works to support Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Hancock is the author of the award winning novel Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and is the recipient of the Ed Muskie Access to Justice Award, Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen Award, and the Habitat for Humanity Spirit of Humanity Award. Hancock is a graduate of Bowdoin College.

    For appointment, the Honorable Michael Pearson of Enfield, a retired school teacher, formerly served as Old Town City Councilmember and as state representative and state senator, including as chair of the Appropriations Committee, representing the people of Old Town and Indian Island for more than twenty years.

    For appointment, the Honorable Richard Rosen of Bucksport served as the Commissioner of the Department of Administration and Financial Services from 2014-2017 and for fourteen years as state representative and state senator. During his time in the Legislature, Rosen served as Senate Chair and Ranking House Member of the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee and as Assistant Senate Republican Leader. Rosen is also the former owner and operator of Rosen’s, a clothing and footwear retailer in Bucksport.




    Kevin Hancock Addresses the ‘Elephant in the Room’ at the DO MORE GOOD Conference

    DO MORE GOOD by Kevin Hancock

    “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

    Margaret J. Wheatley

    May 18, 2019: This past Friday I spoke in Lincoln, Nebraska at the DO MORE GOOD conference.  Don’t you love that title, DO MORE GOOD?!

    Do More Good Conference
    Do More Good conference stage at the University of Nebraska Innovation Campus

    The conference was held at the University of Nebraska Innovation Campus in the shadows of the giant Cornhusker football stadium.  It was an exciting opportunity for me because the event brought in some top business speakers from around the country.  Jay Cohen Gilbert, founder of the B Corporation movement, spoke.  So, too, did Rand Stagen, co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism movement.

    The conference was a call to action for corporations to adopt a mission that was bigger than just making a profit.  Have a purpose that’s bigger than what you make or what you sell.  Stand for something important!  Your corporate purpose should solve a real problem.  These were the rallying cries of the conference.

    My talk and personal mission were a good fit for this event.  I spoke about losing some of my voice to SD and then traveling to Pine Ridge where I encountered an entire community that did not feel heard.  The two events combined to give me the inspiration to use a company as a platform to strengthen the voices of others, and to create a culture where everyone leads.  So, my proposal was to create an EMPLOYEE CENTRIC company where the first priority of the business is to enhance the lives of the people who work there, by creating a safe and dynamic space for people to express themselves freely and self-actualize through work.

    elephant prop
    Kevin Hancock Addresses the Elephant in the Room

    At the talk, my mascot was my Ringling Brothers stuffed elephant.  I introduced him as the ‘elephant in the room’, representing the traditional, top down, bureaucratic, power to the center leadership model.  The new model I am advocating for is one in which power is shared and dispersed, so that every voice is heard and everyone leads.

    I closed the talk by returning to the elephant.  I acquired him on May 5th, 2017 at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.  I was attending the last-ever performance of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  It was an historic event –a tipping point in social consciousness.  The elephant, who originally helped make the circus and played the star role, ultimately helped end the circus and bring about its demise.  But, why?  The elephant hadn’t changed…

    So, what did change?  Human perception changed.  The well-being of a handful of elephants had become more important to society that an entire iconic industry—the circus.

    Do More Good
    “Who knew that losing your voice could help you find it? That giving a voice to those not heard creates a better work culture? And that great culture disperses power to its people rather than consuming them?”

    This subtle, but super important moment, is a sign of the times and a guide post for business in the 21st Century.  The age of the individual is upon us.  Corporations must do more than simply serve their own objectives.  Specifically, they must become a valued place full of life and growth for the people who work there.  If companies focus on advancing the lives of the people who work there, the people who work there will create—in turn—exceptional experiences for customers.  In this model, profit actually increases, but it becomes an outcome of a higher calling.

    Everyone attending the conference received a copy of Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse in their gift bag.

    blog follow

    Thank you for reading and please help spread this blog to others that might like to follow.  My next book is coming in the Spring of 2020 and my publisher, Post Hill Press, wants me to grow my blog follower ship in advance!  It takes a village to spread ideas and create change.  If the ideas I am writing about are of value to you, please think about your own personal network and share the link to this blog and invite them to follow.

    Finally, Rosie Freire, the owner of the Singing Horse Trading Post (where I stay at Pine Ridge) drove down to the conference and attended.  I was able to introduce her to the audience during my talk as one of my personal heroes in business.  What I said about Rosie during the conference and what she thought of the event is the topic for another post, soon to come!

    The title of my next book has been finalized and I will share it here with you now…

    THE SEVENTH POWER
    One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Leadership

    Thank you for sharing your voice!

    Kevin signature

     

     

    Kevin Hancock, President + CEO




    Do More Good Conference 2019

    In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks at the Do More Good Conference about his life story. From losing his voice to his spiritual quest to Pine Ridge, Kevin shares with the audience how he grew both internally and as a leader. He also delves into how he saw changes in Hancock Lumber and what he changed about the management style in the company.

    Click here to watch the full video.




    The Consequences of Overreaching

    The Wall Street Journal recently published this article titled, Fast-Tracked Aircraft Certification, Pushed by Boeing, Comes Under the Spotlight

    My next book is about, in part, OVERREACHING, and how leaders often go too far and take too much…

    One of the common paths of overreaching, I have concluded, is GOING TOO FAST…and cutting corners in the ZEST to get there.

    Nearly every book on Custer’s last stand indicates that he was in a hurry for a victory because he wanted the news to reach the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia before it ended.  His rush for glory led him to attack before he KNEW the situation he was entering. 

    “We scouts thought there were too many Indians for Custer to fight…It was the biggest Indian camp I had ever seen.”
    –White Man Runs Him, Crow scout


    “Hadn’t we better keep the regiment together, General?  If this is as big a camp as they say, we’ll need every man we have.”
    Captain Frederick Benteen to General Custer

     


    “You have your orders.”
    Custer to Benteen

    That story of defeat is also full of critical moments where the leader did NOT listening to those around him. 

    I have no way of knowing if Boeing hurried for certification or not, but I do know that hurrying is a form of overreaching and that overreaching always has consequences.




    Pinky Clifford Receives National Award!

    Click on the link below!

    https://www.hancocklumber.com/blog/2019/03/15/pinkyclifford/

    On March 28th in Washington D.C., my dear friend and NOT FOR SALE book star, Pinky Clifford, is receiving a distinguished award from the National Low Income Housing Coalition for her decades of work to bring home ownership opportunities to the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I am very happy to see Pinky receive this recognition and I will be attending the ceremony in DC!




    The Seventh Power and the Age of Shared Leadership

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks about his new book The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership with Enterprise Radio’s host Eric Dye. They discuss his journey to Pine Ridge and how it led to a new way of leadership. Kevin is an advocate of strengthening voices of all individuals—within a company or a community—through listening, empowerment, and shared leadership.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.

    Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

    • First, for the first time I understood what it was like to not feel fully heard. And second, at Pine Ridge I came to realize there are lots of ways to lose your voice in this world or to not feel authentically heard. And then third, which was this big leadership idea. When I started looking at history, it really hit me that throughout history, leaders had probably done more to restrict, and intimidate, and hinder others than to liberate them and empower them. And that’s really when it hit me that the partial loss of my own vice was actually a blessing in disguise and an invitation to lead differently and see if I could help create an organization in our company than perhaps beyond where everybody felt heard and everybody felt respected, trusted, empowered, and important. (02:59-04:28)
    • I think simply put, it’s look at the traditional leadership model that governs much of the planet today. It’s really an organizationally centric model where the power of decision-making and control has been pulled into the center, the corporate-cratic headquarters of the organization. And the individuals who are a part of that organization have traditionally been encouraged either overtly or covertly to sacrifice a bit of their own voice and identity for the purpose of serving the center, in a power to the center model. But if you look globally today at engagement level, people’s enthusiasm for their place of work or their confidence in their government shows statistically that their confidence was very low. And I believe that’s because we’re moving into a period in human history where increasingly individuals are wanting to serve their own vice and strengthen their own souls. But organizations are a bit behind that curve. In fact, they’re still very self- centered. To me, the idea to flip the script on the traditional model of organizational structure. And instead of collecting power in, the goal is to disburse it and push it out, and create a culture where everybody shares the responsibilities and the opportunities for leadership. (04:45-07:04)
    • A company is going to put a high priority on being profitable and having excellent customer service, of course. But to me, profitability really should be an outcome, not the goal. If an organization takes exceptional care of the people that work there, those people will figure out how to take world class care of customers, and that will produce high quality results for the company. But those corporate results are really the outcome of adding that value to the lives of the people who work at the company. (10:16-11:02)

    Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




    Embracing the Age of Shared Leadership

    Kevin Hancock presented the keynote speech at the LBM Strategies Conference in 2018. The keynote highlights the importance of the Shared Leadership philosophy on employee engagement, job satisfaction, and culture.

    The LBM Strategies Conference brings together LBM pros to address and share practical, tactical solutions to today’s toughest business challenges. LBM Strategies is produced by LBM Journal, the leading media brand serving the lumber / building material distribution industry.

    Click here to watch the full keynote video.




    Turning Your Business Into Something Extraordinary

    Turn Your Business into Something Extraordinary

    In these two videos, Kevin Hancock speaks about his journey to finding dispersed power. He shares with the audience how he ended up visiting Pine Ridge and befriending the Indian tribe living there. He was able to connect with them since they felt their voices had been lost as well. Kevin found that his new mission was to strengthen the voices of others and use that strength to disperse power.

    Kevin also brings these lessons and ideas to the workplace in an effort to share leadership. By sharing power, employees feel more job satisfaction, more voices and ideas are heard, and the workload becomes lessened for all involved. He concludes the video by sharing seven lessons for new leadership.

    Click here to watch part 1 of the video.

    Click here to watch part 2 of the video.




    Straining My Vocal Chords and Strengthening the Voices of Others

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks on Awakin Call about his books Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and The Seventh Power: One CEO’s Journey into the Business of Shared Leadership. He speaks about his journey to Pine Ridge as well as the healing process and lessons he learned there. He then talks about how he incorporates the tools he gathered there to implement a better structure at Hancock Lumber. In an effort to disperse power, Kevin shares the leadership role with every one of his employees. This allows them to find their true voice and the company benefitted from this greatly. He leaves the podcast by talking about how shared leadership will continue growing throughout the world.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.

    Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

    • One of the things I’ve thought a lot about is the idea that we all come from a tribe. We’re all born into a certain moment in time, place, culture, community. And that entry point, if you will, pulls on us all to act a certain way, to be a certain type of person. But ultimately, each soul is here living a life on earth to find their own true voice, authentic to who they are, and to release it and share it with the world. (16:35-17:28)
    • One of the ideas that I really talk about in that book is the idea that awareness and connectivity, in and of itself, is a powerful act. So when I would go to Pine Ridge and come back, people would ask me what I did there. And at first, I really struggled to provide an answer. But finally I just came clean and said, I don’t really do anything there, which I don’t. I just travel around the reservation and spent time with people that I know there. And this is a place where for decades, generations, people from away have gone there to fix, save, change the people that live there. And that doesn’t work, of course, because change comes from within. And I really would see power in going there for no other reason than to be aware and connected. (32:45-33:47)
    • So at Pine Ridge, one of their core values is wisdom. And the Lakota believe that wisdom is primarily acquired through experience by living a life. And for those who have lived the longest have had the most experiences and have therefore acquired large quantities of wisdom. And elders, therefore, are highly respected within the community. If you go to a public gathering and a younger person stands up to speak, they will first ask permission to speak for the elders. And I remember a few years ago when I took my mom with me to Pine Ridge, and we had a really lovely experience. And it was fun for me to see that immediately upon arrival, she was put in front of me in a place of honor, even though she never been there, because she was the elder. And so it really made me think about how our culture, mainstream culture, could engage elders differently. (43:04-44:35)

    Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




    Celebrating today…

    Today is a day to celebrate all the good we have done as parents…and to forgive any transgressions…and to contemplate fresh starts when necessary. 

    One great thing about life is no matter who you are or where you are there are always past events to be thankful for AND future chances to create something fresh and better.  We always have the choice of celebration, forgiveness, and renewal.  All three are part of a family experience I think. 

    Family is all just a chance to learn, love, and grow. 




    Kevin Hancock at the ChIME Event

    In this video, Kevin Hancock is the keynote speaker at the Chaplaincy Institute of Maine to discuss spirituality and business. He shares his thoughts on improving the workplace culture and environment to enhance the value of the lives of employees. His philosophy that everyone can help lead the company and be comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas is a major pillar in this enhancement. He finishes his presentation by speaking about his journey to Pine Ridge and his book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse.

    Click here to watch the full keynote speech.




    Kevin Hancock to speak at UMA

    logo-footerThe University of Maine at Augusta and the Office of the Dean of Students have invited Kevin Hancock to speak about his experiences on the Pine Ridge Reservation as part of their recognition of Native American Heritage Month at the Augusta campus. This event is open to the public, and will be held from 12pm – 1pm on December 5th, at the UMA campus. The academic theme this year at The University of Maine at Augusta is TRUTH, and Kevin was asked to speak as they felt his experience and perspective would dovetail nicely with their exploration of this theme of TRUTH.

    The first 40 attendees will receive a FREE copy of Kevin’s award-winning book, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse 

    It has been a really exciting fall, filled with speaking opportunities. Sharing our stories brings us together and open our eyes to new ideas. We hope you can join in this great opportunity at UMA. To hear some of Kevin’s recent talks, check out the videos section in the related links tab on our site. 

    The University of Maine at Augusta is located at: 46 University Drive, Augusta, ME 04330




    2017 Featured Speech at Builders Summit in Falmouth, ME

    In this video, Kevin Hancock is the featured speaker at the 2017 Builders Summit. Here, Kevin shares the journey he began when his voice began to weaken. He speaks about Pine Ridge and how his time among the Lakota tribe began his healing journey. The lessons he learned there and within himself brought changes to Hancock Lumber. By sharing the leadership burden at Hancock Lumber and dispersing the power to all employees, the company has thrived. The employees feel that their voices are empowered and heard, which increases the value of their time at work.

    Click here to watch the full video.




    2017 SAGE Lecture Series

    SAGE9/26/17 – This past Tuesday, Kevin Hancock was invited to speak at the University of Southern Maine in Portland as part of the SAGE lecture series. SAGE provides academic lecture and discussion programs chosen by its members, in topic areas such as history, culture, the arts, geography, anthropology, and science. Using University and community resources, the SAGE program provides a format in which enthusiastic learners can discover new realms of intellectual challenge and academic pursuit.

    SAGE_VIDEO

    Kevin was met by an enthusiastic group of 80 lifelong learners interested in hearing his recent journey through the Land of Crazy Horse. For 2 hours, the group heard from Kevin, watched a video he made during his trip, and followed up with a great Q+A session. Here is a link to watch the talk! 




    Third Printed Edition of NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse launches!

    Hello!  The third printed edition of NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse arrived from the publishing company today!

    The book first launched in the fall of 2015 and we now have 6,000 copies sold or in distribution.

    To celebrate, now through September 30th, we are having a big sale!  For every two books ordered, you will receive a third book free!  Order four copies and receive two free (and so on)!  Enter coupon code BUY2GET1FREE at checkout! Shipping during this period is also free and all books will be personalized and signed.  A single book is $20.

    This new edition has an updated front and back cover, as well as some new inside cover material.  Simply go to www.kevindhancock.com and place your order, as this special is not available through any other distribution sources (only on the book website).

    Also, if this book has spoken to you, now would be a great time to post a good word for the book on Amazon, the book website or through your own social media outlets.  As I am now fond of saying, in the Aquarian Age, readers (not publishers) sell books by sharing their experiences with others!

    In closing, I heard yesterday from my friend Pinky Clifford at Pine Ridge that the South Dakota Governor was on the Reservation last week and Pinky gave him a copy of my book, which he tells her he is now reading!

    Helping people seek, find, and share their own true voice is the mission of spreading the word and continuing to share the story! Thank you for being a part of that objective!  Wopila Tanka (Big Thanks)!

    Kevin Hancock




    Maine InnKeepers Podcast Link

    Hello!  I did a live Facebook podcast with the Maine Restaurant and Innkeepers Associations today!  On October 24th I am speaking at their 1st annual Maine Hospitality Summit (www.mainehospitalitysummit.com).

    Here is a link to the podcast…: https://www.facebook.com/MaineInnkeepers/videos/10154577491767282/

    At their conference we are going to be talking about leadership strategies for pushing power out from the corporate center and strengthening the voices of others.  The goal is to create an organization where everybody leads!

    Check the podcast out and, if it speaks to you, pass it on!

    Books can always be ordered at www.kevindhancock.com!  All orders placed on the site are signed and personalized!  $20 per book…free shipping!

    On that note, we crossed a nice milestone recently passing 5,500 copies of NOT FOR SALE – FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE  sold or in distribution!  As a result, we have placed the order for our 3rd printed edition which we be out this fall!

    Thank you for being you and for being interested in the messages and ideas we are testing and sharing around new leadership models for the modern age!

    Kevin




    Searching for Voices in the City of Music

    I was blessed to be the key note speaker this weekend at the annual National Spasmodic Dysphonia Conference held, ironically this year, in the Music City of Nashville, TN.  People with broken voices from all over the world came to the city of beautiful voices to learn, connect and share their stories.  It was such a joy to share my story with the people gathered there.  

    At the conclusion of my talk about searching for my own voice in the Land of Crazy Horse I shared three ideas…

    The first was on the idea of leaders doing less not more…of leaders pushing power out instead of collecting it in…of a future where everybody shares the opportunity and responsibility of leadership.  I ended that idea with this quote…

    “When the best leader’s work is done the people say ‘we did it ourselves’.” – Lao Tzu

    The second idea I shared was to learn to SURRENDER to what comes your way…”What if Spasmodic Dysphonia picked you for a reason?” I asked the room full of people with SD.  “What brings you here?”  We will never know…but just pretend…what if SD picked you for a reason…what is that reason?  What is that calling or opportunity?  Earlier I began my talk by saying that my voice disorder was a blessing, one of the very best things that ever happened to me and that if a magic fairy appeared in the room and offered to take my disorder away I would not let her have it.  SD has brought more blessings into my life than challenges.  It was a blessing disguised as a problem.  Without SD, I told the group, I never would have known that I was a story teller, a writer, a photographer, an activist or an advocate for reinventing leadership for the modern world.  All of that came into my life becasue of SD.  “What if SD picked YOU for a reason?”  

    Finally I shared the idea that despite the trauma that came with your/our disorder…”our true voice still lives within us”.  At the opening reception the night before we shared a magical two hours as the microphone was passed around the room and a group of people who struggle to talk all introduced themselves and told their story.  The broken voices did not bother anyone in the room.  We all understood each other perfectly.  During that process several times a broken voice would slip, even for just a few seconds into a normal voice.  That true voice still lives with in us all.  SD is actually a tool to help people find their voice, not lose it.  I told the group we might not be able to totally cure the neurological disorder we share BUT that we could definately make it much better.  I told them I didn’t want mine to totally go away anyway…it had been too good to me!

    I closed with a reading from my book from a dinner conversation at the Singing Horse Trading Post with my dear friend Catherine Grey Day where she told me that “Change must come from within.”  SD forces you to stop, sit still and look inward…that is the blessing of SD.  It continues to be a joy to be connect Pine Ridge and the indigenous wisdom of the Sioux to the rest of the world!  In the end we all belong to the same tribe and the borders that we think divide us are not real.  

    Last night, after the conference concluded, I went to the Grand Ole Opry and loved watching beautiful voices do their thing…just like I had at the conference full of amazing people with SD!!!!  Blessed!




    What unites us is more powerful than what divides us…

    [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wYXw4K0A3g]

    Hello!  This is a great short (4:00 minute) video reminder about how we are all more alike than we are different.  The ideas that we think divide us are not as big as they appear…

    Kevin Hancock  President / Hancock Lumber [email protected]

    Books available at www.kevindhancock.com




    The Ten Virtues of Leadership for a Collaborative World

    This short article is by a friend of mine…Larry Miller…a lean management consultant.  The article is titled The Ten Virtues of Leadership for a Collaborative World.  This is a quick but brilliant read and just had to share this with you.  I don’t use the word ‘brilliant’ very often…but this article is briliant!

     I shared this with everyone at our company today and suggested that it describes Hancock Lumber’s real, modern day mission.  Our mission is not lumber, or logistics or even making money…our mission is trying to model a new paradigm for how people work together…

    Below is a link to Larry’s amazing post…

    The Ten Virtues of Leadership for a Collaborative World

    Thank you for being you!

    Kevin

     




    Connecting Tribes!

    I had the honor of being the dinner speaker tonight at Aetna’s world-wide finance team leadership conference in Hartford, CT.  They had 400 of their finance leaders there from around the globe.  Aetna bought a copy of the book NOT FOR SALE for each attendee.  It was really fun to share the story of Pine Ridge and the story of Spasmodic Dysphonia and how both changed the way I thought about leadership with their team.  The theme of their conference was transformational leadership and thinking about new models for leadership that engage the members of the team more deeply!

    Here is an excerpt from my talk…”We have been looking in the wrong place for purpose, power, meaning, opportunity and guidance all along.  Leadership does not live ‘out there’ somewhere in the hands of others.  It’s inside us.  We are each the source of our own power.  We each are the leader we have been searching for all along.  Each of us is the only one who can set things right.”

    I shared a passage from the book of a dinner conversation I had one night at the Singing Horse Trading Post with my dear friend and respected elder, Catherine Grey Day as well…”Change comes from within,” Catherine explained.  “Our progress as a people must come from within.”

    It made me very happy to be a portal for connecting the wisdom of Catherine Grey Day, Dakota Sioux, with the entire finance leadership team at Aetna! :):)

    The Aetna team had a great vibe!  You know how when you spend a few minutes with a group you immediately get a feel for the spirit and culture of the organization?  Their spirit of care and enthusiasm came through in a powerful way during my time with them.  The room was filled with talented and motivated people who take pride in what they do and the impact they can have on health care in America.  It made me think…the entire television debate about health care access and affordability is almost exclusively focused on what government is going to do…there is very little talk of all the amazing innovation, technology and fresh ideas coming out of the insurance industry itself.  Instead, the insurance industry is often labeled as the ‘problem’ that the government has to ‘protect’ the people from.  If you had spent the night with me in the Marriott ballroom in Hartford with the Aetna leadership team I am confident you would have left with good feelings.  The room was filled with  talent, enthusiasm, innovation and good values.  It would be helpful if our political leadership would recognize the important work the private sector does to make health care in America better every day.

    Aetna’s team was amazing and inspiring!  Made me feel good about the future possibilities for health insurance and the positive power of the people working in the industry!

    We had a great time!  Learned a lot!  Shared a lot!

    I told them,”only in New England would your motivational speaker be the guy from the local lumberyard”!  Thank you Aetna for being you and for all you do!




    It takes adults to make the world too complicated…

    Just sharing this 3 minute video…no one in the video over 10 years old…could solve all the world’s problems…




    Humanizing “refugees”…makes the truth of what America should do easy to see…

    Devils Tower, photographed by Kevin Hancock
    Devils Tower, photographed by Kevin Hancock

    Hello!  This video humanizes the Syrian refugee crisis.  Whenever you humanize a situation the truth surfaces.  President Trump’s current position of distancing America from refugee challenges is the opposite of what should be done and who we are as a country.  

    “Refugee” – a person who has been FORCED to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster…

    This video follows Mohammed Alsaleh and his work to help Syrian refugees in Vancouver.  He himself is a refugee…once tortured and imprisoned for wanting freedom for his people and country.

    http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=7434

    Mohammed Alsaleh quotes…

    • “My generation was dreaming about having freedom” (before 2011)
    • “It’s so normal now to open your computer and see the death of your friend (back home) on social media.”
    • “It’s heartbreaking to see the country you grew up in get destroyed.”



    It always comes back to what WE do…

    cropped-028.jpgHello!  I had this essay picked up as the OP-ED in the Maine Sunday Telegram Today.

    Americans should set example for new leader

    The world around us can be very mesmerizing and distracting but at the end of the day our path always comes back to what we each choose to do on a local level.  That’s the 7th Power, the power of the individual spirit,  that lives within us all!  We are not defined by what others do or have done.  We are defined by what we do each day.

    Thank you for being you and for staying connected!

    Kevin




    Americans Should Set Example for New Leader

    In this article published by the Portland Press Herald, Kevin Hancock writes about how Americans can and should set examples for the newly elected President. As Kevin’s leadership style evolved into one of employee leadership, he mentions instances where he has become concerned with the lack of communication coming from the leaders in government. However, if we set an example for how relationships should be treated, we can become unified and stronger than ever.

    “Hold a loving hand out to everyone around you and carry on. Your children, your neighbors and the world will see what we – the 324 million – do every day as the definition of who we are. In the Aquarian age, the voice of the orchestra trumps the voice of the soloist.” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    Spirit of Christmas

    004I have been saving this video for Christmas.  When you have 15 minutes you might enjoy this 60 Minutes segment on how love and ideas ended the 50 year old gorilla war in Columbia.  It’s the best example I have seen of the new Aquarian paradigm of human engagement.

    The New Columbia

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-colombia-after-civil-war-lara-logan/

    More than Christmas is a day…it’s an idea…

    Love to you!  Merry Christmas to all!

    Kevin

     

     

     




    The Secret of Change

    021I saw this quote today.  It crystalized a thought I have had for some time for the people of Pine Ridge and the other reservation communities of the northern plains.  This quote also speaks to the one concern I have had surrounding the protests at Standing Rock.  More broadly, I think this quote is applicable to all humanity…

    The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

    – Dan Millman –




    The Gift of Ideas

    106I participated in a small leadership workshop recently where there goal was simple…acquiring a piece of new learning…putting an idea in your head that had not been there before.  The program was a reminder that growth is an intentional act…you have to be looking for new ideas, wanting to think differently.

    It all reminded me of the vision-quest rite of the Sioux.  I have studied that rite and come to believe that the biggest step in the vision-quest process is the first one…seeking.  “The spirits will meet you half way,” as the Lakota say.

    Over a year after my book, NOT FOR SALE, launched I am still sharing and acquiring ideas connected to that story.  Below is a link to a talk I recently gave to the Portland Rotary Club.  I wanted to share it with you becasue it’s Christmas and ideas are one of the most valuable gifts we can exchange…

    http://ctn5.org/shows/rotary-club-speakers-series/portland-rotary-speakers-kevin-hancock-10748

    Mitakuye Oyasin!  (We are all brothers)

    Kevin

     




    Holiday Book Sale!

    Kevin Hancock’s award-winning book, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse, on sale for $20/each with FREE shipping, or, BUY 3 GET 1 FREE! Now through 12/31/16. Get your newly released 2nd edition copy with new cover & pictures, signed by the author for the perfect holiday gift! Enter coupon code: BUY3GET1FREE at checkout!

    nfs_holiday_sale

    “I read Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse in record time. I simply couldn’t put the book down. Kevin Hancock’s courage in laying out his vision quest so beautifully and humbly is a true inspiration. It is my hope that all business leaders will heed the message that it is possible to care for our souls and our businesses simultaneously. In fact, for true sustainability and health, we must.”

    –Christiane Northrup, MD, New York Times best-selling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and Goddesses Never Age

     

    “If you had told me a couple of years ago that my friend, Kevin Hancock, would set off on a quest for enlightenment, sparked by a long-distance astrological reading which would lead him to a sweat lodge in a remote Indian reservation well, let’s just say that ‘skeptical’ doesn’t come close to covering it. What happened next is the amazing story Kevin tells here; part history (and not very pleasant history at that), part spiritual journey, part moving portrait of some extraordinary people, and part leadership manual, this fascinating book will touch you and teach you on many levels.”

    –Angus S. King Jr., US Senator

     

    “Kevin Hancock’s story touched me, heart and soul. As I read his words, I kept having to chase ‘Amazing Grace’ out of my head. The archetype behind that song–the archetype of awakening and redemption–permeates every chapter. His is the kind of tale that helps restore my faith in human nature–and gives me hope for the human future.”

    Steven Forrest, author of The Inner Sky




    Not 4 Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with host CinnamonMoon to discuss his book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. In his book, Kevin shares the driving factors that led him to his vision quest in South Dakota. He shares the details of how his life changed during and after the quest, as well as how he took the lessons he learned and applied them to his life.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.

    Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

    • And then it dawned on me probably later than it should, but after four or five trips from Maine to the reservation that I was having a bit of my own modern day Vision Quest experience. When I looked at what was happening to me, it had all the same elements of that ancient Lakota right. (26:39-26:58)
    • Yeah, no, you do. It’s so fun. I mean, the world actually becomes, I don’t want to say a simpler place, but you can see these basic simple elements everywhere you turn suddenly. It’s like the whole world lights up that way. (57:50-58:07)
    • Learning and growing does not have a finish line. It doesn’t have an end point. It doesn’t stop and there’s no winning or losing. It’s just living with a soul-based authentic intention and purpose that is pointing you in the right direction. (80:56-81:20)

    Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




    Not For Sale

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Bright Side host Tekneshia about his book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and the journey he took that brought him to Pine Ridge. Through his own healing quest, Kevin was able to identify groups of other people who felt their voices had been muted and made it his mission to strengthen everyone’s unique voice. He took this initiative and began dispersing leadership and power to those around him.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.




    Not For Sale: Guest Kevin Hancock

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with The Common Sense Psychic host Phyllis King about his new book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. The book depicts his journey to Pine Ridge to visit the Indian Reservation and the lessons he learned along the way. One of the largest realizations on his journey involved Kevin’s leadership style. As the CEO of Hancock Lumber, Kevin was often the loudest voice in the room, but when he lost his ability to speak, he turned to others to speak more. By listening to others, he found that he could uplift their ideas and share the leadership role.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.

    Here are a few highlights from the podcast (click here for the full transcription):

    • And I happened to have read in the summer of 2012, a copy of National Geographic in which the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was on the cover. And that article, that story, just spoke to me in a really deep, soulful way. Like every character in the story came out and hugged me. And I finished the article and I said to my wife, “I’m going to go there. I want to see what life is like, modern day life is like for the people that live there.” One of the biggest most historic, poorest, combative, disenfranchised of all the Sioux reservations on the Northern Plains. And one trip led to two, which has now been 10. And a journal I was keeping turned into a book and a story I wanted to tell. But it all came from stopping, sitting still, and listening to my own voice and wanting to express myself more broadly than just the roles I’d been assigned or taken on in my life. (08:17-09:18)
    • But what I discovered by accident changed the way I thought about leadership and changed my role. And I’ve since come to be a champion of what if we could create an organization where every voice was a leading voice, where every person led. Wouldn’t that be more powerful and dynamic and healthy than an organization where just a few people held all the cards? (20:09-20:37)
    • I suddenly had a lot more time, I was able to be more effective by doing less. Which is a really counter intuitive concept for leaders to get their head around. But I freed up time and then I was able to reinvest some of that time in my own well-being. And just over time, spending time just on me. Like I would go to Pine Ridge for five or six days at a time by myself. And while I was engaging with them and learning about them and growing fond of them and thinking about their world, I was really also just there clearing my own head and serving my own soul. And the mere act of making time to do that was extremely powerful. (20:41-21:35)

    Click here to download a PDF of the transcription.




    How Spirit Quests & Indigenous Wisdom Can Shape Better Business Leadership

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Lucid Planet podcast host Dr. Kelly Neff about the lessons he learned at Pine Ridge that permanently altered the course of both his life and leadership style, including learning to listen more, looking inward for purpose, strengthening the voices of others, and reconstructing his entire sense of identity. Kevin’s transformation allowed him to connect with a different sense of unity within his communities and adapt his leadership style to strengthen the voices of others.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.




    Native American Callings Panel Discussion Guest

    In this video, Kevin Hancock joins a panel at Kansas State University Staley School of Leadership Studies as a discussion guest on Native American Callings. Kevin shares his story about losing his voice and traveling to Pine Ridge. He speaks about how the leadership styles on the reservation, coupled with the events of losing his voice, have changed how he leads. He highlights how individuals want to speak their own truth, instead of letting the head of an organization speak for them.

    Click here to listen to the full video.




    This is Phyllis Young, leader of the Dakota pipeline protest

    https://instagram.com/p/BMT6sBgjJ-k/




    A Loss of Voice as a Way for the Soul to Stop Working, Stop Leading, Stop Caretaking

    In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Kevin Moore Show host, Kevin Moore about his book Not 4 Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. This book highlights the journey Kevin Hancock made to Pine Ridge after losing his own voice. He connected to the tribe at Pine Ridge because they, too, lost their voices. They talk about the importance of being heard and how that leads to engagement, leadership, and inner strength. Kevin Hancock also speaks about how inward reflection has created a new understanding of meaning and purpose.

    Click here to watch the full video.




    The 7th Power…

    The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.
    The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.

    Hello!  I wanted to share this passage below from a daily reading web-site I subscribe to because it offers a powerful description of the 7th Power…how easily it can be lost…and, therefore, how easily it can be found…

    “One of the most common ways in which we imprison ourselves is by comparing ourselves to others and, upon finding our situation inferior, placing blame — on circumstances that we feel are unfair, on the people we believe are responsible for those circumstances, or on some abstract element of fate we think is at play. The self-defeating catch is that we often end up judging our circumstancesagainst others’ outcomes, forgetting that hard work and hard choices are the transmuting agent between circumstance and outcome.

    Joseph Brodsky captured this with piercing precision in the greatest commencement address of all time, cautioning: “A pointed finger is a victim’s logo… No matter how abominable your condition may be, try not to blame anything or anybody: history, the state, superiors, race, parents, the phase of the moon, childhood, toilet training, etc. The menu is vast and tedious, and this vastness and tedium alone should be offensive enough to set one’s intelligence against choosing from it. The moment that you place blame somewhere, you undermine your resolve to change anything.”

    Luna touches on this perilous tendency as she considers the origin of Should:

    How often do we place blame on the person, job, or situation when the real problem, the real pain, is within us? And we leave and walk away, angry, frustrated, and sad, unconsciously carrying the same Shoulds into a new context — the next relationship, the next job, the next friendship — hoping for different results.”

     Here is the link to the full article…

    Thank you for being you!  Wopila Tanka!

    Kevin




    Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks to Beyond 50 Radio host Daniel Davis about the lessons he learned at the Lakota Tribe at Pine Ridge and how their teachings helped him find how shared leadership enhances the lives of everyone. He shares the spiritual healing and inner peace that his quest to South Dakota brought. Kevin also speaks about how shared leadership has enhanced the lives and job satisfaction of those that work at Hancock Lumber. The power dispersal has allowed the company to flourish and grow at a rapid pace.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.




    Guest Presenter: Kevin Hancock

    In this video, Kevin Hancock stars as the guest presenter on Skidompha Library’s “Chats with Champions” series. Kevin discusses his book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and the journey the book showcases. This healing quest brings Kevin to South Dakota, where he meets the Lakota tribe living on the Pine Ridge reservation. He then discusses how the lessons he learned during his journey have helped him grow, learn, heal, and evolve as a person and leader.

    Click here to watch the full video.




    Strengthening the Voices of Others

    In this article, Kevin Hancock shares his story about losing his voice and how his leadership style adapted to this major obstacle. By listening more to others, Kevin is able to preserve his voice and create a new employee-centric culture at Hancock Lumber.

    “Leadership is about doing less, not more. It is about restraint. It is about holding the power but not using it. It’s about listening without judging or correcting. It is about being connected and aware of how others feel.” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    More Awareness & Connectivity…Less Judging and Fixing

    fullsizerender

    Before 7 AM the streets of Boston belong to the runners and the homeless.  This man was sleeping on a bench in Copley Square early this morning holding a small America flag.  I walked past him, like everyone does…but could not get him off my mind.  So I circled back.  I didn’t decide lightly to take his picture but I could not resist.  I wanted to share his presence.

    I think we have become de-sensitized to what’s disturbing around us.  People walk by this man all day and make sure not to look…but he is still there.  I wonder why we don’t want to look too long or think too deeply about someone is those shoes.  What scares us about that?

    I come to Boston quite a bit and always bring a small pile of one dollar bills.  I give a dollar or two to pretty much anybody who asks.  In the process I always look the person in the eye and say hello…maybe exchange a sentence or two.  I always leave seeing a real person there who is actually as smart and as human as the rest of us.   There is one big black guy who “owns” the spot behind the mail box outside Dunkin Donuts on Boylston.  He is very bright.  His eyes light up when he talks.  He sees me coming and smiles as we know each other now.

    The acknowledgement that a person exists is more powerful than the one or two dollars I share.  To feel invisible must be deeply painful.

    It all reminds me a bit of my time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  Those who contemplate the “rez”or the homeless often find their minds moving to “solutions”, “strategies”, “initiatives” and “judgement”.  I understand why…but…I don’t think it’s what is most needed.  If it was, Pine Ridge and homelessness would have been “fixed” long ago.  I think awareness and connectivity…one human to another human…is what’s needed most.  Seeing and acknowledging a person that feels invisible is…in and of itself…a powerful act.

    Wopila Tanka for all you do!

    Kevin




    How To Find Spiritual Fulfillment

    In this video, Kevin Hancock speaks to The Inspiration Show’s host Natalie Ledwell about finding himself through the journey outlined in his new book Not 4 Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. In Kevin’s trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation, he reflected on losing his voice, how to cope and find peace with this loss, and finding his sense of purpose. He speaks about how the Pine Ridge residents feel that they have lost their voices too and his mission becomes to enhance and uplift the voices of others.

    Click here to watch the full video.




    Not 4 Sale in Big Blend Magazine

    In this article, Kevin Hancock’s book Not 4 Sale is introduced, giving a look into the reasons for Kevin’s journey to Pine Ridge and the ideas that began afterwards. After a series of solo trips to Pine Ridge, Kevin began to realize that we are all one tribe. This led to him rethinking the structure and future of Hancock Lumber to ensure that the environment fostered personal, inward growth of the tribes around him.

    Click here to read the full article.




    2016 Independent Author Network Award Winner: Religion and Spirituality Book of the Year!

    non-fictionNot For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse has been selected by the 2016 Independent Author Network Book of the Year Awards as a winner in the “Religion and Spirituality” category! The IAN category winners are now submitted for the Book of the Year Award and will be announced on September 1st.

     The IAN Book of the Year Awards in an annual contest open to all authors who are self published, or published by independent publishers (small, medium or otherwise). Click Here to read more about the award!

    For updated information and lots of new press coverage, or to listen to radio interviews from Kevin’s Radio Media Tour, visit our Related Links page!




    Not For Sale!

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Law of Attraction Talk Radio host Jewels Johnson about his new book Not 4 Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. He speaks about how important his journey to Pine Ridge was to finding his sense of purpose and rethinking how he leads his employees. Kevin’s quest brought him to a realization that he wants to help strengthen and enforce the voices of those who feel unheard.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.




    Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse

    In this podcast, Kevin speaks to Big Blend Radio host Lisa about leadership and spiritual connectivity. He shares the journey he took when he lost his voice and the lessons he was able to learn while searching for peace and healing. His quest brought him to an understanding of shared leadership and power dispersal in nature. He then brought that lesson back with him to his leadership position at Hancock Lumber. At his company, he was able to observe the changes in employee satisfaction and engagement when leadership began being a daily part of every individual’s life. Kevin finishes by speaking about the unification of a global tribe as people begin finding their voices and coming together.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.




    Not For Sale

    In this podcast, Kevin speaks to Conscious Thought With Leo host Magdalena Winkler about his new book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. Kevin shares his story, his journey to Pine Ridge, and the lessons he learned along the way. He dives into the idea that power is meant to be dispersed, meaning leadership should be shared among the many instead of collected at a single entity. By practicing this at Hancock Lumber, Kevin shares his findings about the company’s performance and how his employees have been able to find their own true voices.

    Click here to listen to the podcast.




    E-Book Now Available on Kindle!

    063Yesterday, NOT FOR SALE – FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE  launched it’s e-book on Kindle!

    The e-book is a unique digital experience with all the color and pictures of the printed version!




    Global Radio Tour Begins!

    NIEAseal-2014-Winner-VSMMy book, NOT FOR SALE – FINDING CENTER IN THE LAND OF CRAZY HORSE  began its global radio tour this morning LIVE on the Kathryn Zox show.  Her show broadcasts live on “Voice America/World Talk Radio” every Wednesday at 10 AM EST.

    My segment opened today’s show…which you can listed to via the following link:

    http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/93687/the-kathryn-zox-show

    The book received this radio tour as a result of winning the 2016 National Indie Excellence Award for independent books!  I want to thank NIEA for helping to give my book and story this “voice”!  In addition, it does make me laugh to know that the guy who wrote a book about losing his voice wins a RADIO tour as a prize!  Haha!

    This is the first of approximately two dozen shows I will be participating on throughout the summer and fall.  You can keep posted regarding what’s next on the web-site…if you want to listen live someday…or simply replay an episode.

    It was interesting to realize that pretty much every radio show today is broadcast WORLD WIDE!  In the Aquarian Age anyone can share their voice!

    Thank you!

     




    Pictures from Pine Ridge (just got back)!

    Hello!  I wanted to make my most recent pictures from Pine Ridge available!  I just returned from visit #9.  The book is gaining traction on the Rez and northern plains, which makes me happy!  I also keep expanding my circle…going deeper with existing friends and making new ones!

    AWARENESS + CONNECTIVITY = RECONCILIATION

    That is the formula…I feel…for transcending the deep, deep wounds.  Therefore anything you do to share this post…share past posts…or promote the book…contributes to the power of that circle.  We all belong to the same Tribe! Love!

    Kevin




    Sunset Above Singing Horse (AKA…I know why cowboys wear pants)

    FullSizeRenderFirst the humor of it all:

    I know why coboys wear pants.  I just keep forgetting.

    Everytime I walk up onto the rolling hills and grasslands above the Singing Horse Trading Post in shorts…I remember.

    I just spent the last 20 minutes picking tiny, tiny prickers out of my shins and ankles!

    One a more thoughtful note…here is an excerpt from my newest Pine Ridge journal…written less than an hour ago on the ridge line above the Singing Horse Trading Post just north of Manderson.  No judging it…the words just flow off my pen here sometimes…pure as snow, without really thinking about ego terms like ‘quality’.

    EXCERPT:

    “I am so still and grounded right now.  There is no need to move.

    I am planted in the earth, hands free.

    Stillness brings power.

    I am at this very moment…taking energy from the earth and giving energy back to the earth.  There is only one energy, to which all things belong.

    To try to understand this sacred source of power we give it human form…GOD…an old white man with a grey beard, knowing eyes, sandals and a white robe.  How funny and self-absorbed that is when you think about it.  White robes aren’t much more than 4,000 years old.  The Earth is 4.5 billion years old and the Universe 13.8 billion! We try to humanize the energy, when it should be the other way around.  We are the newcomers…but it’s all good either way!

    I am the only person here…The only person every to see this sunset…from this spot…on this night.  What did you see today that no one else every saw or will every see, from where you viewed it?  Many things no doubt, when you stop to ponder it.

    Meanwhile, the grass and the wind keep dancing.  Another timeless rhythm plays its sacred song.

    As I stand to leave the wind grows stronger…but of course it didn’t…it was me that changed.”

    Later, as I drifted down the hill, past Rosie’s horses, a poem came to me (and I wrote it while standing in the dark):

    “The sun is done and so am I…the fence cares not as I pass by.

    The grass still blows to its own beat…a dance only broken by my two feet.

    The horses graze without a care…be it night or day, they stay right there.

    The rhythm of the Plains has its own flow…that a busy man shall never know.

    But stop yourself and look around…for that which you seek can then be found.”

    Just a little live taste from Pine Ridge!  Thank you for reading!  Thank you for being you!  Wopila Tanka!  Love!

    Kevin




    People Are People!

    GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

    Yesterday was on of my favorite days on book tour!  I spent the morning at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.  I did a one hour book talk and visited with 20 men who live there.  Then we moved over to the women’s correctional center and did a one hour talk with 8 women there.  At the conclusion I donated 28 books…one for each participant to read.

    The event was voluntary so only resident inmates who wanted to attend were present, BUT I was SO IMPRESSED with the people who were there.

    They were interested, attentive and had lots of good comments, questions and perspectives.  They appreciated being respected as thinkers…that someone would come speak with them and share ideas.

    The event on the women’s side was perhaps the most inspiring.  There was a bit of magic in the room as we sat in a circle and talked about the book.  The group was so into the discussion that we collectively decided I would come back and have a book club discussion after they finished reading in a few weeks.

    I was excited about this opportunity to go to the prison because I felt that many people there could relate to and connect with the ideas and messages in my book.  The Sioux have a list of grievance so long and deep that it would be hard to count all the reasons they have to blame others for their situation…but…as I suggested at the prison…”The price for growth is to give up your grievances”…and that moving forward requires finding a path to forgive (not forget)…compartmentalize the past hurts…and look inward for the source of your own true strength.  As Joseph Campbell once wrote, “We are the truth we seek to know.”

    There was a lot of head nodding in the room as these ideas were shared.

    Context is such an interesting thing.  I was deep within the prison…behind 4 sets of double steel bar doors.  All the participants in the book discussion were dressed in blue.  There was no mistaking where we were.  Yet…if we moved the book club to a library…and changed clothes…you would have had no idea it was a group of prisoners.  Pretty much everyone waited after the talk concluded to shake hands, say thank you and share an idea or two of their own.  Each person was smart, thoughtful and interested in the dialogue.

    What everyone seemed to appreciate most was that they were being recognized.  The mere act of going to visit them…of seeing them as important…worthy of a book discussion…that was what they appreciated most.

    “They don’t even know we are here,” I have heard people say at Pine Ridge.  Being forgotten and cast aside is hard.

    “People are people,” I think this to myself all the time.  Prison, Pine Ridge, Casco, China, Europe, Africa…it doesn’t matter..it’s all one tribe…and…people are people.

    Wopila Tanka to Noreen Hopkins (activities director) at the prison for reading my book and connecting me with the people I spent time with yesterday morning!  I loved it!




    Kevin is headed back to Pine Ridge!

    In the movie Close Encounters, the overwhelmingly powerful culture from far away made contact and then left; the alien culture resisted the temptation to plant their flag and claim the land as their own.  Leave it to science fiction to come up with an implausible ending…
    Devil’s Tower, photographed by Kevin Hancock

    Kevin is headed back to Pine Ridge!

    On Wednesday June 22nd from 1-3pm, Kevin will make his first stop of the trip at the Devil’s Tower National Monument where he will be on hand to sign books and personally discuss his story with people who are visiting one of the many locations he writes about in his book!

    Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse is a unique iconoclastic memoir that traces one businessman’s journey deep into Indian country, and even deeper into his own soul. In a corporate world hallmarked by the never-ending quest for bigger, better, more, this CEO of one of America’s oldest family businesses contemplates an organizational structure where the goal is to do less, not more. In a 24/7 internet- wired world consumed with roles, responsibilities, and external accomplishments, Kevin learns to look inward for meaning and purpose. Through a series of successive, solo trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Kevin learns the following powerful lessons:

    – We all come from a tribe, and while the pull of the past is strong, the soul is here to individuate.

    – Leadership in the new Aquarian Age is about doing less, not more.  Those who hold the power often overreach; they go too far.

    – Busyness is not living, and personal growth lies in looking inward, not outward.

    – The boundaries that have been set to divide people are not real.  In the end, we’re all one tribe.

    In a modern-day adventure strikingly similar to the ancient Lakota Vision Quest rite, Kevin separates from his own tribe for the purpose of seeking a deeper sense of self. Along the way, Kevin comes to be thankful for the partial loss of his own speaking voice as he learns it was his soul’s way of getting him to stop working, stop leading, stop caretaking. In losing consistent access to his voice, Kevin discovers a pathway, a calling, to strengthening the voices of others, which he uses to think differently about the future of Pine Ridge, the future of Hancock Lumber, and the future of tribes everywhere.

    Devil’s Tower is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills. This site is considered Sacred to the Lakota and many other tribes that have a connection to the area. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in North America. Devils Tower entices us to explore and define our place in the natural and cultural world.

    For more information and upcoming dates for summer events, please visit the Upcoming Events tab on our website, www.seventhpowerpress.com.

     




    It is time!

    First, I want to share a link to the Muskie Access to Justice Award dinner, held here in Maine on May 25, 2016.  The event was a celebration of what I suggested that night was the single most important idea in human history: “equal access to justice for all”.  An idea so delicate that constant vigilance is required.  An idea difficult to achieve but worthy of pursuit. Kevin Hancock Honored Muskie Access to Justice Award

    The event also was another small step in advancing CONNECTIVITY, AWARENESS & RECONCILIATION for Pine Ridge, and other Indian reservations globally.  Pine Ridge was reference repeatedly that night to an audience in Maine that otherwise might not be exposed to a story that is still unfolding.  Columbus did not discover a new world.  People already lived here.

    A new day is ready to dawn however.  That day was actually foreseen long ago by Black Elk, Crazy Horse and others.  Depending upon the Lakota story that is told…six or seven generations after the beginning of the “Reservation era”  (1870’s)…the circle would be made whole again…and humanity would begin to see itself as the single tribe it really is.  The following quote was in the center of the Muskie event program last week.  The power and potential of these words give me goosebumps each time I read them…

    “I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole earth will become one circle again.  In that day, there will be those among the Lakota who will carry knowledge and understanding of unity among all living things and the young white ones will come to those of my people and ask for this wisdom.  I salute the light within your eyes where the whole Universe dwells.  For when you are at that center within you and I am that place within me, we shall be one.”

    -Crazy Horse

    The day that Crazy Horse spoke of long ago is upon us.  It is time…but we must seize it.  It is time…

    Kevin Hancock




    Connectivity

    “Attention is the rarest & purest form of generosity.” – Simone Weil

    I want to start with something funny.  One thing I love about Pine Ridge is the powerful sense of humor and playfulness that lives in the hearts of the people there.  I recently gave a small amount of money to a friend from Pine Ridge.  As soon as she received the money she sent me the following text:  “OMG!  Wopila Tanka (big thanks)!  I am going to repay you as soon as we get the Black Hills back!”

    I laughed all day from that one message!

    I also wanted to share with you that my book (NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse) won another award from the National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA) based in Santa Barbara, California.  Each year, the NIEA gives out four “Sponsor’s Choice Prizes” to four books that they feel represent the best of what independent publishing has to offer.  Each prize gets a major promotional package.

    My book ended up being selected and awarded the “Radio Media Tour” promoted by Conscious Media Relations (CRM) (http://consciousmediarelations.com/).

    As a result, the book is going to be professionally marketed by their agency to over 3,000 radio shows seeking “personal development/self-help/conscious living/wellness/spirituality/transformational” guidance.

    You can read more in the link below.  As someone who has helped me or been passionate about the book, I wanted to share this with you and say Wopila Tanka!

    http://www.indieexcellence.com/sponsors-choice-awards.htm

    This all makes me happy because, for me, this whole exercise is about raising awareness & connectivity between the “tribes” of the world and inviting self-reflection on an individual level.  As the Lakota knew long ago, tribes are made strong one soul at a time.

    It’s not about selling books for me…it’s about sharing and spreading ideas…strengthening the voices of others!

    Thank you for help me spread the word!  In the Aquarian Age…readers (not publishers) sell books!

    Kevin Hancock

     




    Momentum is Building!

    Hello!  Just sharing a couple of exciting updates.

    First, we recently learned that our book NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse won a national award for independent book excellence!  Specifically, the book was selected by the National Indie Excellence Awards (NIEA) (based in Los Angeles) as THE 2016 winner in the “Leadership” book category.  The book was also one of only three finalists in the “Spirituality” category.  You can learn more at www.indieexcellence.com.

    Second, our book was picked up by the National Grasslands Visitors Center in Wall, South Dakota! (http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/parks-monuments/buffalo-gap-national-grassland) The book will soon be “for sale” there and is already for sale at Devils Tower National Monument!

    We have nearly sold out our first printing.  The book’s second edition is going to print this week, so look for it coming soon!

    Wopila Tanka!

     




    2016 Maine Live Event – Kevin Hancock

    At Maine Live, 14 speakers told us their stories of integrity, tenacity, and courage. For Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, that story is about losing his voice to a rare neurological disorder and then finding it again after spending time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There, he learned an important lesson about power and the individual.

    “What if we could create an organization where everybody led? Where every voice felt heard, respected, valued, trusted, and empowered?” – Kevin Hancock

    Click here to watch the full keynote video.




    Video of Kevin’s Maine Live presentation now posted online

    1. MaineLive_screenVideos now available online! At the 2nd Annual Maine Live on March 24th, 14 speakers shared their stories of integrity, tenacity, and courage. For Kevin Hancock, CEO of Hancock Lumber Company, that story is about losing his voice to a rare neurological disorder and then finding it again after spending time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. There, he learned an important lesson about power and the individual.“What if we could create an organization where everybody led?Where every voice felt heard, respected, valued, trusted, and empowered?” Watch now.

    In addition to Kevin’s message above, here are a few of our favorite reflections from the day: (click here to watch any or all 14 speaker presentations)

    • Mark Bessire | Portland Museum of Art:  There doesn’t need to be conflict between the traditional and the modern; ideas from both worlds can coexist. There is power in creating meaningful traditions with family, friends, organizations, and communities.
    • Jan Kearce | Lift 360: Ask yourself, “What am I a commitment to?”. Embody your purpose. YOU are enough to make it happen. Re-write your story – think about the obituary you’d write for the life you’re leading; now, think about the obituary you’d write for yourself for the life you WANT to lead.  Take time to pause and reflect; don’t burn yourself out.
    • George Neptune | Abbe Museum: Pass on tradition/language/stories of your tribe, so as to “save it for those not yet born”. Find balance, embrace your two spirits – it is OK to have feet in multiple worlds.
    • Steve Malcom | Knickerbocker Group: Spend time “kicking the dirt”…having conversations about the “What ifs” and “Why nots”. Throw rocks (ideas) out there to make ripples and share ideas; it might take time for them to come back and become reality, but get your ideas out there.  Take time to listen, really listen and be in the present without judging or making an opinion too quickly. The world is a dynamic place that is ALWAYS changing. Look for those moments to find opportunity.
    • Tae Chong | Startmart CEIRacism is a bad business model. Look at ALL kinds of people as an asset and economic opportunity in a state that is facing a major labor crisis.  A few eye opening Maine stats that Tae shared:
      • By 2022, 1 in 4 Mainers will be over 65
      • 100,000 workers will be needed in Maine in the next 10 years
      • 44 Median Age of Mainer
      • Maine had more deaths than births in 2015
      • Maine is older than Florida
      • Maine is the oldest and whitest state
    • Beth Shissler | Sea Bags: Sea Bags is green in product and process, sourcing USA materials and keeping manufacturing and jobs in Maine!  Look for the FIT in the people you bring to your organization. HR is all about cultural fit.
    • Ben Fowlie | Camden Int’l Film Festival:  Don’t shy away from difficult topics; leverage the arts to spark local dialogue and create social change.
    • Laurie Lachance | Thomas College“Nia” = purpose.  Let your life unfold down an unintentional path, intentionally, and you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be–but, only if you are paying attention during threshold moments.  Pay attention. Listen. Stop. Pause. Reflect.  Ask yourself, “What are my unique gifts?” and seize the opportunities in front of you.
    • Leslie Oster | Aurora Provisions: Slow down and set a place for yourself at the table.  Sharing your gifts and passion with the world will only be fulfilling if you put a seat at the table for YOU.
    • Sara Shifrin | Gould Academy’s Family Ideas Center: View the library as a room full of ideas, possibilities and thinking – it’s not just a room full of books.  Resist the temptation to find solutions; observe, learn, listen, and employ design thinking to bring new ideas to life.
    • Yellow Light Breen | Maine Development FoundationThere is a distinct difference between feeling comfortable and fitting in. Sector jargon- “internal languages” – get in the way of making change; ideas matter, people matter, and take time to celebrate success. We all like to be on a winning team.
    • Mike Katz | Camp SunshineWorking with terminally ill children makes one very humbled and reflective. Acts of kindness make a lifelong impact. Volunteer; make a difference!
    • Heather Sanborn | Rising Tide Brewery: Ask the ones you love around you what they want to do in life. “A rising tide lifts all boats” – there is such art and meaning behind naming a child, a non-profit, a business that you are passionate about.  Think about the community and power in “helping a neighbor”, and leveraging the “spirit of collegiality” — the cooperative relationship of colleagues. A collaborative ethos is best; we are all a part of “Team Maine”!



    Mark Your Calendars for the month of May!

    imageMark your calendars! May is a busy month and full of a variety of opportunities to listen to Kevin speak about this about his book and the lessons he learned and applied during his time on the Pine Ridge reservation. Here is a schedule of events:

    • Friday 5/6 12:30-2pm: Architects of Tomorrow event at the East Auburn Baptist Church. Kevin will be the keynote speaker for this year’s event, Architects of Tomorrow: Build leaders within your organization. Join us to learn what is takes to become a strong leader who defines the path, clarifies the direction, leads the team and executes the vision. Register today by emailing [email protected]; $99 Registration, lunch and conference materials included.
    • Thursday 5/12 6:30-7:30pm: Author talk & book signing at Falmouth Memorial Library
    • Thursday 5/19 5:30-7:30pm: Author talk & book signing at The Mustard Seed Bookstore
    • Thursday 5/26 12-2pm: Join members of the business community at a “Lunch and Learn” event at the Scarborough Public Library for an opportunity to discuss Kevin’s book!

    Remember to check back often to the upcoming events section of our website, as this list continues to grow. We hope to see you at any or all of these events!




    Sign Our Online Pledge!

    Apologies

    On the cusp of this great opportunity to share an article recently published in the New York Times about Kevin and his book, A Lumber Executive Loses His Voice and Finds Balance, we wanted to share something else too!

    A few months back, Kevin shared an excerpt from his book of a written apology to the people of Pine Ridge that both recognized, and apologized for what happened. We were excited to see that almost 500 people felt the same way and were willing to sign our online pledge!

    It is our hope that you will continue to share this excerpt with the people around you, because as it was said before, awareness, in and of itself, is a powerful act.

    Please visit the apology written by Kevin at the following link:

    http://www.seventhpower.org/the-apology/

    Here, you can add your name and pass it on!




    The idea is everywhere!

    FullSizeRenderThe town of Casco, where I live, has one traffic light.  It only blinks, never turning fully red.  Two buildings down from the old, red Hancock Lumber office on Pleasant Lake is the Casco Village Variety store.  I go there most every day.

    Inside the store, to the left of the door, is a small white marker board where Evelyn, the owner, posts a quote each morning.  The short messages are so good that I have started going in to read them even if I don’t really need anything from the store.

    This morning’s quote reads:

    “Lend yourself to others, but give yourself to yourself.”

    That one sentence is the essence of my book NOT FOR SALE.    (took me 500 pages to say it!!!!)

    Long ago, before the coming of the horses, the Lakota were given Seven Sacred Rites by the White Buffalo Calf Woman.  One of those rites was the Vision Quest (Hanbleycheya).  In the Vision Quest rite, young men coming of age and adults at transformation times in their lives, would leave their tribe and journey alone into the wilderness for the purpose of seeking a vision.  The object was to gain a deeper sense of the connectivity all living things share with each other and the Great Spirit.  Then, under those quiet and meditative condition, it was often possible to hear more clearly the whispers of your own soul (the soul always whipsers but the ego doesn’t always listen).

    The idea was to gain insight into that which inspired YOU…to see…for a moment…your unique path and core values.  Then you were expected to return to your tribe…share the vision you had received…and live your life in accordance with what you learned.

    The idea was simple but powerful…if EVERY individual was strong because they were being true first to themselves, than the tribe would be strong.  As Rudyard Kipling wrote, “The strength of the pack is the wolf”.

    In this way, being selfish is selfless.  When we listen first to ourselves…and follow our individual path of truth…we become the most valuable to others.

    All that from the morning quote…on the left hand side of the door…at the Casco Village Variety store…

    It’s everywhere!

    “Your sacred space is where you can find yourself, again and again.”

    • Joseph Campbell

     

     




    New York Times Features Kevin Hancock!

    KH_NYT2016

    The New York Times features Kevin Hancock in their March 9th online article titled, “A Lumber Executive Loses His Voice and Finds Balance”.Writer Jennifer Van Allen recounts the past decade and Kevin’s journey – how losing his voice led to a series of unexpected events, ultimately helping Kevin redefine his role as CEO and share power more broadly within the 6th generation, family-owned organization led by its 458 employees. Anyone interested in learning more about leadership, opening oneself up to new ideas and experiences, and living beyond the definition of  “roles” should take a look at this article and learn more about Kevin’s book.

    What a day when the New York Times features your story! It is an honor to share these opportunities and lessons beyond the state, and connect with like-minded leaders around the country. Pick up your copy of The New York Times tomorrow, March 10th and share in our excitement!

    POST WRITTEN BY KOURTNEY MCLEAN




    Author talk events and the value of book reviews!

    IMG_1326
    On the shelf at the Portland Museum of Art Bookstore

    Looking for something fun to do next week? Pick up a copy of Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse and join us at the Bridgton Public Library on Tuesday, 3/8 from 4-6pm when Kevin Hancock will be on hand to discuss his book and sign copies! Books are for sale at the library now, or, the night of the event.

    Copies can also be purchased at our newest bookstore in the Portland Museum of Art. While there, check out the amazing exhibit featuring the work of Edward Curtis, now through 5/29, featuring photographs he took while studying to write his book, The North American Indian. 

    In the upcoming months, Kevin Hancock will be making appearances at the Falmouth Memorial Library, The Mustard Seed Bookstore, Scarborough Public Library, and Raymond Public Library to discuss and sign copies of his book. In addition, you can now find the book at Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick and Maine Coast Books in Damariscotta!

    We also wanted to share this exciting review recently posted on Amazon from a reader:

    “Kevin has written a very profound and moving book. What appears to be leadership lessons turns out to be a spiritual journey, in its deepest sense. It is personal and authentic, and written with a great style. We ALL can learn from this gifted author.”

    Sharing your thoughts help share this story, and we would love to hear your feedback on our Amazon product page. To do so, simply click on the link below, view the customer reviews, and share your own thoughts about the book.

    images




    Organizations where EVERYONE leads!

    http://www.hancocklumber.com/kevin-hancock-discusses-leadership-on-the-hr-power-hour/

    HR_power_hourI recently appeared on the “HR Power Hour” radio show on WLOB news & talk.  During the show I spoke about creating a work culture where EVERY VOICE MATTERS.  Organizations where everyone leads and feels heard will outperform those where just a few hold all the power.

    I feel this idea is valuable to any organization whether it is a business, a church, a sports team or an Indian Reservation.  The last time the Lakota were powerful and independent, the individual was the center of the tribes strength.  Today, government is the center and the people have lost their voice.  When this is reversed, Pine Ridge will regain its strength and balance.

    I hope you enjoy this podcast and find it relevant for the organizations and tribes you belong to!

    Wopila Tanka!

    Kevin Hancock




    Exciting New Additions to the Website!

    Exciting things are happening as we continue to spread the word about Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse! We are excited to share these updates with you, and share with you some recently added sections to our website!

     

    IMG_1222The book is currently being sold in 17 bookstores in the New England and Dakotas regions and the number continues to grow! Just this week, we added The Book Review Bookstore in Falmouth, Maine to the list. Check out our new “Bookstores” tab to see a complete list of stores now selling the book!

    In addition, we have been working to schedule a number of author events to create even more awareness about the book. Bridgton Books, The Good Life Market, the Casco Public Library and the Harrison Public Library have all hosted events, just to name a few. Please check out our events calendar during the upcoming year to see all of the author events taking place.

    Here are a couple upcoming events to note:

    • Author talk and book signing on Monday February 22nd from 6-7pm at the Auburn Public Library.
    • Author talk and book signing on Tuesday March 8th at 4pm at the Bridgton Public Library.

    There have been a number of articles in different publications featuring Kevin and his book such as:

    • The National Spasmodic Dysphonia Association
    • Maine Home + Design
    • Lumber Co-Operator
    • Prosales Magazine
    • MaineBiz

    A full list of these with links to the articles can be found on our website under the “Related Links” tab.

    Lastly, we encourage you to check out HR Power Radio to listen to Kevin Hancock discuss his book on the radio show that aired this past Saturday!

    We look forward to sending you updates as things continue to happen, and hope you find these exciting new additions to the website helpful!




    Life Lessons Lead to LBM Changes at Hancock Lumber

    Kevin Hancock’s journey of self discovery after losing his voice is brought to life in his new book Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse. Kevin’s quest brought him to the realization that the structure of Hancock Lumber could drastically change and improve employee engagement and job satisfaction.

    “I thought, what if this came to an organization where everyone led and everyone had a voice and their opinion and perspectives mattered. That would be more powerful than an organization where just a few people led. Hancock Lumber has always been an organization where people’s opinions were valued, but we have taken that to another level. ” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    Leading by Listening

    In this article, Kevin Hancock is interviewed about his journey to finding a new leadership style by listening more to others. Kevin’s new management initiative helps bring Hancock Lumber to new highs, by creating a lean structure and maximizing employee engagement. They also talk about his new book, Not For Sale: Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse.

    To read the full article, click here.




    The Apology

    The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.
    The entrance to one of the housing clusters in the village of Wounded Knee, modern day.

    I was driving through the Black Hills after my second trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation when the idea hit me.  AWARENESS, in and of itself, is a powerful act.  More government programs won’t change Pine Ridge.  What is needed is a sincere, thoughtful apology; recognition of what happened.  So I grabbed my journal…took out my pen…and began to write.  I wrote an apology.

    Then I had another idea.  What if the apology went viral?  What if thousands upon thousands of people signed it and passed it on?

    Please visit the apology I wrote at the following link:

    The Apology

    From there you can sign on to the apology…add you name to the list…and then pass it on!

    If just 100 people sign onto the apology with me, and then share it with 10 more people each, in just 4 steps this apology will reach 1,000,000 people.  In Sioux culture, the number 4 is considered sacred.

    “Apologies aren’t meant to change the past.  They are meant to change the future.”

    -Kevin Hancock (Casco Village Church.  September 27, 2015.)

    Join the apology and pass it on!

    Wopila Tanka (Big Thanks)!




    The Great Awakening – Transcending Tribalism

    “Now you can see today why the world is in trouble.  What is the social field today?  The social field is the planet, and there isn’t a single system of action that has to do with the planet.  They all have to do with one interest group or another.” – Joseph Campbell

    There was a time in human history when tribalism was necessary for survival.  Today, tribalism is what often threatens survival.  How ironic!

    I wonder who see this among the world’s leaders today?  For many who hold power, there must be fear in the notion of tribal integration…of connecting more deeply with people from away.  The entire dogma of most tribes is built upon the need to stay separated.  The power construct of the world today is dependent upon the compartmentalization of peoples into distinct groups.  Distrust of the other tribes is what perpetuates the need for your own.

    It is hard to break through the barrier of tribalism when there are those who will (knowingly or unknowingly) abuse it’s existence for the advancement of their own personal power.

    I wonder who sees this among the people, the average citizens of the worlds respective tribes?

    A thousand years from now what will humans think of all the tribal borders and boundaries that artificially segregate the planet today?  How unnecessary, expensive and limiting will it all appear from afar?

    Every time I leave the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, or the Black Hills, and drive into Wyoming I stop at the sign that tells me I am leaving one state and entering another.  The border makes me smile and laugh out loud even though I am usually alone there!

    “This border is not real,” I say softly, but defiantly, with a friendly smile.  “It is an artificial construct claiming territory between governors and legislatures.”  The wind and the grass and the sun care not about this invisible line.

    IMG_0003

    The myth of tribalism will someday be one of the great awakenings of human social development.  You can see the limitations and consequences of this myth at every turn.  I see it today in the history that created the Pine Ridge Reservation.

    Approximately 200,000 years ago, early humans began migrating north out of Africa.  Over time, some travel further north into Europe.  Others moved east into Asia.  By boat and with the assistance of an Ice Age, the descendants of some of those who long ago traveled east moved down into the Americas.  Eventually, the descendants of some of those who migrated west began traveling by boat in search of new lands; in search of new worlds.  In 1492, the descendants of those who went east were reunited with the descendants of those who went west…both groups thinking they were meeting each other for the first time…neither group recognizing the other…neither group realizing that they all belonged to the same tribe…the human tribe.

    “I stood upon the highest mountain of the world and I knew more than I saw, I understood more than I knew, because I was seeing in a sacred manner.  And what I saw were the hoops of all the nations interlocking in on great circle.” – Black Elk 

     

     




    Tribalism

    The sign in front of this housing cluster at Wounded Knee symbolizes the longstanding ineffectiveness of government at Pine Ridge.

    The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide.  He spoke recently at Harvard University about tribalism.  The Associated Press summarized his speach as follows:
    “He said globalization should not mean the creation of a single, homogenized society where all differences are erased, but one where what we have in common and what makes us different is respected.”

    The Aga Khan was speaking of the relationship between the Christian and Muslim worlds but I also immediately thought of Pine Ridge.

    I think that this cuts to the heart of the challenge for the Sioux reservations of the northern plains.  On the one hand there is a desire for greater economic and social connectivity, inclusion and integration.  On the other hand, lives the fear of losing heritage and culture.  The problem is the feeling that we have to choose one or the other.  That notion is limiting.

    A new paradigm might be the embrace of both ideas.  Easier said than done I am sure but in Lakota society the direction one faces is considered to be important…because it determines where you end up.

     

     




    What if we slowed down?

    Hello!  I want to share this short essay by Sophie Gregoire that my daughter Abby shared with me this morning!

    What If We Slowed Down?

    The old abandoned buildings of the northern plains slowly make their circle back into the earth.
    The old abandoned buildings of the northern plains slowly make their circle back into the earth.




    We are the truth we seek to know!

    The single wild flower I study, while lying on my stomach that morning on the hilltop above the trading post. The closer I look, the more I see.
    The single wild flower I study, while lying on my stomach that morning on the hilltop above the trading post. The closer I look, the more I see.

    To all my Pine Ridge friends –           This quote reminds me of Pine Ridge…it reminds me of Casco, Maine…it reminds me of planet earth…it reminds me of being human.  We are all one tribe and we are the truth we seek to know…

     

     

    Why We Struggle to find ourselves and How to do it.

    “For a long time I’ve had a bit of an obsession with coming home. Not my physical home, but HOME with a capital H. Being with myself. Knowing who I was. Leaning back into me and having that “AH” feeling of being totally whole and totally at peace. I felt like there was something missing, and that I needed to find that missing piece to complete the puzzle. I thought that if I found the right job, or met the right man, or had the right friends, or went on the right adventure that I would find it.

    The journey to the self is much less of a linear path to be trodden and much more of a turning back to ourselves.  It’s a stopping, a slowing down, and the realization that we are already complete and whole.  But, it wasn’t until I stopped trying to get somewhere, be it the perfect future or the end of a spiritual path that I could see that I was what I was looking for. And, that I’m here not out there.

    So call off the search. You don’t need to be found. you’re already here.”

    – Jane Doherty




    Habitat For Humanity – Annual Raise the Roof Gala

    On Wednesday I spoke at the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland annual “Raise the Roof Gala”.  I enjoyed this opportunity becasue Habitat for Humanity is modeling the way for organizational effectiveness.  Habitat for Humanity celebrates the power of the individual spirit.  The volunteers and homeowners who are part of the organization are given important roles.  Their voices are strong!

    I suggested Wednesday night that the Aquarian Age is going to be about a transition from institutions holding the power to individuals holding the power.  Organizations that celebrate the individual are going to attract people and support.  Organizations that resist sharing power are going to lose ground.

    Habitat for Humanity is an orgainzation that strengthens the voices of others.  In doing so, their power goes far beyond building houses!  They are a modeling the way forward for others!

     




    Bethel Sawmill – Book Day!

    I spent the day at our sawmill in Bethel, Maine yesterday.  At the end of the work day, I gave each of the 103 people who work there a copy of my book, NOT FOR SALE – Finding Center in the Land of Crazy Horse!

    The day before I had personalized each book…took almost 3 hours!

    I wanted to do that as a show of respect.  I never want people at Hancock Lumber to feel like they are only wanted for their physical work.  I want every person to feel important for their ideas and opinions.  That’s really what my book stands for…strengthening voices…at home and at Pine Ridge!




    Spreading the word!

    19576_280220683595_3109022_nSunday, I did a book talk at the Casco Library (my hometown library)!  1/2 of my former english teachers were there! That was a little overwhelming!  Sold 20 books.

    Yesterday we shipped 12 books from on-line orders to 7 different states!

    Today I am giving a book to all 103 people who work at our mill in Bethel.  Every voice matters!  In addition, we are hosting a group of medical professionals from Central Maine Health Care at the mill today.  We are sharing lean strategies for making the voices of employees and customers stronger in health care and manufacturing.  I am giving them all a copy of the book!

    The word is spreading!  In the end, it’s all one tribe!




    Balance

    I want to share this great, short video.  It summarizes what happened in just 20 years after wolves were reintroduced to the Yellowstone ecosystem.  This story reinforces the Lakota view of the interconnectedness of all living creatures.  Balance is nature’s optimal state.  This also makes me think of human organizations and how easily they can fall out of balance if the needs of certain groups of individuals within the organization are neglected or excluded.  It takes every member of the tribe to achieve optimal balance in a community (be it a reservation, a company, a state, a nation or a planet).

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/ysa5OBhXz-Q?feature=player_embedded

    Mitakuye Oyasin (“All things are one thing.”  “We are all related.”)




    Hancock Lumber’s Kevin Hancock on Growing After the Recession

    Kevin Hancock is interviewed in this article about Hancock Lumber’s growth after the economic recession. During this time, Kevin lost his voice, which creates a new leadership style centered around listening to others more than speaking.

    “I learned that leadership is about doing less, not more. It was letting people who have responsibility own their issues and opportunities to learn and make decisions.” – Kevin Hancock

    To read the full article, click here.




    Spiritual Essence #216

    In this podcast, Kevin Hancock speaks with Love Maine Radio Podcast host Dr. Lisa Belisle about his journey to Pine Ridge. Kevin shares his draw to Pine Ridge and the connection he feels to the tribe there. During his quest to find peace with the loss of his voice, Kevin wanted to begin strengthening the voices of others who felt unheard. Kevin also explains the spiritual connection he feels to the land, the people, and the philosophy of the tribe.

    Click here to listen to the full podcast.




    1st Library Event & Book Signing

    I had my first library event and book signing last evening at the Harrison Public Library!  It was great to see how vibrant libraries are reinventing themselves!

    There were 20 people there.  We sold 14 books.  Most refresing was the notion of an evening of discussion…a bit of a lost venue.  No television…no internet…instead a discussion about my book and the themes that it plays off.

    My book is about strengthening voices.  I talked about my voice disorder and the calling it has come to represent for me to help strengthen the voices of others.  At Hancock Lumber, that translates into a desire to create a company where everyone leads…where everyone feels heard and valued.  At Pine Ridge, it translates into encouraging people to look inward for their own personal source of strength.  This was the tradition of the Lakota represented in the Vision Quest rite of passage.  Finally, for me, the concept represents listening to my own inner voice and allowing it to be free and served.

    This book is definately striking a cord with people.  I can feel it.  They tell me…they write me.  The feedback is incredibly sincere and powerful.  I think there are a lot of people SEARCHING for a bit more meaning…SEARCHING to transcend “busyness”.

    Wopila Tanka!