Peter Koestenbaum

Peter
Koestenbaum
1928

German-born, raised in Venezuela, American Professor of Philosophy at San Jose State, Leadership Coach and Author, Founder of the Philosophy-in-Business technology systems and The Leadership Diamond

Author Quotes

Whenever someone sorrows, I do not say, "forget it," or "it will pass," or "it could be worse" - all of which deny the integrity of the painful experience. But I say, to the contrary, "It is worse than you may allow yourself to think. Delve into the depth. Stay with the feeling. Think of it as a precious source of knowledge and guidance. Then and only then will you be ready to face it and be transformed in the process.

Unless the distant goals of meaning, greatness, and destiny are addressed, we can't make an intelligent decision about what to do tomorrow morning -- much less set strategy for a company or a human life. Nothing is more practical than for people to deepen themselves. The more you understand this human condition, the more effective you are as a businessperson.

Courage begins with the decision to face the ultimate truth about existence: the dirty little secret that we are free. It requires an understanding of free will at the archetypal level -- an understanding that we are free to define who we are at every moment. We are not what society and randomness have made us; we are what we have chosen to be from the depth of our being. We are product of our will. We are self-made in the deepest sense.

Greatness comes with recognizing that your potential is limited only by how you choose, how you use your freedom, how resolute you are, how persistent you are.

Better to agree that leadership cannot be taught but insist that it can be learned!

The greatest happiness in life is to be truly and consistently creative.

You can't just change how you think or the that way you act -- you must change the way that you will. You must gain control over the patterns that govern your mind: your worldview, your beliefs about what you deserve and what's possible. That's the zone of fundamental change, strength, and energy -- and the true meaning of courage.

Reflection doesn't take anything away from decisiveness, from being a person of action. In fact, it generates the inner toughness that you need to be an effective person of action -- to be a leader. Think of leadership as some of two vectors: competence.

Authentic leaders have absorbed the fundamental fact of existence -- that you can't get around life's inherent contradictions. The leadership mind is spacious. It has ample room for the ambiguities of the world, for conflicting feelings, and for contradictory ideas. I believe that the central leadership attribute is the ability to manage polarity.

Some people are more talented than others. Some are more educationally privileged than others. But we all have the capacity to be great. Greatness comes with recognizing that your potential is limited only by how you choose, how you use your freedom, how resolute you are, in short, by your attitude. And we are all free to choose our attitude.

Unless we respect the reality of the inner world, commensurate in importance with that of the external world, we are not equipped to understand the full meaning of leadership nor are we able to improve it dramatically, radically. Seeing only half of reality makes us only half a leader. Acknowledging only fifty percent of what is true, gives us a maximum of fifty percent effectiveness as a leader.

The answers to leadership questions are in the inner world. But they are needed in the outer world. Leaders therefore understand both worlds. And they know how to bring what is in the inner world into the outer world. We call that 'crossing the line,' for leaders exist at this point of intersection. It is what gives leadership thinking its unique edge.

In the dimension of time, consciousness is experienced as the eternal present with a strong element of teleology: It is the future that pulls rather than the past that pushes. Some traditional views of man interpret the present as determined by the past. Specifically, these views hold that present events or problems are the workings out of early programing. Maturity then becomes the resolution of childhood conflicts....
An alternative interpretation of the situation is to seek ways to outgrow, i.e., genuinely overcome, a problem.... Genuine growth is the experience of being pulled or attracted by a goal in the future (Aristotle's final cause or telos), not that of being pushed into action (Aristotle's efficient cause or aitia). And in directing our gaze to the future, we utilize whatever material from the past we deem appropriate, including the use of the past to interfere with the future. Under this analysis, the past becomes almost irrelevant in the experience and conception of the present.
Men like Konrad Adenauer, Charles de Gaulle and Bertrand Russell were able to maintain joy, growth, and vigor in old age because the future and not the past was experienced as determining their present.

The leadership mind is spacious. It has ample room for the ambiguities of the world, for conflicting feelings, and for contradictory ideas.

Unless the distant goals of meaning, greatness, and destiny are addressed, we can't make an intelligent decision about what to do tomorrow morning -- much less set strategy for a company or for a human life. Nothing is more practical than for people to deepen themselves. The more you understand the human condition, the more effective you are as a businessperson. Human depth makes business sense.

The distinction between good and evil matters. Quality and standards are sources of pride and
honor. These are not meaningless terms. These are not simply behaviors. These are feelings, emotions,passions, meanings, and sources of significance!

September 11 was the overpowering reminder that this is no longer the age of self-indulgence and entertainment, but the age of total and profound personal and collective responsibility and accountability.

Throughout the history of our economy, personal responsibility and accountability have been the foundation. But it never has been as strong, comprehensive, and thorough as it will be from here forward.

Technology gave us new values: fast money, great intelligence, a superb technical education, and great arrogance.

Business today is being forced to return not only to its commercial fundamentals but also - above all and more so than ever - to its human fundamentals. It is not exactly that business is changing. Business is becoming what it is, transforming itself to what it is meant to be. The intensity of the demands for personal responsibility and accountability and their unforgiving nature, that is
what is new and that is the core, both for you and for your customer, for culture, and for product.

To have courage means to claim your freedom, to reconnect with your will power, to reach the source of your resoluteness and determination as a person ... Seizing that freedom, claiming that truth, actually living out our lives in the experience of our freedom means being wiling to face grave anxiety, uncertainty, and doubt. It means facing guilt, anger, and depression -- what Saint John of the Cross called "the dark night of the soul" and Jonas called "the belly of the whale." It means that we accept pain as natural to growth, as the actual feeling of maturation. We recognize that the meaning of life is to be deep rather than to have fun, to understand rather than be entertained, to see rather than to be blind. We come face-to-face with our self-deception, with how we deny our true nature. We discover the perniciousness of ignorance and the worthlessness of superficiality. And these become emotional insights and experienced confirmations.

To be a leader is to be awake and alert, to be dissatisfied at all times.

Creativity is harnessing universality and making it flow through your eyes.

Author Picture
First Name
Peter
Last Name
Koestenbaum
Birth Date
1928
Bio

German-born, raised in Venezuela, American Professor of Philosophy at San Jose State, Leadership Coach and Author, Founder of the Philosophy-in-Business technology systems and The Leadership Diamond