The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guess honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

–Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks

The Practice of Reflective Leadership

For more than thir­ty years I’ve been fas­ci­nat­ed by how as lead­ers we increase our self-knowl­edge through reflec­tion and how in turn this helps us:

• gain insight into our beliefs, val­ues and motivations

• chal­lenge unhelp­ful thought pat­terns and behaviors

• increase sen­si­tiv­i­ty to the needs and emo­tions of others

• stay ground­ed and resilient in the face of chal­lenge and adversity.

Beyond these ben­e­fits, it’s also clear that our capac­i­ties to self-reflect, learn and enact per­son­al changes can be a vital mod­el for oth­ers. A lead­er’s per­son­al growth incul­cates the val­ue of self-knowl­edge as part of an orga­ni­za­tion’s culture.

In his book, Wis­er: The Sci­en­tif­ic Roots of Wis­dom, Com­pas­sion, and What Makes Us Good, neu­ropsy­chi­a­trist Dilip Jesse dis­tin­guish­es self-reflec­tion from self-aware­ness, call­ing out self-reflec­tion as seem­ing to be “a unique­ly human trait.”  Mem­bers of oth­er species may rec­og­nize their indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and in that sense be self-aware, but only humans appear to intro­spect, mean­ing we are able to exam­ine “our own men­tal and emo­tion­al process­es to bet­ter under­stand their fun­da­men­tal nature, pur­pose and essence…a pro­found­ly impor­tant and obvi­ous ele­ment of wisdom.”

Would you like to learn more about reflec­tive lead­er­ship prac­tices and see how you can apply them, what­ev­er your orga­ni­za­tion­al role? If so, that’s won­der­ful and you’ll want to start or con­tin­ue your inner work with aware­ness of the fun­da­men­tal rea­sons that it is vital to you. It might, for exam­ple, relate to expe­ri­ences of pain or uncer­tain­ty, anx­i­ety or to deep curios­i­ty about your iden­ti­ty, pur­pose and your vision for your work. To be of val­ue, you must be ready to under­take mean­ing­ful self-inquiry.

If you are ready, please be in touch at this address so that we can set up a time to talk. As a long-time, inde­pen­dent lead­er­ship coach and cul­ture change con­sul­tant, I col­lab­o­rate with clients on design of coach­ing and con­sult­ing efforts cus­tomized to per­son­al needs, inter­ests, appli­ca­tions and aspirations. 

Recent­ly, I’ve assem­bled a guide­book for reflec­tive leaders: 

Screenshot 2023-01-09 at 1.11.36 PM

It’s about 200 pages filled with a wide vari­ety of self-inquiries, exer­cis­es and stim­u­lat­ing ideas. We can use this book as a gen­er­al foun­da­tion and ref­er­ence for coach­ing work we do togeth­er. Here is a selec­tion from the book’s table of contents:

Intro­duc­tion: How to be a reflec­tive leader


• What is my core lead­er­ship question?

• What is my conditioning?


• How deep does my empa­thy go?

• How good a part­ner am I?


• What are my boundaries?

• How well do I man­age self-doubt?

Tough emo­tions

• How well do I meet anxiety?

• How well do I meet guilt?

Ref­er­ence points

• What are my cor­po­rate values? 

• What is my rela­tion­ship to power?

Growth and change

• What are my blind spots?

• How good am I at get­ting unstuck?


• What is the nature of the orga­ni­za­tion I want to create?

• What is my legacy?

A Vision of Hope

For addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about me, please access my unfold­ing lead­er­ship website.

I look for­ward to hear­ing from you!



  • José G. Hernández wrote:

    Dan, thanks for shar­ing this. This book looks very pow­er­ful for per­son­al reflex­ion. Will you be sell­ing it? If so, I’ll defin­i­tive­ly would like to buy a copy. Thank you, José.

  • Thank you so much, José! The book is not quite done, but yes I would like to sell it even­tu­al­ly. I will send you some details now sep­a­rate­ly via email.

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