A Failure of Nerve: Leadership is the Age of the Quick Fix delves into the varied familial constructs and expectations that influence leadership strategy and execution. Rabbi Edwin H. Friedman, organizational consultant, family therapist and community relations specialist , dares us to look beneath the surface and question our own biases – He dares us stop, take a breath, say a prayer and seek to understand. This type of introspective and lifestyle requires one to leap – leap in with both feet and be brave enough to leave changed. The author reveals that:
Conceptually stuck systems cannot become unstuck simply by trying harder. For a fundamental reorientation to occur, a spirit of adventure that optimizes serendipity and enables new perceptions beyond the control of our thinking processes must happen first. 
Friedman weaves through 5 facets of cronic anxiety and challenges his readers to change their thinking and their reactions – He dares them to lead by example. The author addresses, “reactivity, herding, blame displacement, a quick-fix mentality and lack of differentiated leadership.” Friedman delves into the varied determents of these reactions and discusses the chronic state of anxiety that has swept through America. He reveals that, “Highly reactive families are a panic in search of a trigger.” Reactive families are not simply volatile or quick to judge, but also quick to conform to a unified voice. The author looks at the herding reaction and suggests that, “The constant pressure of various members on one another to adapt, whether through threats or charm, is often characteristic of the families with the most severe physical and emotional problems.” Freidman advocates for self-differentiation because he believes that one needs to lead from a place of objectivity.
I recently posted a reaction on Facebook in response to the shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA. My views and reaction are shaped by familial constructs and experience; however, I tried to present my post objectively and devoid of personal influence. It was interesting to see the reactions and comments that encircled my post within minutes. Immediately, I could see how their reactions were influenced by their family background. Some looked for quick fixes and were frustrated when I didn’t have an exact formula, others were tentative and formed their comments in a positive like, others were offended that I was going against the herd mentality and others were reactionary and didn’t understand the full context of my post. I loved interacting with this Facebook posts in light of Friedman’s text. It gave me the ability to step back and question the reasoning behind their response and the reasoning behind my own reaction. As Jason Clark recommended in Hong Kong, I took a breath and silently wondered – I wondered about their own context and the crux of the reasoning behind their beliefs.
According to Friedman, “What chronically anxious families are largely incapable of seeing is that trauma is often, and perhaps usually, less the result of the impacting agent than of the family’s own evolving emotional processes.” Leadership starts and ends with one’s reflection. Friedman’s text echoes scripture with the concept of love – one cannot love others without first prioritizing God and then self. However, because we live in a quick fix society, we pick at the twig and become blinded by the beam. Friedman suggests that:
The notion that one has to be able to understand the background of people in order to help them is ad hominem thinking in reverse. While such information can be useful on a macro scale to help various groups preserve their traditions or benefit from government entitlements, the bottom line in efforts to help people grow still is (as has been mentioned) that patients cannot rise above the maturity (or anxiety) level of their counselor, no matter what the form of therapy.
According to Friedman, one must be able to understand one’s own familial influence and approach situations objectively. Therefore, he asserts that leadership starts with introspection of self, which produces a stance of self-differentiation. Therefore, “Differentiation is the lifelong process of striving to keep one’s being in balance through the reciprocal external and internal processes of self-definition and self-regulation.” Moreover, differentiation is a healthy understanding of self and the ripple effect of one’s actions. “Understanding our own complexity and drama is part of and vital to the story of trust and the power of Conversational Intelligence.”  Understanding one’s self creates an awareness that realizes one’s influence.
Universality hides within the shadows of political parties, religious views and societal constructs. However, as the shadows lift and reality sets in, we soon realize that humanity is a living breathing organism of varied reactions that stem from similar familial structures. Rabbi Edwin H. Friedman dares us to look beneath the surface and question our own biases – He dares us to realize that we are more alike than we ever imagined.
Edwin H. Friedman, A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, 10th ed. (New York, NY: Church Publishing, 2017), 5.
Judith E. Glaser, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (Brookline, MA: Bibliomotion, Books + media, 2014), 35.