At last the week comes when the buds break on the wild cherries and in the evenings (however bitter the air) there is still enough light to walk through the gardens and as far as the urn in the wood. As the days draw out – sudden prodigality of evening light – the walks after dinner grow longer. The trees on our lawns fill, showing a wash of white on stark branches, and all over northern Scotland, the buds break on the wild cherry trees of the uplands. A vast gean tree flowers overwhelmingly, filling the space between the chapel and
New King’s College in Old Aberdeen, a marker in the progress of the city’s year. The geans flower on the slopes of the Garioch, looking from the distance like wind-blown remnants of blizzard.
Sparser along the field above our house, they look like spindrift on the grass. Our hill-field too has its place in the year: we go up there only in summer to look over the house and down the valley towards the blanched castle of the Hays of Delgaty glimmering white amongst the cherry trees.
Certain patients recount or reconstruct in analysis traumatic events that have occurred in their childhood. The question has sometimes been raised as to whether we treat this type of material differently from other analytic associations furnished by the patient. And if so, what are the differences? Ever since Freud’s discovery that the traumatic sexual seductions of his hysterical patients revealed themselves to be fantasies based on infantile sexual wishes, analysts have been wary of mistaking fantasy for reality. Nevertheless there are many “real” events that leave a traumatic scar on our patients—such as the early death of a father, having a psychotic mother, or a childhood handicapped by illness. When these events are within conscious recall, they inevitably present us with special problems because of the varied use the patient will make of them, and in particular because he will so frequently advance the argument that there is nothing to analyse in this material since the events “really happened”. They have, however, become part of the patient’s psychic reality and must therefore be listened to with particular attention.
As I prepare this preface for the third edition of The Leadership Wisdom of Jesus I can’t help reflecting on how much has changed since the book was first published. Issues of spirituality and religion in the workplace are no longer topics of questionable relevance for business and leadership practice. In fact, spirituality at work has become a widely considered topic for many business and management researchers and educators, as well as a significant concern for many executives and managers. When I wrote the first edition, this was not the case. In fact, writing the book as a business professor, consultant, and author was quite notable, and for many it was perceived as a rather bold undertaking, at the time.
Yes, many things have changed, yet paradoxically, many things have stayed largely the same. In fact, I believe much of what I wrote in the preface to the first edition still applies. Jesus taught timeless wisdom that transcends the ups and downs and ebbs and flows of years, decades, centuries and even millennia. Consequently, while the emergence of spirituality as a legitimate concern for the study and practice of leadership would seem to make this book even more relevant now as the third edition is released, the timeless wisdom it is based on has always been relevant, and I believe it always will be. Indeed, looking to the teachings of Jesus as a potential source of practical lessons for leading today remains a wise thing to do. Following is some of the original message I wrote in the Preface to the first edition: