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Home / Archive / Book Reviews - April 2008

Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership,
Joseph Jaworski

Review by James Ure

Modernism is on the decline, and many business leaders are uncertain what to do about it. Modernism’s business model is built on structure, organized leadership and individuality, and its guiding principle is the “bottom line.” It is a model that has propelled business through both nationalism and inter-nationalism, and has helped to generate great wealth. But a new model is emerging.

The new model is built on connectedness, organic leadership, and wholeness, and instead of the “bottom line,” this new model’s guiding principle is relationship. This model is new and uncomfortable; it requires a fundamental shift in the heart—as well as the mind—of those whose businesses will lead out over the next century. It is a post-modern model. It compels leaders to look internally and question modernist assumptions that have been held sacred. But it promises to guide leaders to a higher awareness and much deeper connectedness, vesting business with more meaning than it has ever known before. Joseph Jaworski calls this higher state of being Synchronicity.

In Synchronicity, Jaworski gives us a personal, naked, auto-biographical sketch of his life, from his beginning as a highly-paid but dissatisfied trial lawyer, to an even more prestigious—yet still unsatisfying—role as cofounder of Fulbright and Jaworski, a prestigious international law firm. He describes a series of events that cause him to eventually leave the firm and create the American Leadership Forum, which focuses specifically on developing leadership in American communities, businesses and administration. 

Jaworski’s writing is personal and delicate. The reader feels like he is one of Jaworski’s most closely trusted friends, with whom Jaworski can share his life’s most painful, exciting, and meaningful experiences. For instance, he shares an experience he had with an ermine, a small mammal, in the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming. He says of the ermine, "She couldn't have been more than ten feet from me. All at once she appeared with her almost black eyes looking directly into mine … She sat there staring straight at me, moving not a whisker." He added, "We communicated, that ermine and I, and for those few minutes, I experienced what I can only describe as a kind of transcendence of time and a feeling of oneness with all the universe." 

Several of the experiences Jaworski shares cause the reader to reflect on their own experiences with connectedness, and their own barriers.

Jaworski says that we need to take the time to really search ourselves internally and discover what our destiny is, and then we need to submit ourselves to it regardless of what it costs. He personally felt a sense of destiny to promote a new kind of leadership but he felt restricted in what he could do at the law firm. Finally, he built up the courage and just walked away. He says, "[a]t the moment I walked away from the firm, a strange thing happened. I clearly had no earthly idea how I would proceed. I knew no one who could help me on the substantive side of things, no network of experts. …. Yet, at this point, strangely enough most of my concerns and doubts about the enormity of the project were erased. I had a great sense of internal direction and focus, and an incredible sense of freedom that I had never felt before in my entire life." He says that when we look internally to find our sense of destiny, and when we submit to it, something miraculous happens. “The day I left the firm, I crossed the threshold. From that point on, what happened to me had the most mysterious quality about it. Things began falling into place almost effortlessly - unforeseen incidents and meetings with the most remarkable people who were to provide crucial assistance to me.” 

He describes how Robert Greenleaf’s works on servant leadership, David Bohm’s works on wholeness as the implicate order in the universe, and the oneness implicit in Bell’s Theorum all somehow worked their way into his life once he made this decision, giving him the direction he needed. This time in his life was full of chance encounters, hunches that led to instrumental additions, and a sense of destiny that was laced throughout what others might see as randomness. 

David Bohm was especially instrumental. He told Jaworski that everything is connected to everything else, and everything is enfolded in everything. "If you reach deeply into yourself, you are reaching into the very essence of mankind. When you do this you will be lead into the generating depth of consciousness that is common to the whole of mankind and that has the whole of mankind enfolded in it." Bohm said that we are all connected, but people create barriers between each other. If these barriers are removed, human beings can operate as one mind, and pull together.

Near the end of the book, Jaworski references the inscription that hung over the entrance to Jung’s house in Switzerland: Vocatus atque vocatus, Deus aderit – “Invoked or not invoked, God is present.” While most post-modern philosophies leave God out, Jaworski makes a handful of references to God and his involvement throughout the book. This makes his philosophies especially palatable to those of us who buy into many of the ideas of post-modernism but refuse to accept it as a religion.

We follow Jaworski as he learns to submit to synchronicity and harness its power. We see his failures and his successes, but ultimately we end with a sense that if someone as human as Jaworski can do it, so can we. He says that “[i]f we have truly committed to follow our dream, there exists beyond ourselves and our conscious will a powerful force that helps us along the way and nurtures our growth and transformation. Our journey is guided by invisible hands with infinitely greater accuracy than is possible through our unaided conscious will." 

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James Ure is a full-time faculty member of George Wythe College. He received his B.A. in English from Brigham Young University and graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law. He and his wife, Angela, have two children.