EP109: Don Frick – Zelensky & Servant Leadership (Part 1)
On the day when he first read Greenleaf’s essay The Servant as Leader in 1986, Don Frick decided to dedicate the rest of his career to understanding and teaching Greenleaf’s ideas about servant leadership. Since then, he has written books and essays about servant leadership—including Greenleaf’s biography—made presentations, conducted workshops, taught graduate seminars, and consulted with corporations on the principles of servant leadership. He is currently working on another book that offers details about how various organizations have implemented servant leadership. Before encountering Greenleaf’s work, Don engaged in multiple careers, including: managing departments at a university and museum of art; university teaching; television, radio, and film writing, production, and performance; trainer; specialist in advertising and marketing for Fortune 500 companies, plus an entrepreneur. His formal education includes a B.S. in Education, Master of Divinity, and PhD in Leadership and Organizational Studies.
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Welcome to In Search of the new compassionate male. My name is Clay Boykin, I support this podcast through my coaching practice. I help people visualize and harmonize find direction and meaning or simply get unstuck. Contact me at Clay Boykin calm for a free consultation. Now here’s the latest episode of In Search of the new compassionate male. Don. Ty you doing?
Well, it’s been interesting. I had a first meeting of my implementing servant leadership class. And that was last Friday. And it’s this time I just in the first the first meeting, I’ve learned to do this. So we just want to hear how you got here. To serve in leadership, tell me this, tell us about your journey in a person was kind of like a resume. And then I read some poems. And after that, the floodgates were open. And I this struck me I never struck me before when someone is especially a lot of people, when that field takes over with a group of people, you know, you’re all participating in the same field of intention and sharing. I’m not gonna say it’s mystical. I think it’s real. I think it’s, there’s a real measurable field probably we just don’t measure yet. But when that’s happening, then everybody is growing together. And it’s a feeling that can’t be manufactured. Facts are necessary. conceptual ideas are necessary. But they are not the only things that make up the full rich expression of what it means to be human, but also what it means to be a compassionate male. Also, there’s a man who named Dr. Tarr T AR, his mother, I met him recently. His mother was announcements. And she was one of the one of the one of the twins part of one of the twins that Dr. Mengele experimented on. Oh my. So she became an advocate. Later, she moved to Terre Haute, Indiana married and became an advocate for forgiveness. So I gave him the biography of Greenleaf because it has an awful lot to do with Terre Haute. And I really appreciate it. I’m going to see him tomorrow night. The State Museum now has an exhibit about her and her message. And they’ve done a documentary on her for public television. So I’m going to see that tomorrow night too. But she stood, she stood in the gates of Alice Fitch and read a letter about forgiveness. And until that moment, she could not get over the terrible effects of what had happened. And she was short with people and she realized that she was screwing herself an uprising
that really, it’s really sobering because last Friday, I interviewed Dr. Riane Eisler and her story is that when she was six years old, in Austria, her parents it was the crystal night and you know, these people were being raided and they were being taken away. And her father was taken away. And luckily, the mother was able to do something but get the to get the Gestapo to release the Father. And they evacuated and got to Cuba and survive there until they came over to the US. You know it’s something now, the right people show up at the right time. Especially in these these podcasts. I was talking about Dr. Rian, icecool earlier and per book, nurturing our humanity is a pretty incredible read. I skimmed it. I’ve gone back to take it to heart, read the preface in the first chapter that erased to the back to get to the conclusion. And then I’m going to read the rest of the book. And what is I think, showing me is that? Well, I don’t know what it’s showing me. I don’t know if I can put it into words yet. But I know that leadership for me servant leadership is, is in the present with the people that I’m with. With the network that I connect with. And this whole other side of leadership, the leadership that she’s demonstrated, taking from childhood, the atrocities that she witnessed and persevering through, and a brilliant woman taking all these different aspects and in this macro view of things, to present another way to, for us to live. And that’s another form of leadership. So it is to share, to take the difficulties and the challenges, terrific challenges, and then turn that in to something for the greater good. And she told us early on in the, in our conversation, actually, before we started taping, she she said that she had lost her husband six weeks ago. Yeah, that both of them well up into yours. And yeah, the obituary, said that he died of COVID. They’ve been married for 45 years. And she shared that. In their first 100 days of marriage, he wrote a poem a day to her. And she’s publishing that now. But you know, that’s a generation that’s, that’s fading away. Unfortunately, I think the lessons are also fading away.
Look at us now. Yeah. I am so struck by Zelinsky in Ukraine. Here’s a guy who grew up Jewish in southern Ukraine. His father moved to Mongolia for four years. And they came back and live in Kiev. He surprised me. He was, of course a good student. He’s always interested in theater though. And he made it he got a law degree. In six years. He got a law degree and a bachelor’s degree and was licensed to practice law, but went back to theater and was highly successful there. He made his name in a feature film, which you can see in Russian on Netflix right now called servant of the people. Really? Yeah. And it was a take kind of a spoof of the current leadership of Ukraine, because he was anything but a servant of the people whose crooked he stole things. Nobody believed in. The film features Zelinski as a young man who’s still living at home. And he just for the heck of it, jumped into I pick his friends in the film put him in this presidential race. And one day in the morning, there is a knock on the door and he’d won the race and they come to take him down to his office. He was shocked. So anyway, the whole thing was so successful. I went into a series for several years when he then became genuinely interested in politics, He named his party servant of the people. So it took this spoof, and turn it into the world’s most serious name, I think. Wow. And by the way, he also had his own production company. And he was the lead producer, he produced everything on Ukrainian television, he was ultimately responsible for it. So he had also dealt with a lot of people with big budgets for over there. And he had prepared himself without knowing what he was preparing for a president, a wartime President at that. And I really strikes me because you don’t play the I mean, you’re kind of like me, you know, you’ve your Motorola for a long time. But you did a lot of other things to sense created new things. You weren’t preparing for this, when you were 17 years old. by name. You didn’t have a straight line drawn from them to hear. And yet you repair you prepared for it all along the way. Because I suspect, I’d like to hear you talk about this. I suspect you followed what lured you nuts, LVR, Id L U R, E, D, and kind of went with that. And it tended to resolve itself out in an unprepared unexpected ways.
Gosh, you’re so right. And I have to say that. And this is not unique to me. And all the the men that I’ve come in contact with and all people interviewed. It’s like, you know, it’s the hero’s journey. For the guys, you know, it’s the we grew up and we leave our heart behind, and we go do what we’re supposed to do. We go climb this ladder, and whatever form it takes. And we know how to be happy. And so many times, there’s just emptiness that guys have. They don’t know what it is, but they know that they’re supposed to climb the ladder. You know, that’s how you achieve happiness. That’s how you provide and so forth. But at some point, it all falls apart. And that’s my story. And my health got me and I fell. And it wasn’t until I came back and found out what was here what what what was this burn it is a keenness that felt empty. That I recognized that that was that was my heart speaking to me, even speaking to me all these years, and I can go back and look at pictures and photographs and things that I did, that were all about heart. But I was pushing that down and going after the career growth. And, you know, I guess that’s okay for a time to get oneself established, if needed. But but it brought me down eventually. And it was only in the 2018, I guess, maybe some leading up to that, that I really decided to follow my heart. I had had a couple of health scares. And finally the last one was this lit. Someone’s calling me to do something different. As soon as I did. The fall of 2018. Everything changed, everything was aligned. And everything took off. And it’s like, well, I don’t know where this is going. But it feels right. It was the first time in my life that I ever really listened to my feelings. This was not intellectual. This was a feelings thing. And the more I did it, the better I felt the more the energy changed around me and hearing
thank you for that. It resonates with me. i i There are a lot of medical facts I could spew out and say oh, the males have a lot of cholesterol and we all ate grease In fact, I was blocking my heart. And I did quite well with concepts and ideas. But my heart was blocked. Yeah, till it literally was 90% 99% blocked. And they had to put stents in him. After that, I’d already run across certain leadership. But after that, I said, Look, I, I gotta quit what I’m doing here, and only do what I’m told to do. Right? By my heart. It’s got to be cleaned out. The Pathways to it, have to be cleaned out. It’s the Native Americans, you know, the talking stick, and yeah, all that. The fact is that if you don’t stand up and speak from the heart, I’ve been in some men’s groups where we do this kind of exercise. People will kindly nod. But they don’t, they don’t get excited. They don’t have to go pee, because they’re so excited. Because you’re just saying stuff. That means to be human, but also what it means to be a compassionate male. Now, I suspect that Solinsky has, you could probably check off all the boxes for compassionate bail for him. But doesn’t mean he’s not out there in his army fatigues. Doing want to ask to do to pray to protect his people. I’m compassionate. I’m not gonna fight back. No, no, that’s not. That’s not what it means.
So true. Ah,
it’s a hard lesson for some people to learn is like servant leadership. A lot of people think it means being a martyr. And not attending to your own needs. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t attend to your own needs, go in and go down. You’re going to be a poor leader
why so many things are running through my mind right now. Our experiences health wise are very close to one another. And yeah, heart being blocked. Call it metaphoric, or call it physical. Know, the blockage. Wow.
And it’s what’s so ironic is that I blocked my heart to handle my feelings by not facing them directly. I suspect. I say suspect because I know at some level is true. And that very blockage almost gave me a Widowmaker what they call the widow-maker. And the hard docks talk about it about killed me. Yep. So by blocking it. I just about killed myself.
Yes. i So get that. And that happened in oh seven. I ended up under the knife, you know. quintuple bypass. And later on. I ended up having to stem because of that very thing. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, there you go. And that’s what I asked myself. You know, I was, I was commuting to New York at the time back and forth in my offices on parking 32nd Street. And I’d sit my office and I look up at the Empire State Building, you know, never been up there. And when I went back after, like, Come bless for my bypass surgery. I thought I’ve never been up there. So I went up. This was a fall of December 22,020 17. No, this was the fall of 2007. I went up there. And I said, you know, metaphorically, I’ve made it to the top. I’m at the top of the Empire State Building. You know, it’s almost killed me. And of course, you know, what came next? Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? You know, I looked at my little office window down there. And I thought what’s is all about. And that’s when the market crashed. And I was let go and wasn’t for two years. For I got my next job. And it was, it was for $9 An hour part time at OfficeMax. You know, so I went from the top, basically the bottom and started over again. And that’s where it was that evolution that really woke me up.
I’ve wondered, well, I had, oh, probably 10 or 12 careers. I don’t mean jobs, I mean careers. But in several of them, I was in the public, I posted a television show for the museum apart and did the radio series. But I had to start wondering what part hubris was playing. In that because there’s this thing out there, that persona that you can build, you know, just do it in media. I found a lot of wounded people in radio and television, who probably like me, had a hard time uniting their vocation in their application. And who they were and who they wanted to be seen as to another deadly thing, but there’s a kind of hubris there. And boy, just hate to have to admit stuff like that. I’m gonna go, I’ll drive around the block or something before I really get into that. It’s called the shadows. Yeah. And I think that’s where a lot of courage comes in for people. Yeah. Between able to turn and face them.
Yeah. What was it that that you really got rolling? With servant leadership. I mean, you. You’re the official biographer, for the late Robert Greenleaf. And you told in a previous podcast, kind of all the evolution of that. But there was a point when all those careers, which you really took off and dedicated yourself to the advancement of servant leadership. Can you talk about that? So?
Yes, I got green leaves. Original essay, the servant as leader, when they in 1986. And it came in a padded envelopes from my mentor who lived in Dallas and McGee Cooper. So I opened it up, eventually, through blade around a couple of days, and read it and was riveted. And decided after I closed the last page, that I would devote the rest of my career to trying to understand and share these ideas. And that was it. Now, that was not my style, necessarily, to say, oh, okay, I see this, I’ll just change my life. It wasn’t unprecedented. One night in graduate school. I worked late at a radio station came back and there was one light on in the dorm. And the guy was an entry. I was in seminary, first year of seminary, and there was a guy there who I like, he was kind of a draft dodger, I think he was waiting till he turned 26. But he just said, you really need to go to England or Scotland. Next year, for your second year of seminary. I said, why? And he said, Well, I went to England, blah, blah, blah. So I walked out and called my sister and said, I’m going to Scotland next year. Boom, just like that. It sounds foolish. It sounds foolish to change my career, just like that. But I was saying, Yes, I didn’t initiate the request. The request came from somewhere else. And there was a solid rightness about it. You know what, thank God I did. Thank God that I take no responsibility for creating that. Except that I had the doors of perceptions open perception open long enough for it to sneak in and make itself No. And that’s for a lot.
I’m sorry. Yeah. Why Scotland?
I’m one quarter Scottish. Aha. I always wanted to go there. And I wanted to learn a little bit more about my grandmother. And where she came from near Glasgow, but also Scotland. In theology. It’s a pretty big deal place. The University of Scotland had some high end theologians through the years. And I wanted to test myself there too. So I bought a motorcycle and ran around Europe after that, and you know, that all that kind of stuff? I’m glad I did. But how often? Have I been open to all? I’ve asked myself that since that was an awful, a W E, a full moment when this thing crashed into my consciousness. And I wonder if there had been time since that. insights of similar import. Haven’t tried to get in there. And I was too busy.
Oh, that’s a real. That’s really something to reflect on. How many times it just right below the surface? Yep. And there’s just enough resistance? No, I can’t do that. Just enough resistance to keep it is just an inch or two below the waterline? And yeah, really, it really is. It really gives me pause, as you’re saying that because that time when I said yes, when I quit my work, you know, I’d had another heart scare, I was okay. I came home. When I said to Laurie, I said, you know, I was in Jamaica in 2007 in the woods, knowing I was going to have a heart attack. And just finding peace. It’s hard to describe, but I knew I was leaning against the veil. I knew I was going to die. And I wasn’t going to go to the hospital air. But I felt got so at peace with all that. How that happened? I don’t know. And when I got back, sure enough. I went in. But I said to her after this latest heart scare in 2018, I said, you know, I was in the woods in Jamaica, doing what was in my heart to do do my little crafts and so forth. And knowing I was going to die. So I would do it was my heart there. And who’s to say, today is not my last day? And am I doing what’s on my heart right now. That’s right. If not now, when am I going to do it? And that’s what sparked me to believe and start this path.
I think if something odd and irresistible comes to us because it’s on the fringes of not of consensual reality. I mean, it’s a kind of non consensual reality. I think that is a high alert that we should pay attention. And I’m almost glad here the I am glad I’m 75 years old. I don’t have the same passions of making it I making it now is to try to make a difference for other people as much as I can. knowing now that that’s not all out to me. That it is it’s it’s in communion with other people who care I’m supposed to be working with in certain ways, and I’m doing that. So it is mysterious, but it’s real. That’s it something can be mysterious. And still it will be real as dirt it’s holding those two things in our mind simultaneously. That Einstein called genius that we are but it’s very difficult to do especially in this culture.
Yeah. Yeah. So binary. Check out the latest episode of In Search of the new compassionate male on your favorite podcast Station.