Thursday, June 20, 2019

Colonna, Reboot

Wired Magazine called Jerry Colonna, the venture capitalist turned executive coach, “the CEO whisperer.” In Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up (Harper Business/HarperCollins, 2019) Colonna essentially whispers to himself and to the reader, illustrating and encouraging radical self-inquiry.

The book is nothing like the usual business fare. It is more self-therapy for business leaders who, Colonna contends, can truly lead only if they make peace with their own inner demons. It has such chapter titles as “Standing Still in Empty Time” and “Loving the Crow.”

Colonna bares his own soul in this book. He describes the extreme difficulties he experienced growing up with an alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother and how these difficulties became the baggage he carried with him wherever he went, including to a mental hospital to which he was committed when he was a teenager, and throughout his successful careers. But, he believes, by confronting our baggage and rebooting ourselves, we can become the leaders we were meant to be.

I think the best way to give a sense of this book is to quote its final paragraph in full:

“I will always be haunted by lemon drops, sawdust, and the power of words. I am grateful this is so. Out of such pain, such suffering, and the muck and mud of my ocean bottom, a tall, strong tree of a man has emerged. I overcame the wordlessness of my youth. I became a good man by learning to love words—first, those of others; then, later my own words. I became who I was born to be by learning to read and then, later, to write. I learned that a life well written is a life well led. I became a good leader and I’m still becoming a good man. That is my legacy: the wisdom of knowing that the act of becoming a good man is more important than arriving at that place. With that, I’ve begun mastering the art of growing up.”

I must admit that Reboot does not speak to me, but that may say more about me than about the book.

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