Disruption, Innovation, and Success from Egypt: A New Insight


This week at a talk, I came to understand for the first time that my novel The Oasis Within is about disruption, innovation, and success, both personal and organizational.

When it came to me in 2011 as a mental movie, suddenly appearing one morning from the first scene and proceeding throughout the entire story, I first thought of it as a coming of age story about a 13 year old boy who is crossing the desert in Egypt in 1934 with his wise old uncle. They talk about inner peace, the power that things have for good or ill, the immense power of the mind, the way to know our personal calling in life, the four elements that structure people’s personalities and how to identify which element leads in anyone’s life, the deepest secrets we have about success, the ways we can best prepare for any form of trouble, and what the boy’s uncle calls “The Gift of Uncertainty.”

Shortly after the book was published, I got a letter from across the world in which a businessman told me that it was his favorite leadership book ever. I had not thought of it as a leadership book at all, but after his note, I re-read it and came to see what he had seen. It is indeed a leadership book, but it’s a life book as well.

I was asked to speak at a conference on disruption and innovation, as one of the keynote speakers. And, as it turned out, the event was days after Hurricane Florence hit my home directly, taking out massive numbers of trees, blocking roads, and flooding highways. There was no power, or internet or cable, and only on and off cell service. I had to get to northern Minnesota by noon on Thursday, and in the aftermath of the massive storm on Sunday, it looked impossible. I had read during the storm, for about the fourth or fifth time, The Odyssey, the tale of Odysseus, the “storm tossed man.” Big O was praised for his adaptability and innovation, a resilient creativity that got him out of every tight spot. I used the wisdom of the ages with his example and got to my event. Five days of planning, six airplane reservations, a night in via, an unexpected rental car necessity to avoid T storms in the north, and I arrived at the destination, and at a new understanding of my own book.

And now, I can see years later that The Oasis Within is all about how to deal with disruption, create innovation, and attain success in any challenging circumstances.

I learn more about my own work from your emails, your notes, and talks I’m asked to give. If you haven’t see the book yet, I hope you will soon and that you will tell me what it is to you!