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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.

 




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”!



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




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.”)




NOT FORGOTTEN

Not Forgotten!I spoke today at the annual Maine Youth Leadership Conference (MYL) (www.maineyouthleadership.org). MYL is one of my favorite organizations.  Each year it brings 10th grade “ambassadors” from every high school in Maine to come together for a program of leadership development, social tolerance and personal exploration.  For the past two years I have given the Friday morning talk to the group, during which I have shared my learnings and adventures at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

My talk explores five themes:

  1. Overreaching. Those who hold the power in organizations often over reach.  They go too far.  Overreaching has consequences.  The conquest of the tribes of the Great Plains during America’s western expansion is one such example (from which there are still  communities among us trying to recover).
  2. We all come from a tribe. We all come from a tribe (family, neighborhood, community, region).  Our tribes pull on us all to act a certain way and to do certain things.  But we are all here on this earth to individuate; we are all here to hear our own callings and become the person our soul wants to be.
  3. When we serve ourselves we strengthen our tribe. In this respect, being selfish is selfless for when we find the people, places and activities that truly inspire us we give the most back to the world we live in.
  4. When it comes to leadership, less is more. In my talk, I share my story of losing my voice to Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD).  SD is a rare voice disorder that restricts speech.  I acquired the disorder in 2009.  Sometimes I can talk freely.  Sometimes I can’t.  SD forced me lead differently and that turned out to be a blessing.  I have since come to believe that every CEO should lose his or her voice, at least for a time.  When you lose your voice, as the leader of an organization you…listen more, ask questions, pick your spots more carefully and share the leadership stage with others.  I have since become passionate about creating organizations where everyone leads and strengthening the voices of every member of the tribe (be it Hancock Lumber or Pine Ridge).
  5. Mitakuye Oyasin. Mitakuye Oyasin is a Lakota phrase that means “we are all related”.  This concept lives at the center of Lakota spirituality and it has scientific principles supporting it.  Lakota philosophy believes that all things that live, have lived or shall live are related as everything that lives come from and returns to the earth.  All living things are comprised of the same elements and particles.  From the earth to the earth.  It is in this way, for example, that the Lakota viewed the buffalo as their “four legged brothers”.  I have come to believe that Mitakuye Oyasin is a hidden revelation for our planet.  Once rediscovered, the idea changes the way people view the world.  The boundaries we see all around us are actually artificial, not real.  In the end, we are all one tribe even though we have convinced ourselves otherwise.

During my talk I told the students at MYL that after the Lakota were defeated in the 1870’s, they were sequestered out of the way on a series of remote reservations.  For the next three generations, American public policy was to “remake” the Indians so they could live successfully in the white world.  Children were removed from their homes (well into the 1950’s and 1960’s) and sent off to unforgiving Indian boarding school to be remade.  Their hair was cut, their dress was changed, their language and customs were forbidden.  They were conquered then colonized.  The effects of this overreaching are still being felt as the reservations on the Northern Plains are to this day among the poorest and most self-destructive places in America.  In elementary school we are taught that “Columbus discovered a new world” but people already lived here.

My experiences at Pine Ridge have shown me that the people who live there have all the skills and talents necessary rise above the transgressions of the past and to soar like their ancestors.  No one needs to save or fix them.  At the same time, the people who live there need to feel recognized, acknowledged and respected.  “They don’t even know we are here,” is a common theme I hear at Pine Ridge.

At the conclusion of my talk, the program coordinators made me wait as a group of students went out in the hall.  A few moments later they returned with dozens of back packs and school supplies they had organized for me to send to Pine Ridge as a gesture that says “you are not forgotten”.  People cried, smiled and celebrated.  A short while later, my Jeep was loaded with backpacks.

A guy from a  lumber company in Maine and a group of 10th graders from the same state were together reaching out to the people of Pine Ridge saying…we are all related…you are respected…you are not forgotten…be well…go forth in peace.

So cool, I thought to myself as I drove away.  Nowhere in my “job description” at our main office in Casco does it say I am supposed to be talking to students at MYL or increasing awareness at Pine Ridge.  We all need to listen for our callings and not lose ourselves in the 24/7 churn of “bigger, better, more”.  It’s all one tribe and each person on this planet is here to individuate and find their own true path.