If I had Known
The thoughts and efforts that led to the development of the Trilogy began to come to a head when I started teaching in the Engineering Management program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, some twelve years ago. They culminated with my decision to take a sabbatical from teaching in order to spend a year and a half in concentrated study and reflection.
Several years earlier, not unlike many of my friends and colleagues, I had been thinking only superficially about my actions and their relationship to matters such as success, happiness, peace, serenity and fulfillment. However, when I came face to face with the responsibility of helping students prepare for life in the roles of managers and leaders, these thoughts took a more serious turn. It did not seem adequate to merely expose their minds to the “standard” information and methodologies for functioning effectively and achieving “success’ as managers, entrepreneurs and leaders. Certainly there was something more, and perhaps more valuable, that could, and should, be shared with these bright and eager minds.
The question was, what was this additional knowledge that would help these young minds in their personal and professional lives? While struggling with this question, I began to search far and wide, and to dig deep, into the literature. Unable to find an answer to this question, regardless of how long, far and wide I searched, I turned my thoughts inwards in frustration. To my utter surprise, the answer, which at first appeared to be almost obvious, was right there in my mind. Share with them what I now know and wish I had as a youth. However, this still left unanswered the details of “what” this knowledge should consist of. I became obsessed with finding an answer to the question:
What would have helped me most in my life if I had known it as a youth?
Turning again to the oceans of knowledge in management science and related areas of philosophy and psychology, I was unable to find a single source in the literature which included, in one complete collection, even the majority of the elements of what I wanted to share with my students. I resolved then to abandon the search for “textbooks” or even a “short list” of references to use in a series of courses for graduate students in management, leadership and entrepreneurship. Instead, I elected to compiling a collection of “essays” which were distributed to participants in the courses. They were asked to read and critique the essays and to use them as the outline and basis for focused literature reviews, research projects and class discussions. At all times, the focus was be provided by the underlying theme of the essays and the overall course objectives and outlines. Through these essays, we were able to focus upon the essential aspects of life viewed as a collection of actions aimed at achieving both success and fulfillment.
These essays did not ignore the dynamics of life and influence of external forces pressing upon the individual through the senses. That is to say, issues of morals and ethics and the interplay of the material and spiritual aspects of our existence were integral parts of, and interwoven into, each of the essays.
The Trilogy is, to a great extent, the story of the discovery of the contents of these essays. Collectively, they attempt to answer for my students, and hopefully for other travelers in life, the question of what I wished I had known.
Essays excerpted from The Trilogy, as well the entire Brookmaster game, can be found in the pages of this web site.
Happy navigating and, again, welcome to The Brook!