Author: jimsherblom

Discipline Two

Second Discipline of Six: Surrender My spiritual memoir Spiritual Audacity is built around six spiritual disciplines of which the second is ego surrender.  Is this an important discipline in your spiritual life? This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows . . . —Jalaluddin Rumi (Coleman Barks translation) How and when does spiritual submission or ego surrender factor into your life today? Ego Surrender: It is in surrendering the separate ego-self to the greater good of the broader community that we grow spiritually. Each person chooses where and when he or she wishes to be involved in any intentional community. Congregations are an intentional community. But a consumer approach to community seldom meets real spiritual needs. You may not want to get involved.  You may not like teaching or greeting or singing in the choir or committee work. But when asked, your spiritual discipline could be: …

Jim Sherblom in 1961

Discipline One

Discipline One of Six: Resilience My spiritual memoir Spiritual Audacity: Six Disciplines for Human Flourishing is built around six spiritual disciplines of which the first is resilience.  Is this an important discipline in your spiritual life?  How has it become or not become the basis of your flourishing? Resilient people use a well-developed set of skills that help them to control their emotions, attention, and behavior. Self-regulation is important for forming intimate relationships, succeeding at work, and maintaining physical health. —The Resilience Factor by Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté How does spiritual resilience factor into your life today? Resilience: The single most important spiritual practice in my life. Having lived with and through so many difficult circumstances in my life, I have needed to make resilience a core spiritual practice for myself. This is largely about transforming suffering. One of my teachers compares transforming suffering through resilience to feeding a family from a spoiled dead fish. A dead fish stinks. You want to keep it as far away as possible from your supper. Yet if …

October 1987 Crash

I had hungered to be wealthy even when I didn’t become a millionaire before the age of thirty. So after leveraging our debt to buy Genzyme founder’s stock from Sam, then taking Genzyme public in 1986, I borrowed as much as I could on margin to buy yet more Genzyme stock. I believed by taking on margin debt, and raising the value of our Genzyme holdings, though heavily leveraged, we could better reap the fruit of all my hard work. Loretta asked me how low the stock could go before we lost it all. Genzyme had gone public at $10 per share and traded as high as $16 per share. I told her Genzyme had never traded below $7 as a public company and we could meet any margin calls as long as the stock was above $5.25 per share, which was less than half its current level, and 25% below its lowest price ever. On the other hand if Genzyme went to $30 per share as predicted by analysts we would become wealthy. Then …

Beginning Again

Life has its ups and downs. As I was approaching age forty, having lost my job, most of our net worth, and much of my industry reputation, it was time to begin again. Fortunately Loretta’s business was doing fine, the kids were doing well in school, and I had learned much from my dozen years in international business. Yet here I was in my late 30’s, having worked 70 or 80 hours a week for most of my adult life, with no job, no clear prospects, and my life in a financial shambles. Yet this was a time for deepening my practice of spiritual generosity. This could have been a time for succumbing to a scarcity mentality, but that is not my nature, so instead I focused on the sudden abundance of time in my day, time to spend with my wife, with my children, time to read all those philosophical and spiritual books I hadn’t gotten to read, time to think and re-evaluate my life. And thanks to Loretta’s and my financial prudence over …

A Disturbance in the Force

A Christian scholar pursues enlightenment through studying Chinese Taoism, meditating with Tibetan Buddhists, practicing meditation with Hindu holy men, whirling with Islamic Sufi dervishes, and finally traveling with shaman using psychotropic drugs. Huston Smith was a huge influence on my spiritual path. He died this week at age 97. I have taught “Introductions to Sacred Texts” using his book “The World’s Religions.” His studies with U U theologian Henry Nelson Wieman provided a context for much of his subsequent study of human flourishing through religion making him very relevant for U U’s. His life story became a very important exemplar for my own journey. Reading his spiritual memoir, “Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine” both inspired some of my more esoteric spiritual adventures but was also partly inspiration for my spiritual memoirs, “Spiritual Audacity: Six Disciplines for Human Flourishing” and “Spiritual Pilgrim: My journeys with Christian, Sufi, Taoist and Shamanic Mystics.” His calm wisdom will be missed, but the world is better for his having lived so long. Jim

New Hope

The week after the announcement of my termination as Chairman and CEO of TSI was in the WSJ a prominent Boston venture capitalist, who we pitched on numerous occasions but who had never invested, called to assure me there was life after public executions. He offered to invest $2 million from his fund in whatever I decided to do next. I began watching Steven Spielberg’s movie Hook, where Peter Pan has grown up to be a clever financier who dabbles in mergers and acquisitions, and forgets the essence of his being, until his nemesis Captain Hook steals Peter’s children and forces him to return to Never Land to remember who he is so that he can save his children. I must have watched that movie 20 or 30 times, long after my wife and children grew bored with it, but this was my situation. The movie Hook became a Delphic oracle explaining my fall from grace. Now I needed to rediscover my true identity, decide who to truly be, and find my right occupation for …

Prideful Fall

My 1993 Budget presentation to TSI’s Board ended with three definitions of success. The first Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” The second I called Bain’s definition: “A superior financial return for shareholders over an extended time period. Finding high growth sectors to maximize business opportunities; with a focus on relative market share, value creation, and high reward for high performance.” Finally one I called the Genzyme measure of success: “Building an important corporation faster and better than the competition; with great expectations, satisfying but not focusing on shareholders, stretching forecasts as far as you reasonably can, and then working like …