Leadership Starts Within Ourselves: See Paris First

Are we ignoring the risk or are we accepting it? Are we conscious of it or are we ignorant towards it? Do we know what we fear and seek to avoid it or are we willing to explore it?

Whether tangible or intangible, personal or professional, when we lead we have to go to these places.

M. Truman Cooper‘s poem, “See Paris First,” is an essential reminder. We need a voice in our head, we need a friend who knows us, to tell us to go there. To accept it, to be conscious of it, to explore it, whatever it is.

Suppose that what you fear
could be trapped,
and held in Paris.
Then you would have
the courage to go
everywhere in the world.
All the directions of the compass
open to you,
except the degrees east or west
of true north
that lead to Paris.
Still, you wouldn’t dare
put your toes
smack dab on the city limit line.
You’re not really willing
to stand on a mountainside
miles away
and watch the Paris lights
come up at night.
Just to be on the safe side
you decide to stay completely
out of France.
But then danger
seems too close
even to those boundaries,
and you feel
the timid part of you
covering the whole globe again.
You need the kind of friend
who learns your secret and says,
“See Paris first.”