Dr. Judith and Dr. Bob Wright founded the Chicago-based Wright, a transformative education organization, and the Wright Foundation for Transformational Leadership. Traditional (transactional) leadership utilizes the concept of an exchange of effort (activity) for value (reward). Transformational leadership is designed to empower and develop the follower’s (employee/participant) interest and desire to achieve the organization’s (be it a business, family, or community) goals, thereby having a positive effect on the parties involved and, ultimately, the world around them.
To this end, Wright provides ongoing education to empower the individual to live the most empowered and contributory life possible, and the Wright Foundation funds graduate research, leadership awards, educational loans and scholarships, as well as symposia in an attempt to promote forward-thinking performance, philosophy, and methodology. Key in both is the development of the individual and that person’s awareness of their role in the family, society, and business. Once that awareness and understanding is attained, the individual can begin to encourage and guide (lead) others toward setting, developing, and achieving imperative goals.
While Wright has worked with participants from corporate giants including Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase, and Neiman Marcus, it is important to remember that the emphasis is on the individual and the benefit to be gained from inspiring and encouraging leadership within followers.
“Transformed!: The Science of Spectacular Living” is a book co-written by the Wrights designed to bring the organization’s beliefs and methods into the home and, thusly, our daily lives. To be honest, I expected loads of unfamiliar jargon interspersed with complicated theories unfamiliar to me and a difficult reading experience. Was I ever wrong. What I found was an enjoyable learning experience centered on the very common ideal of turning idle dreams and ideas into reality.
In “Transformed!,” the Wrights effectively turn self-improvement into an event that transcends business to sit at our kitchen table. Childhood development is likened to “watching the image of a photograph emerge during processing.” I loved that comparison. The authors openly discuss the differences in mental attitudes of children and adults in order for the reader to understand that the methods used to enhance growth must follow different paths. What’s good for the goose may be great for the gander, but the goslings require an entirely different mindset to promote change.
One area frequently glossed over in self-improvement books is the effect the individual’s transformation will have on those around them. Ideally, positive energy will elicit positive energy from others. That’s not always the case. Reality consists of the not-so-complimentary comment, “You’ve changed,” with the unspoken ending of “and not for the better.” The Wrights take great care to discuss how to handle these situations and use them to our benefit. The goal is leadership by developing the “self,” and leadership means leading, not leaving others behind. Whether the reader is interested in self, family, or business improvement, “Transformed!” is a book well worth your time.
Q) Both of you are bestselling authors and life coaches. What do you believe “Transformed!” provides readers your other books don’t?
A) We have developed our curriculum over time in response to research into customer desire and satisfaction. You could say that the programs developed organically as our clients and students were moving into their next area of focus and development. Our first books really focused on different components of those trainings.
The in-depth research we conducted since then revealed and named the core process to all learning, development, and transformation. The process runs through and is the foundation of the other books, but wasn’t named and described specifically. For the first-time ever, we have put this core process into one book in a powerful but easy to understand way so that everyone can the fundamental process by which human beings learn, grow, and transform. This understanding has powerful impacts for not only breaking through persistent barriers in their lives but also being able to have the results they have longed for.
Q) I always have to ask this question: Why should a working mother on a tight budget buy this book?
A) The tighter the budget, the more we need to squeeze out of every second—more productivity, care for the kids, enjoyment, and fulfillment. Transformed does this.
And frankly, the same holds true for a non-budget focused executive or business owner, their time is valuable and they need to squeeze the most out of that time.
Q) When you began writing “Transformed!,” who were your targeted readers, and did your own goals change as the book took life?
A) It’s funny because, I think ‘target readers’ is where we always get stumped. We have segments of individuals who are very much attracted to what we do—business owners, young emerging professionals, boomers-in-transition—but when we look at the makeup of our courses, the individuals are so diverse. It’s not uncommon to have a high level executive sitting next to an artist sitting next to a single mom sitting next to a small business owner. Even the ages are diverse from 14 to 86 years old.
Despite the remarkable success of all these different segments of students, certain students excelled even further. They transformed, but we did not know the secret to their success. We wanted to discover this to improve our teaching. The book followed. As we worked to report the results of the research, we were amazed by how it put into context everything from behavioral economics to positive psychology, neuroscience, and eudaimonics.
So I don’t think we had target readers, demographically, when we started this book. What we did focus on was writing to the heart of the success we had experienced in the people whom we had met over many years.
Q) In “Transformed!” you touch on the detriments of ‘overthinking.’ How dangerous is overthinking to a person’s attempts to expand their personal world?
A) Analysis paralysis is a result of overthinking. We are built to balance thought and action—over-thinking is a sign of fear-oriented failure to move forward in life.
Overthinking can literally stop any potential forward progress. It’s like sitting in your room thinking about what it would be to live a spectacular life vs. going out and doing it. Many of us use our thinking as a way to avoid doing. We are unconscious about how threatened we feel to making real change in our life and we use our smarts to justify it. We think once we really get it figured out then we’ll do something about it. But that’s not how learning works. True learning comes from trying and also from failing.
Q) Many will say, “I’m happy with who I am.” How can a person be convinced to look beyond the comfort of routine and see the unexplored daily world around them?
A) Human beings are built to progress, learn, grow, and transform. If we are honest with ourselves, the best result we could honestly declare is being satisfied with our progress.
No high accomplishing human being has ever been happy with who they were. In fact, it is this divine dissatisfaction that drives high achievers and Transformers. Respecting one’s self and feeling fulfilled are much more compelling qualities.
We’d be better off considering what brought the person to say “I’m happy with who I am”? Were they faced with a personal development opportunity? “I’m happy with who I am” is essentially a defensive statement, and the interesting opportunity is to see why we are orienting to that in the moment. Shakespeare addressed this in his comment “the lady doth protest too much”!
Q) Any parting comments for those not familiar with your work?
A) We are excited to share this discovery of the core process of learning and growing that leads to transformation. The way it brings together current and past research on human emergence is powerful and we are looking forward to hearing how others apply it.
DA Kentner is the author of the award-winning novel Whistle Pass http://whistlepass.blogspot.com/