First Lead Yourself Part 2 - Any Questions?

Posted by Bruce Peters

Portrait of a man hiding his face behind a question mark against a white background


How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed In the Back, My Fingerprints Are on the Knife,  by Jerry Harvey, is without doubt, my favorite book title of all time. The book is a series of Harvey’s essays on how we collude in the outcomes in our personal and professional lives through the choices we make. At the core, his message is all about taking responsibility for the consequences of those choices.

After his passing, I wrote a eulogy about Professor Harvey. He is best known for his book and a concept detailed within the book; Abilene Paradox. However, my favorite of Harvey’s essays, is where he describes his concept of “non-teaching.”


In his later years, Harvey was a “professor” at George Washington University (GWU) School of Management. Why the use of quotes? Because while he was an official professor in designation, Harvey did not like the term. Remember, he was a practitioner of non-teaching. In his role as professor, he was to teach Business Ethics 101. It was a required course for all GWU School of Mgt. The class was regularly attended by 100-plus students.

The first day of class Harvey would walk into the overflowing amphitheater-like classroom armed with no notes or any other teaching aids that students have come to expect from teachers.

Harvey would simply ask, as only he could do in his West Texas draw, “Any questions?” He’d pause, full of hopeful anticipation.

Harvey’s pause was filled with silence. With no questions from the students Harvey would, without explanation, leave.

Harvey would reappear at the next scheduled class session. Without delay or comment, Harvey would say again in that same distinctive West Texas accent, “And … any questions?”

Silence ensued. With no questions to answer, Harvey would once again leave.

Well, you can imagine the reaction of the students. Sooner or later, and after several abbreviated sessions following his “Any questions?” a student would ask a question.

“Professor Harvey, why do you keep leaving?”

Harvey’s answer was brief and again, with a question. He’d ask, “Why do you think?"

It’s On You

Why do you think? That is the question Jerry Harvey and I have for you. Why did he leave?

Come join us in one of my upcoming FLP classes for answers; yours, Harvey’s, my own, and that of your fellow participants.

Any questions?

The next FLP begins on September 12th. There are 3 fall sessions to choose from.

Learn more about  Facilitative Leadership (FLP)

Topics: FLP

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