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From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions Paperback – June 6, 2016
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“Powerful and deeply personal stories highlight the important role of moral courage in answering the type of call to action many of us face. We can all learn from these lessons.”
—Sandra Waddock, Galligan Chair of Strategy, Professor of Management, and Carroll School Scholar of Corporate Responsibility, Boston College
“The array of dramatic stories in this book is nested in the context of neuroscience, primatology, and sociology in prose that is elegant and a pure pleasure to read.”
—Louis Wade Sullivan, MD, former Secretary, US Department of Health and Human Services, and Founding Dean and President Emeritus, Morehouse School of Medicine
“From this extremely readable book, we see that there can be paths of action at times when the choices seem untenable and that more than courage, this sort of journey requires planning, rehearsal, and honest conversations, both with our colleagues and with ourselves.”
—Mary C. Gentile, author of Giving Voice to Values
"Sasha and David Chanoff have written a powerful argument for sorting through critical moral beliefs whenever a leader is faced with a difficult decision or crisis. Although the book begins with Sasha's experiences while in Congo, his path to reach the right decision is also compelling to me and my colleagues in Silicon Valley. Though delivered by a renowned expert in refugee affairs, these lessons are useful in all walks of life. On top of everything else, the book is gripping to read and an exciting page turner."
-Bill Draper, Venture Capitalist and co-founder of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation
We often feel leaders must be detached and aloof, but Sasha Chanoff explains how he became a better leader--and saved lives--when he chose empathy and altruism. Through his extraordinary story and the stories of other brave leaders, Sasha inspires all leaders to be guided by their deepest moral values.
Top customer reviews
Let’s get into the 5-step pathway to moral decision making right now, in the summation of the book, From Crisis to Calling: Finding your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions. While the authors invite readers to learn the principles through real life stories of individuals whose lives took a different path through their crucible experiences, I’ve chosen to share my takeaways from the five principles. Yours will likely be different from mine, when you read the book for yourself. As the authors point out,
“In our book, we address the potential of altruistic or empathetic decision making to spark personal transformations that can, at times, lead to lifetime callings.”
The Five Principles – building blocks to making moral decisions
1. Be prepared
We have a tendency to gravitate toward what we already know, what our circles of influence tell us. We don’t venture beyond what we learned from our parents or family. Being prepared implores us to seek beyond what we know and desire knowledge outside boundaries of our comfort zone wherein lies great potential.
2. Open your eyes
Once you are prepared, open your eyes. Think of the potential resident in decisions you might now make instead of looking the other way. Start questioning, begin to dissect decisions with eyes wide open, without closing them to new possibilities.
3. Confront yourself
Eyes wide open, now what? This is often the fork in the road. If there is clearly a right and wrong, the choice is much easier than when shrouded in complexity. What about Sasha and Sheikha? They had 112 evacuees on the list, the stage was set, the mission sealed – but what about the 32 in desperate need of rescue? Do they take them along and risk the lives of the other 112? Do they leave them back to die in the Congo? When the consequences have two prongs good and bad, what then? This is the time to have someone challenge you, argue with you, and force you to confront yourself so your eyes are opened even more.
4. Know yourself
Many of us know our values and what our staunch beliefs are. Confronting ourselves moves us closer to better knowing ourselves. There is nothing like a moral crucible to reveal what we’ve hidden so far down into our souls that we are surprised when the gap between who we are, and who we thought we were, springs from a reactionary event.
“Moral crucibles have great power to create change.”
Knowing your true self can help tap into underlying empathy, compassion, and feeling for others all to the advantage of living your life more fulfilled. Fulfilled lives make a difference.
5. Take courage
Here is your opportunity to operate from your moral compass making decisions based on your true north. You will better understand the right course of action for you if you have tapped into your values through being prepared, opening your eyes, confronting yourself and knowing who you are. Many decisions will still be made in the face of fear and potential obstacles, and this is where courage is required.
“Courage is the crucial quality, always magnified by the force of moral conviction.”
The subject of this book, From Crisis to Calling is about developing authentic leaders who make decisions based on deep personal values that positively affect their lives and the lives of their organizations. Leaders of this deep moral character will build cultures of trust, fairness, equitability, and ethical leadership. One final thought from the authors, “Empathy is the essential need of great leaders who are intentional about building their organizations and communities.” Whether leaders or lay people, life’s tough choices need to be infused with moral sense – empathy, compassion, altruism.
In 1994, there was a mandate to eradicate the Tutsi population. The Rwanda genocide (aka the genocide against the Tutsi), lasted for over 100 days with over 500,000 killed by the high-level Hutu government. This genocidal act occurred during the Rwandan Civil War, that began in 1990. Sasha and colleague, Sheikha Ali were asked by their boss, David Derthick, International Organization for Migration (IOM) to oversee an evacuation of 112 Tutsi men, women, and children and was provided with a list of those evacuees. They were strongly advised not take anyone else from the compound, except for those on the list. As Sasha and Sheikha were at the compound preparing to evacuate the evacuees according to the list, they were told about over twenty women and children (including infants that looked like dolls), in a tent, that had been held in a military prison, in Kanagawa, for sixteen months. The individuals appeared to be close to death with graying skin, unaware of their surroundings and shock like appearance. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) asked for Sasha and Sheikha to take these women and children as well during their evacuation.
The question is should Sasha and Sheikha deviate from the list or stay focused on the task at hand? Sasha was set as the leader because Sheikha was known to having such a soft heart. The Five-Step Pathway to Moral Decision Making consist of the following values: 1) Be prepared, 2) Open your eyes, 3) Confront yourself, 4) Know yourself and 5) Take courage, that will position you as an effective leader when being faced with those defining moments. Sasha used these elements to help him to navigate his way through the tough decisions that he faced, of evacuating the 112 vs the women and children from the tent.