To say “reading A Failure of Nerve by Edwin H. Friedman was inspiring” would be an understatement and borderline insulting to my psyche. I’ve read several books on leadership but none like this. Most self-help books serve as temporary motivation for me and commonly become short-lived with minimal action. I can usually manipulate my way around certain arguments or systems to defend my less productive way of living or leading my undifferentiated life. My defense is unconscious and automatic and the product of many years of poor habits, addictions, lack of wisdom, and immaturity. A Failure of Nerve has interrupted my unconscious tolerance and helped me gain a new perspective on life optimization. The wisdom and point of view are completely different than traditional leadership books and I anticipate different results from it.
I believe I have crossed a learning threshold this week through Friedman’s insight. I noticed a different motivation and change immediately. Before completing the book I noticed my perspective shifting in four major areas of my life; my family, my business, my church, and my future ministry. I’m predicting there will be additional modifications as I continue to assess my life through a lens of differentiated leadership. Friedman helped me realize that I have created a level of conscious tolerance and behaviors that are quite embarrassing. Instead of maximizing my potential for success, I’m often doing the exact opposite and sabotaging my own happiness and the potential for those around me I lead. I can see now that the cycle has repeated for years, inflated stress and anxiety, and created emotional triangles that could have been easily avoided.
Chapter seven focused on Emotional Triangles and was a real eye-opener for me. I wasn’t aware that I had relationship instability and worse, I have been forming and fueling these triangles in every area of my life. Friedman states, “once formed, emotional triangles (1) are self-organizing, (2) are perpetuated by distance; and (3) tend to be perverse.”  I’m typically not the one forming the triangles but somehow I get roped into them because, with all honesty, I thought it was my job as a leader to hear the concerns of my team. I have learned that I need to resist the triangles and lead by example by differentiation. A new goal of mine is to become a non-anxious presence and show my team and family differentiation by example and influence others to take responsibility.
I believe I now possess the correct ingredients to lead in a differentiated way, create healthy relationships, and avoid emotional triangles, however, I’m still not clear on how the change will start and how long it will take to diffuse years of built-up anxiety. Friedman states on page 247 that “the counterproductively of trying to change emotional triangles head-on is one of the most frustrating endeavors for leaders.”  Later in the same paragraph, he perfectly describes my leadership struggle for the past decade. “Leaders are taught how to motivate, and their leaders constantly try to motivate them to be better motivators.”  Part of me really connects with motivation, and I still believe there is power in motivation. What was not clear to me before this book, and is certainly now, is that I have some triangles that I need to address. I have unfinished business in all of the areas I mentioned in the introduction; my family, my business, my church, and my future ministry.
This book has been a humbling and transformative experience for me and I greatly appreciate the perspective I have gained through it. I’m not sure how I could have been so immature in so many areas of my life for so long. Friedman’s book revealed wisdom that was enlightening and stimulating and was presented in a way that I have never heard before. It felt like I was reading the answers to life’s test. It seems extremely simple now that writing about it but unfortunately I’m far away from leading exclusively differentiated. I have new goals and aspirations but I believe it will require time and another read-through. I’m still processing a lot and I am not exactly clear on the best strategy to attack my triangles in the least disruptive way? I am excited to try though. Overall, I think this book is for anyone, not just leaders. Unlike the leadership training I’ve received in the past, I’m certain I will never be the same after seeing life through this lens.
 Friedman, Edwin H, Margaret M Treadwell, and Edward W Beal. 2017. A Failure of Nerve : Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York: Church Publishing.
 Ibid, 247
 Ibid, 248