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Monday, February 23, 2015

"Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese

“You go somewhere when you’re on the ice,” 
Virgil said to me after one practice. 
“It’s like watching you walk into a secret place 
that no one else knows how to get to.”

Hockey is the saving grace of young Saul Indian Horse’s life. Lost to his family and orphaned in his grandmother’s arms, eight-year-old Saul is discovered at an icy railroad stop in northern Ontario and stolen away to spend the next six years at St. Jerome’s Indian Residential School.

“St. Jerome’s took all the light from my world,” Saul remembers. He saw children die of abuse or suicide, with whatever they had to take themselves away from hell on earth: a pitchfork; rocks to weigh down a dress in water; rope to swing from the rafters of a barn. Anything, even death, was better than the despair of suffering the school’s daily humiliations.

It is a hockey ice rink, built at St. Jerome’s during Saul’s second winter, that saves him. In the years that follow, the crack of light opened by hockey will widen to include friendships, community, and a home life for Saul. Short and skinny—“a bag of antlers”—he earns his place on a reserve team with his honed skill and speed. 

Shunned by the mill and mining town teams, the reserve players create their own bush league circuit. Through tough play they make each other better, but they cannot overcome the racism that rages through the game. Eventually, it unleashes a fury in Saul that he cannot control. 

Looking back on his life, Saul must tell his story to save himself. But to do that, he must remember. And to remember is to see clearly the darkest truth of his time at St. Jerome’s. Richard Wagamese gives Saul Indian Horse all the vision he needs, and what he sees is both devastating and beautiful.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Give and Take: a Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

February 11, 2015

In his 1986 autobiography Is that it? Bob Geldof, the Irish rock musician and humanitarian, quotes Mother Theresa on giving. “When you give, give generously and without conditions,” said the Albanian nun known for her lifelong devotion to the poorest of the poor. But in organizational dynamics, it’s not that simple—an individual may be a giver, a matcher or a taker or a complex combination of the three. Their dominant tendency will not only shape their career, and the satisfaction they draw from it, it can also create a ripple effect throughout the organizations and the communities they serve.

The giving that The Wharton School's Adam Grant studies is not primarily of the charitable kind, but it is no less generous. Grant’s givers may or may not be writing cheques to worthy causes, but they share a common aptitude and interest in supporting the well-being and fulfillment of others. In Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Grant describes how wise “givers” have conditions, and that is not a bad thing.  Among those who give wisely, many can tell a story of being taken for a ride (or two) before they realized that not everyone they helped was going to pay it forward. 

Grant’s case studies are experts in the gift of time—not freeing up time, but time given to mentorship and helping others to grow their skills and networks. By bringing their stories together in Give and Take, Adam Grant creates an expanded definition of what it means to give in life, and at the office.