Why this blog?
The Tao of Douglas Sexton
The Third Way
For nearly two decades I have had the privilege of teaching various educational leadership classes. To my amusement, one particular cohort of teachers collected many of my off-hand quips and compiled them in what they called, “The Tao of Dr. Sexton”. On the last day of class, they stood up and gave me a standing ovation and presented me with many of the sayings found on this list.
By itself, this list of thoughts and ideas have no earth shattering truths in and of themselves. It is my belief, founded through my own observations and experiences, that while there are indeed certain truths that are self-evident and unalienable, such truths, void of the context experienced by human beings, are for the most part without meaning and have no instructive value. It has become my conclusion that our universe exists to be observed and to be interacted by sentient beings whose individual and collective awareness provides context, purpose, and meaning to even the most smallest of the fundamental laws that govern our world. Stated in more simple terms, while the facts of a matter may speak for themselves, the truth of a situation is often difficult to perceive because it can not and does not exist separate from the context in which it is found. In the end, this list of sayings, thoughts, and ideas is my attempt to create a way - a tao (so to speak) that helps clarify and guides me to the truth defined by the context of life's challenges and struggles. The end result being that as a leader and a follower, I able to make good and healthy decisions that are in harmony with my own purposes and the purposes of those I either serve or lead.
As you begin your own journey in leadership, I know that you will create your own list. I wish you all the best and know that you will find your own way – a way that is neither the road most taken or the less taken, but is instead your own road -the road you make with everyone you touch.
How this book is organized
Truth is not linear. Neither, are the universe and its laws. Readers seeking to find a system of thought that are predicated on one truth building on another will be disappointed. This book is not a blue print for how to build a better school or a set of directions on how to proceed in becoming a better leader. Rather, it is more like a wood fire stove or a campfire where the glow of individual embers float on and above the fire. The individual light from each ember at first seems to be no different from any of the light that is emitting from the other embers, but with patient observance, differences do emerge.
Watching the embers rise, it becomes apparent that there are many movements occurring all at once. Some embers rise faster than others, while some move to the back of the fire and others seem to dance in all directions, rising and falling independently of each other. There is a harmony to this dance. But unlike music, the harmony is multidimensional; it is unpredictable; the possibilities of movement are unlimited and it flows in many directions simultaneously. This multidimensional harmony reflects, connects and gives expression to the fire below and the embers floating above. It causes some embers to burn more brilliantly and others to wane and disappear quickly. But whether an ember lasts for minutes or disappears in seconds, the truth of what is happening is best understood in the totality of the whole event; not just a momentary slice.
The many principles that are explored in this book are connected. Some are only themes and a variation of others while some are stand alone truths that are self-evident and need no explanation. But all of these principles are nevertheless connected. While they cannot be understood in words alone, they can be known. The Tao, as expressed in this book, are principles expressed in both eastern and western thought and have been known for ages; yet for whatever reasons, they are principles that seem difficult for leaders to embrace and put into practice. It may be that these democratic principles represent only one side of an equation that is balanced by a negative inverse of fascism and machiavellian leadership. Certainly, the pull and allure of fascist leadership has been observed and written about for thousands of years. However, it is my belief and thinking that the absolute value of this equation is best reflected in the democratic principles of leadership and that these principles represent our best response for solutions that require effective, creative, and innovative leadership.
Douglas Sexton, Ed.D.
I've been in education for over 32 years. During that time, I've served as a bus driver, teacher, principal, and an assistant professor. Throughout the years, I've often thought about leadership and to this day, I continue to think about it. I find myself wondering, "What makes a leader successful?" These musings, as my graduate students put it, are my Tao.