Manfred Kets de Vries, Raoul de Vitry d’Avaucourt Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Director of the INSEAD Global Leadership Centre, takes readers out of their comfort zone in his latest book, which has grown out of his conviction that many business academics have lost touch with the people they should be trying to help. His aim is twofold: to persuade executives to take time out to reflect on what really counts in their lives and to shake academics down from their ivory towers and make them more attuned to the real problems of real people, instead of trying to impress one another.
Like Kets de Vries’s other work in psychoanalysis and leadership development, the essays in this book were inspired by stories told to him by executives. But they are not just business stories: the problems these stories identify are about the really big things in life – sex, money, happiness and death. “The time is right to deal with these issues,” he says, “as I am no longer young enough to know everything."
We all struggle with the sometimes conflicting demands of biology and society; the confusion of self worth and net worth; and the anxiety about whether what we are doing and where we are going will make us happy. And we all have to face the fact of death. In the most personal essay in this collection, Kets de Vries examines how we manage that knowledge and confrontation through an account of his own grief following the death of his mother. Arguing that “we stay young by focusing on our dreams rather than on our regrets”, the book concludes with an appeal for us all to live our lives authentically, to look forward, and to capture our own dreams.