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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Leadership with a Twist

We’re updating our records on the books in our collection, and I’ve been spending a lot of time in the stacks lately as a result. This wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t have so many interesting books in our collection. Every other book, it seems, beckons with an interesting title or subject, and most of the time, I must fight the urge to pick it up and peek inside. Why? Because peeking turns into scanning, which evolves into perusing, which inevitably leads to full-blown reading if the subject and presentation are engaging enough (in my experience, they often are). If I gave in to my desires, I’d spend all my time reading, and I’d never get any real work done.

Every now and then, though, I cave and allow my curiosity to get the best of me. I come across a gem that I can’t pass up. This was exactly what happened when I stumbled upon a Star Trek book yesterday. I never even had half a chance of ignoring this book. See, I have this condition – I’m a Trekkie. I have a particularly aggressive form of the condition, and it’s at a very advanced stage. But I’m living with it, and I have it under control. Pretty much. Kind of.

As soon as I saw the words “star” and “trek” on the spine of the book, I knew I was done for. Initially, I thought it must be some Trek novel that somehow ended up between Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun and Leadership Lessons from the New York Fire Department. I plucked the Star Trek book from the shelf to see if it was something I’d read already. It most definitely was not something I’d read before. It wasn’t even a novel. It was Make It So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It wasn’t out of place at all on this shelf; it fit right in, actually. Whoa.

You already know what happened next. I was beyond peeking. I scanned and perused, and the book is now on my desk with a bookmark tucked between pages 74 and 75. That’s how far I got before I remembered that I needed to write this blog post.

The further along I get in this book, the more I like it. Not only is it a meaningful commentary about leadership told via Star Trek, but I would also consider it a work of fanfiction. For those of you unfamiliar with fanfiction, it’s when fans write stories involving fictional characters, mostly from t.v. shows or films, but also from books, plays, and video games.

Do I write fanfiction? Yes (I know – I’m a nerd to the core), and apparently so do Wess Roberts and Bill Ross, the authors of Make It So. Roberts and Ross discuss multiple leadership themes by examining various episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". The kicker is that the discussions of leadership and leadership qualities are derived from Roberts’s research but are presented through the eyes of Jean-Luc Picard, the captain of the Enterprise. The book is presented as a collection of entries from Picard’s personal journal. It’s supposed to form a type of leadership guidebook for future Starfleet Academy cadets, complete with chapter introductions “written” by a Starfleet Admiral who’s also the superintendent of the Academy.

Who would have ever thought I’d find fanfiction in the stacks? There’s no telling what else I could find!

Roberts, Wess and Bill Ross. Make it So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek: The Next Generation, New York: Pocket Books, 1995.

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