Clarity and Inspiration

At my most recent yoga teacher training weekend, our teacher challenged us to find the essence of what drives our commitment to teaching yoga. We were asked to complete a simple sentence: “My name is __________ and I am a commitment for __________.”

The invitation came at a funny time for me. I had traveled to the west coast for a number of business meetings just a few days earlier. A lot of anxiety was involved. In one meeting, my colleague asked me an odd question: “What is your essence?” he asked me. You don’t get questions like that in a business setting very often. It took me by surprise and I said the first thing that came to my mind that felt true: “To help others to feel they are becoming better people.” A little sappy, I know. But it accurately captures what motivates me most right now. It has not always been this way, but for a while now this sense of helping people has been a core driver.

I am a commitment for clarity and inspiration.

Now, in teacher training, I was being asked to boil it down to one word. I thought. First I wrote down “love.” But the more I thought about that, the less I was happy with it — too vague. Easy to misunderstand.

Finally, the word “inspiration” came to me. I crossed out the “love” and wrote “I am a commitment for inspiration.” That felt right. With that, the exercise was complete and we dove into our yoga practice.

After practice was complete, we sat in a circle and talked a bit more. At one point, we were asked to quickly say what we get out of yoga. First word that popped into our head.

Out from my lips came the word “clarity.” I hadn’t expected to say that. But there it was: Again, it felt right. Yes. Clarity is what I get from yoga.

As the weekend progressed, the two words tumbled through my head. Clarity and inspiration. Neither won the battle for supremacy — they are tied together.

I get — and seek to give — clarity and inspiration from yoga.

Having these two words as guide stars as I practice and as I live life has been illuminating. They give me an anchor in difficult parts of practice. They guide me to the right attitude with which to step onto my mat.

I have tried to unpack each of these words slightly.

  • Clarity: In thought, in deed, in word, in intention.
  • In seeking to inspire others, we find our own inspiration.

I recognize that I am a work in progress, like anybody else. These guiding words will no doubt shift over time as I grow and change.

But, for now, they work for me.

My name is Brad, and I am a commitment for clarity and inspiration.

Latest Work: New Report For United Way Worldwide

I am delighted to announce the release a new report I co-authored for United Way Worldwide with my friend and colleague Mike Wood at UWW.

From my announcement at the Mannakee Circle Group site:

Last week at a national conference held in Nashville, TN, United Way Worldwide released its latest report, Voices for the Common Good: The World Speaks Out on Opportunity.

This report is based on more than 120 community conversations in a dozen countries. In these conversations, people from all walks of life talked about their aspirations for and challenges facing their communities, along with what it would take form them to see real progress in the areas central to a good life – education, income, and health.

Mannakee Circle Group president Brad Rourke reviewed notes and transcripts from the conversations and, with United Way vice president for field engagement Mike Wood, wrote the core elements of the report.

I appreciate the chance to work on this terrific project!


When The Curtain Parts: My Latest Column At Ethics Newsline

As some know, I have begun a monthly column published at Ethics Newsline, the flagship publication for the Institute for Global Ethics and one which I helped develop when I worked at that organization. This month’s column is about the lessons to be drawn for leaders from the Secret Service and DEA scandals.

Ethics Newsline

When The Curtain Parts

Last week, two figures at the heart of separate scandals spoke up, adding another side to each of their stories. Together, they offer a sobering view to those who lead organizations about what can happen when the curtains are parted.

The first: A woman who appears to be the Cartagena prostitute whose early morning dispute over payment with a U.S. Secret Service officer touched off a controversy that already has claimed the careers of nine officers came forward and spoke to Caracol News in Cartagena. Dania Suarez described a night of carousing with more than one American on the night in question. Her interview has spurred members of Congress to ask why the Secret Service had not been able to interview her in their own investigation, which they now say is closed.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the University of California San Diego student who was forgotten in a holding cell for five days and who barely survived by drinking his own urine, told his story. He was swept up in a raid as U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers cracked down on a major Ecstasy distribution ring. Daniel Chong, however, appeared to be at the raided house in order to smoke some marijuana. DEA agents later decided to cut him loose, along with others who had been picked up in the raid, but never returned to his cell after telling him he would soon be free to go. He says he could hear agents outside of his cell and called for their help. They either never heard him or ignored his pleas. When he finally was discovered, he was near kidney failure and had to be hospitalized. This event is building momentum, there are investigations pending, and he is suing.

Each of these situations was touched off by one unfortunate event: an early morning dispute over payment, a misplaced prisoner. Each event then pulled the covers off of what may be bigger problems. . . .

Read the full piece here.