Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Senior Leadership in Community: Interview with Norman Westmore

Senior Leadership in Community: Interview with Norman Westmore

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16. What are you doing to continue growing and developing as a leader?

Most important for me is to keep learning from other people. I attend workshops, I observe other leaders, and I look for the keys to successful people. I frequently am very curious about how others work to achieve their goals, and I try and learn from these observations.

17. The two characteristics most often associated with sage leader wisdom are unusual experience and the exercise of sound judgment. What does having wisdom mean to you?

Wisdom to me is life’s personal experiences and being open to new ones. I get upset with dogma and intransigence in people. And I really get upset with the political arena today, where people shout, don’t listen, and are derogatory to others. So having wisdom involves being open and listening to the points-of-view of others, and giving others the benefit of my own opinions without feeling I have to convince them. That’s part of wisdom, not having to convince people that my way is the right way or the only way.

I find it interesting in dealing with many younger people today that they have no room to listen to another person’s point-of-view in an open way. They have already formed their opinion; it can be political, it can be in any organization, and it can be in a non-profit as well. To me that’s what wisdom is all about. I will tell you very frankly that I didn’t come to this conclusion early in my life. I have learned what did and didn’t work well in parenting, so I am a better grandparent than I was a parent. My goal is to not make the same mistakes again.

18. What are the one or two peak experiences in your life that set you on the path you’re on today?

One stands out, and that was when I met the woman who was to become my future wife. I had just come off a failed marriage, but from the standpoint of self-esteem I was doing well in the business world and climbing the corporate ladder. I was very ambitious on the outside, but on the inside I was having grave doubts about my relationships with my family, especially my children, and what they were going though as a result of the divorce.

Before I met my wife-to-be, I vowed I wasn’t going to marry again any time soon. That vow didn’t last very long because I met a woman who was to become my wife. So my peak experience was finding the woman who I loved and who loved and trusted me. She had two very young children, and I took on the responsibility of being their father. Her husband had drowned in an accident. I didn’t necessarily want to replace him but, rather, be a father in-kind.  For me, that was also part of my first peak experience.

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