When I started reading Failure of Nerve, I was very excited about the basic premise of leadership plaguing our organizations and families. The author, Friedman, argues that leadership is in a rut. Whenever the organization or family is in a state of anxiety, there will always be a nerve failure. According to Friedman, the primary cause for the leadership rut the entanglement of the two – concept and emotional thinking in organizations. Essentially, concept thinking is based on current social sciences and psychological concepts on how to get others to do what they do not want to do. In contrast, the emotional basis for leadership does include “feelings. However, the word also refers primarily to the instinctual side” of humans. It is worth mentioning here because I want to address it later in the blog that Friedman establishes the connection of the emotional processes to “colonized protoplasm” in biology.
On page 13, Friedman summarizes the four significant similarities found in organizations and families that contribute to the problem of how they operate. He briefly explains 1) a regressive, counter-evolutionary trend defined as the dependent members of the organization tending to set the agenda and systems are modified based on the lowest or weakest point; 2) a devaluation of the process of individuation is when a leader relies on the expertise or reports of others versus their decision-making capabilities; 3) an obsession with data and technique – the inclination to become information junkies; and, 4) a widespread misunderstanding about the relational nature of destructive processes in families and institutions. The destructive processes is when the leader assumes that the dysfunction can be controlled through rationale, loving, insightful, values-based modeling.
It was the last point, number four, that I began to diverge from Friedman. I believe a leader can and should lead based on rational, loving, insightful, intentional, and should model integrity. These are all of the qualities that Christ modeled for us. As the body of Christ, we have the Advocate or the Comforter to help us through difficulties, and in turn, we are to be available to help others. John 16:6b. When organizations or family members are anxious, we are to be present for them in a non-anxious condition, as Freidman explains. But I would say that my ability to stand still amid the storm comes from my faith and not on a “colonized cell.”
The concept of the prokaryote versus the eukaryoteswas a unique way of tracing the evolution of the emotional processes and characteristics indicative of good leaders. The premise of cell evolution is what Friedman uses to justify the fallacies of self. Leaders, according to Friedman, should embrace autocracy and not integrity. Intellectually I understand the concept, but spiritually I think the message permits the lack of integrity and values in organizations and in many families.
On page 197, I finally gave up on Friedman. I think he gives valid points and contributes to the discussion on leadership – particularly with self-differentiation as a leader. One of the examples he uses is when a spouse (wife) is called the B-word and describes it as the beginning of becoming self-differentiated. Not only is this un-Christ-like behavior and, therefore, inappropriate behavior between a married couple – it is not something that should be tolerated. When I was raised, and even now, World War III would start if I was called the B-word. I’m what you might call “old-school,” and today, that term may be used a lot in music, social media, and TV, but that does not make it acceptable to curse another human in that manner. Self-differentiation is an excellent quality to have as a leader, but based on the value received as a child of God.
To end, I could not help to compare Friedman with a book I read this summer by Brene Brown, Dare to Lead. There were many similarities between Brown and Friedman, in the problems that exist in leadership today. However, Ms. Brown emphasizes courageous leadership. Brown defines a leader “as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” Lastly, I’ll end with a quote from her book on page 22, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
 Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve Leadership in the Age of Quick Fix (New York: Church Publishing, 2017), 2.
 Ibid., 4.
 Ibid., 4.
 Ibid., 13.
 Ibid., 170.
 Brene Brown, Date to Lead (New York: Random House, 2018), 4.