Happy Holidays 2008 – Welcome 2009


ams-at-museum

 

Happy Holiday from Andrea at The Museo de Arte Popular , Mexico City, Mexico

http://www.museoartepopularmexicano.org/

 

In this the best of all possible worlds, I celebrate this season, thankful for trustworthy family and friends. This has been a year where I was able to travel to Mexico three times and was privileged to meet amazing people.  Interviewing leaders in Mexico provides me with the experience I need to become a better listener and it helped hone my ability to give people more thoughtful feedback (nothing harder).

 

That is the best but what can we learn from the challenges? Can we learn anything from the financial world’s failure? There are similarities between large and small systems. Just as in a family this breakdown seems to have occurred with a lack of regulation, little or no transparency or feedback, and a failure of leaders to define problems well enough. Clearly there has been a lack of awareness about the long term impact of short term decisions. I am not saying it’s easy for family members or financial leaders to see the slow erosion of clear communication, and trust but I am saying these kinds of problems can snowball any system into a non functional state very quickly.

 

We see the break down of trust leading to a reassessment of how to invest in the future.  We see how the negative vision of one man, Bernard Madoff, leading to financial failure for his colleagues, friends and family. The dark side of human nature will always be with us. But how do we understand the relationships system that leads to or even promotes this kind of outcome?

 

In a new book, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, looks at social forces impacting individual success. His explanation may also provide hints about those who represent the other extreme, the outliers of greed. Both are impacted by the social groups surrounding them. Clearly people are not rational utility-maximizing individuals. They are emotional social creatures subject to the delusions of the crowd. Gladwell’s ideas will slowly work to alter a world view that is focused on individuals as prime movers.

 

We use to believe the word was flat now we believe it’s all up to the individual.  Gladwell notes: “I am explicitly turning my back on, I think, these kinds of empty models that say, you know, you can be whatever you want to be. Well, actually, you can’t be whatever you want to be. The world decides what you can and can’t be.”

 

dragon-museum

 

 

Art inspires and so perhaps the magical dragon pictured above will give us courage in the face of our current economic situation. 

The dragon told me he sees a coming transformation from an information society to a more compassionate society.

The dragon understands that all of us, the socially well positioned and the poor, are dependent on trust and on understanding the environment surrounding us.

The dragon watches how well we are we learning to adapt to a new reality.   

 

 

Without vision there is no art. Art express people’s deep understandings and can provoke emotions of joy as shown in the above picture. I hope to communicate my gratitude to one and all for the opportunities I have been given. I will be living in the moment with the dragon of uncertainty and the butterfly of hope.

 

 

butterfly-museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, I followed Maria Bustos suggestion and ask to interview Marie Therese Hermand de Arango. Judy Ball was kind enough to edit and to ask good question.  She has become my left brain. I see the following interview as a demonstration of how one person, following her vision, promotes many others to do well.

 

Interview with Marie Therese Hermand de Arango

Marie Therese Hermand de Arango, founder of the Museo de Arte Popular (MAP) which celebrates indigenous art created by people living in Mexico was hard at work behind the counter waiting on customers.  Maria and I had been invited to the Museum’s yearly fund-raising event to interview Ms. de Arango for my book.. Every year many people, who support the Museum, donate clothes, jewelry, and various items to be sold to raise money to support the work of the Museum. Here was the excitement of both being for self, buying something useful or exciting, while being for others and supporting a good cause.

 

 

I was both looking around and looking forward to meeting Marie Therese Hermand de Arango when she walked over to say we could shop until she was ready for the interview.  She was full of positive energy, working with people, just like the other volunteers.  I had expected a more reserved museum founder and director but found a down-to-earth authentic person with a calm presence.  She did not make a big deal of her role.  At the moment she was an example of grace under pressure.

 

 

After she had handed over her job to anther woman, she led us to a table, away from the crowds of bargain hunters. She asked how I had come to write a book about leaders. I answered her with the following:  explained that as a family therapy therapist, I had observed how small family groups handle problems, noting that one person always emerges as a leader. No matter how much chaos or “craziness” in a family, eventually some family member gets tired of it, and begins to find ways to stand up for a principle.  That person, the emergent family leader decides in that moment of standing up, that the principle is more important then giving in and going along with the craziness in the group.

 

I explained that I realized this emergent leadership process in families applied to other small groups.   From these observations, I created a visual picture of a Mindful Compass to capture the four elements that emergent leaders demonstrate and that others could learn to use.   Usually the stories leaders tell me about themselves have these four ingredients:

1) I have decided, this is what I’m going to do; 

2) If you don’t like it O.K., I will try not to react to any negativity;

3) I will use my knowledge of relationships to move my vision forward and

(4) I might have to stand alone but I am standing up for a different way of seeing or doing things.

 

 Leadership requires thinking strategically about the relationships forces one encounters.  The Mindful Compass allows anyone to understand this natural process and to be more prepared for inevitable problems.  

 

MTA: That’s good.

 

AMS: I wanted to interview leaders who had never heard of family therapy, to collect their stories about how they learned to be leaders in their own family, and to build a bridge from what they learned in their family to how they managed at work and eventually how they were able to give back to their communities.

 

MTA: Exactly. An example of people coming together to give back to their community is  the Museum Board.  The Museum Board members are all leaders and have raised around twenty million dollars to make this dream a reality.

 

AMS: Clearly you are a living example of a leader who can bring people together to accomplish goals.  People are drawn to specific goals that will make a meaningful change in their community.  Still, there is a lot of pressure on leaders to both articulate the mission and do it in a way that captures people’s hearts. 

 

I am sure that people are drawn to the energy that you have, but they may know nothing of your journey as a leader. 

 

I usually ask people to describe a little bit about their family of origin, and how they learned in their family about becoming a leader.  I am interested in who you admired as a youngster, what you learned from your family and how that helped you in school, in your community, and now in your work.

 

MTA: I was born in Egypt of an Egyptian mother and Belgian father.

My father, a very good-looking man, was in the Belgian Army and stationed in the Belgian Congo.  He came to Egypt on leave and met my mother. After they met, he left the army and stayed in Egypt. As I recall he liked the sun in Egypt. He didn’t like Belgium. He adored the people in Belgium but he didn’t like the rain.

 

AMS: What is your sibling position? 

 

MTA: I’m an only child. Before my mother met my father she had married and become the widow of an Egyptian man.   I have two half brothers who are Egyptian. One is dead and the other is alive.

 

AMS: Which one died?

 

MTA: The older brother who passed away lived in Greece. He died last year of cancer. And the younger one, who’s married to a French woman, lives in Paris . We all get adopted by the country where we are.  Now I have been adopted by the Mexican people and I have a Mexican husband.

 

AMS: That’s a wonderful way to see how moving from one country to another effects us. You adopt the country and the people of the country adopt you..

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MTA: I’ve been in Mexico now for the last 42 years. I have two daughters; one is 28 and the other is 24. One of them works in the Museum. She created what is called La Tienda del MAP, the Store of the MAP. She is doing wonderfully well. In addition we have opened a store in the airport. We represent 400 communities of artisans from all over Mexico.

 

AMS: That’s amazing.

 

MTA: We are selling much more than we ever expected, even in our wildest dreams.

 

AMS: How did this happen?

 

MTA: I think we’ve been very good at creating consciousness in the Mexican public of what wonderful art we have here in Mexico. Many Mexicans were not aware of this.  It really took a foreigner to see and appreciate the incredible art that the people of this country have given us.  Now Mexicans seem to understand the value of the art and you can see this in their enthusiasm for the art and this Museum.   The Museum would never have made it if I alone were the enthusiastic one.   

 

AMS: But you had the original idea for creating a Museum?

 

MTA: I had the idea about 10 years ago. I talked to various people and we started creating it in 1999.

 

AMS: Where did you get the idea?

 

MTA: I have always loved art, even as a young person living in Egypt.  When I came to Mexico I started collecting different pieces created by Mexican artists. I didn’t have much money.  My family had been thrown out of Egypt with nothing. My mother had been a landowner in Egypt. But the revolutionary leadership didn’t like the idea of foreigners like my father owning big properties in Egypt. So we had to leave.[1]

 

AMS: When did you leave Egypt?

 

MTA: We left Egypt in 1963. We went to New York where my father found a job as General Manager of the St Regis Hotel in New York.   In Egypt my fatherworked with Baron Empain, the President of a large  company.  I learned to appreciate art from both my parents but not from their businesses.

 

Much of this experience made me what I am today.   

 

I realized that the Museum needed to have a board of directors with a broad vision and reach into the community.  So when we founded the Museum in 1999, I invited 70 members onto the Board. Some people helped by making donations and others brought knowledge. 

 

Everyone brings a lot of love, dedication and, of course, many working hours. As you can see, we have a group of awesome advisors. In addition we have another Board of young people between the ages of 35 and 40. 

 

The current President of the younger Board is Fernanda Suárez de Guerra.  I want her to take my place when the time comes for me to leave.

AMS: She is a leader for tomorrow. I am hoping that stories of today’s leaders will help prepare people for tomorrow’s problems.   

What made you leave New York and come to Mexico?

 MTA: There was a Spanish friend of my father, Cesar Balsa, who created a chain of hotels, cafeterias and restaurants in Mexico.  He offered my father the vice-presidency of the Nacional Hotelera.

 

AMS: How old were you?

 

MTA: I was 17, full of life. I had finished my French degree in New York. I went to France and studied the history of ideas for two years in 1973 and 1974.   I lived on my own, studied at l’Ecole du Louvre in Paris and worked as an interpreter for UNESCO in special conferences.   It helped that I spoke five languages. 

 

AMS: Then you came back to Mexico after you finished?

MTA: I came back to Mexico after France.

 

AMS: You met your husband while you were in France?

 

MTA: No, no I met my husband here in Mexico. It took him a long time to make his decision so we had different boyfriends and girlfriends for awhile. He was 39 when we got married.  A man who waits makes a very good husband and father once he decides to get married.

 

AMS: Do you still fight with him about how he could improve a little?

 

MTA: Yes, no, maybe…. He is too much of an idealist. I’m the realistic one and he is the idealistic one. So maybe that’s what we differ about. I think that different backgrounds always make things more complicated. There is a lot of respect and admiration between us that is extraordinary in my experience.

 

AMS: Right. Any two people who marry encounter complicated issues, but when backgrounds are different it is more challenging to deeply appreciate the other’s viewpoints.

 

AMS: And what about your grandparents?

 

MTA: My mother’s parents were originally from Syria.   My grandfather was a poet and a writer. My grandmother was from a well-to-do family. 

.

AMS: Tell us about your father?

 

MTA: My father was an only child. His mother was also a widow who remarried.

 

They lived in Leige, Belgium. I never met my grandfather who died before I was born.  I saw very little of my grandmother because she lived in Belgium.  I really don’t know much about her.

 

I know much more about my Egyptian family.   My mother was the youngest of 3 sisters. She had a brother who died early in life and he was the youngest.

 

 

AMS: How old was he when he died?

 

MTA: He was in his thirties. I am not sure of his exact age.

 

AMS: More and more people now are looking into their family trees.   Our current democratic nominee for president Obama wrote a book called Dreams of My Father about his search for his family roots. 

 

 

(Bill Clinton was born on August 19, 1946, in Hope, Arkansas. His given name was William Jefferson Blythe IV. He never knew his father, William Jefferson Blythe III, a traveling salesman who died in a car accident several months before Bill was born. After Bill became president, he and his mother learned that his father had been married at least three other times and that Bill had a half brother and half sister whom he had never met. Bill took the name William Jefferson Clinton after his mother remarried. http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761564341/bill_clinton.html) 

 

 

But most of us, especially if we immigrate, can lose track of the multigenerational people in our family. Families drift apart.

 

 

MTA: You think so?  My father became very Egyptian.  He even learned to speak Arabic which is difficult for a Belgian.

 

 

AMS: People in your family have a good ear for language.   Were any of them musicians?

 

 

MTA: No, my brother who died had a textile factory. The other one, a medical doctor. did research in Paris.  He is now retired and plays bridge very well.   In fact, we all play bridge in our family. French education is very good at teaching you to discipline your mind, which you need to do to play bridge well.

 

When I came to Mexico I thought it was one of the loveliest countries in the world and wanted to get to know the country.   So I traveled throughout all of Mexico in a bus. 

 

I was really inspired by Mexico. I thought what I saw was beautiful, and I bought  lovely pieces of art made by local artisans. When I had a little bit more money I started a very good art collection which is in my house in Acapulco.  Eventually I started meeting with local artisans. When I went to visit them and tried to buy things from them, we talked and they became appreciative of my interest and knowledge of Mexican art.  Eventually I was selected to be on the jury for the National Arts and Crafts Group, where artists present their best pieces and the jury judges which ones deserve a prize.   Tonatiuh Gutierrez, a friend of my husband, joined me on this jury until his death.  I was invited all over Mexico to judge these events.

 

I met my mentor, Maria Teresa Pomar, who is the greatest connoisseur of popular art in Mexico during this period. She wanted to create a museum but she had no means to do it. Her husband was in the Communist Party, so we were from very different worlds. But we got along wonderfully and we worked hand in hand to make this dream come true.

 

AMS: One of the things you said which strikes a very deep chord with me is that the people in Mexico at one time couldn’t appreciate the work of indigenous Mexican artists.

This happens in many countries where the native people have been conquered, including Ireland and the United States.  My family history contains the stories of both slaves and slave owners.  Even though I’m Irish, (Maloney is my family name), I have Belgian ancestors, the Brabazon’s, who came to Ireland in 1650.  These conquering Belgians participated in taking precious things away from the native people of Ireland, including the Irish sense of their own accomplishments including their art.   The people in Ireland accepted this situation for many years.

 

MTA: Because you want to take over that culture, you impose your religion and language.

 

AMS: Exactly. The urge to conquer others seem deeply rooted in our biological instincts. 

You don’t even think about it. But as time passes the old culture comes to be respected. 

 

MTA: It is true. Also much of Mexican art came from the influence of the Spanish and  Arab worlds.  Both cultures have influenced Mexican art.

 

AMS: And you can see that?

 

MTA: Very easily.  The Mexicans were influenced by travelers from the Philippines and China. The Spanish Conquistadores brought all their art too and through them, the influences of the Arab world. Art develops over time as one culture influences another. In Mexico, the art of the people started when the Spaniards arrived.  There is a separation between the two worlds of indigenous Mexican art and Hispanic art. The Spanish appreciated Mexican art and the two civilizations became one.

 

AMS: I believe many people have the idea that the more they know about their family, the more connected people are to history in general. By looking at the past people are often more able to figure out what the future might bring. Your past is somehow informing your vision for the future. You could say one’s love of learning about the past allows us to understand more about patterns and or trends and thereby create a better future. This is true about knowing and appreciating the history of art as well as knowing and appreciating the history of relationships.

 

MTA: I remember my daughter, the one who is 28 years old, always telling my Mother, “We know so little about your family. Why don’t you tell us more?”  I never paid attention to it. I was not aware of its importance. I never gave it the significance I do today.

AMS: This is a relatively new problem.  One hundred years ago most people lived very close to many generations of their family and there were about six living children in each family.   Now everybody lives where they want and with that distance the old family ties are fraying.

 

Today there is far more focus on the nuclear family partially due to the distance from the older generations plus the small number of children being born to each family. In the United States, we have on average only 1.7 children in each family. The grandparents are often living far away so that many people today do not even know the names or any stories about their grandparents. They often do not know what kind of lives their grandparents live or lived.  Perhaps this would change if people believed this knowledge is important to their basic functioning and their future.

 What is the impact you would like to make in Mexico?      

MTA: I think that our impact, all of us working for the museum, is that we, through this Museum, are providing a venue for the work of 8 million artists. If you add to this the fact that these artists are able to sell their art in the market place, then the impact and influence may expand to as many as 20 million people. That is one fifth of the Mexican population.  Now many of these people need two jobs to survive. But if we can give one person a better job then hopefully they will not need to flee to the United States, as many poor people and artist do, or work the second job.[2] 

(The Mexican standard of living is way below the US or Europe. The minimum wage is 46 pesos per day, about £2.20, or $4 US Dollars. There is little or no welfare state and no unemployment benefit. Mexico is one of the 4 worst countries in Latin America for income distribution.http://www.mexico-child-link.org/mexico-factfile-statistics.htm)

 

Also, the Museum has published a book called “Arte del Pueblo: Manos de Dios”,

Art of the People: Hands of God. The title was created for us by Carlos Fuentes, the writer. He is a member of our Board too.

 

AMS:  Do you think about creating this story for television since you have affected so many people?

 MTA: I never thought I could be sufficiently eloquent to tell this story, but for the last three years, I have spoken on TV and radio and been interviewed by newspapers.   I’ve written prologues to books.   All of this was new to me.  I was not used to doing any of it.  I understand that it is very important that people become aware of our story so that they can repeat it and be inspired by it.

 

We still need to raise money and it is mostly the women on the Board who will do that work. This is our 5th year of holding “Vintage,” and as you see many people come and participate in selling their older treasures to help the museum.  This year we have raised more money in one day that we did in three days last year.

 

 

Frankly, I did not know much at all about philanthropy. My husband is a very good teacher.  He was instrumental in helping me understand how through the involvement of others in philanthropy, the museum could achieve its goals.  He has taught me how to do something very important for this country that has given so much to me. 

 

AMS: How do you think he taught you?

 

 

 MTA: I made fun of him when he started an organization called Centro Mexicano de  Filantropía. Mexican Center of Philanthropy. He started that twenty or more years ago.

 

Eventually, I understood what could be accomplished through philanthropy and I said, “Do you think you can teach me how to inspire people to give their money and their time?”  He passed on to me what he knew.   Now Mexico has many philanthropists.

 

AMS: Are many of these philanthropist entrepreneurs? 

 

MTA: Yes, one of my favorite examples is that of my father-in-law who started a wonderful business. He came here on a Spanish cargo ship when he was 14 years old. He paid his way by working on the ship. Then he married a Spaniard and they had three boys and two girls.  The three boys started a small shop and then enlarged it.  It grew into a chain of stores called Aurrera.  They sold the Aurrera chain to Wal-Mart.   The three brothers, each different from the other, were a good combination.

 

AMS: Which number was your husband of the three of them?

 

MTA : He was the youngest. 

 

AMS: The youngest is often the most charming and creative.

 

MTA: Yes, he is very creative and very charming.

 

AMS: Did he work with his Dad and all his brothers and sisters in the business?

 

MTA: No, the sisters were married and had children. They are housewives. 

 

AMS: What does he think about his family history? 

 

MTA: My husband knows a lot.  He hired someone to do an extensive family history. He thinks now that the most important people to try to influence are the ones who are capable of learning about philanthropy.  He believes that Mexico has tremendous opportunities and immense problems.

 

AMS: Perhaps all nations have many opportunities and challenges.  I believe that the backbone of a nation is the family and the family is changing, at least in developed countries.  With fewer children to raise, the role of women changing, families more dispersed, the changes and challenges continue.  What do you think about that?

 

MTA: I’m not a feminist at all. I adore the fact that men are very willing to be polite and look after their wives and children.    But I realize this is not happening anymore. I was taught to be independent by my parents in a very European way. And my husband never wanted me to depend on him. So I take care of my own finances, the house and the children. I have really done my own thing. But it is also easier for me, because he wants me to be independent. Overall I think there is no reason why a man should be better than a woman.  

 

The government has given women more rights than before and many women are in government now, both of which are good. The Secretaries of Education and Foreign Affairs are women. We have women in many, many jobs from physicians and engineers to computer technology and business leaders.  Social entrepreneurs influencing the government are often women.  In addition many non-profits run by woman cooperate with the government to achieve change in Mexico.

 

We also created the Museum by convincing different governmental entities, including the government of Mexico City, the Federal government’s Ministries of Education and Culture and Art, of the importance of this Museum.  It has worked out beyond my wildest dreams, but it took a lot of fighting and stubbornness.

 

Mexican people are very polite and are often hesitant to say what they think. I’m very straight-forward and usually say what I think. But I had to learn new strategies to encourage people to support the museum and to raise seven million pesos a year to sustain it.

 

AMS: It might be interesting for others to learn how you did this.  You might write about how you approached different individuals, groups, businesses and the government, for support.

 

MTA: The only thing I really want to do now is be a housewife. My oldest daughter is getting married in a month and I want to be home with my family.  But many people are scolding me, asking “How can you think of staying at home when you’ve done what you’ve done?”   

 

I would love to be a good grandmother, and then maybe I can think about writing about how MAP came to life, but for now I want to be with my family.  

 

AMS: That’s what happened to me. My first grandchild was born in 1993 and as soon as that happened I thought I wanted to retire and write a book.  I am sure I was influenced by the larger family field.  I wanted to be closer to my daughter. We are deeply influenced as we are members of living systems which historically have recognized the importance of the group to individual development.

 

It does help each of us to see how our families have enabled us to, as they say, “be all that we can be.”   Sometimes people have to convince the family that their vision is good for both the future of the family and for the individual, but that is another story for another day.  Your family was pleased with your love of art. 

 

MTA: I have always loved art even when I was younger and living in Egypt.  I am pleased to have been able to show the art of the people of Mexico and to work with fantastic people to create this Museum for the people.

 

AMS:  Has the Museum Board been like a family to you?

 

MTA: Yes, very much so, and I think that they all are good examples for Mexican society of how any of us can give back to our community.

 

AMS: I’m grateful to you for giving your time for this interview. 

 

MTA:  This project for the Museum has given me life again. I’ve really been very happy to be able to make it a reality. It has given me energy, a new goal and a good reason to concentrate on healthy things and not on my problems.

 

AMS: That’s beautiful and a good example for all of us. 

 

MTA: When you are older and are no longer needed as a mother, then you have some time of your own. I am fortunate to be able to have the time in my life to give back to others what life has given to me and I do it with pleasure. That is wonderful.  That is the reason why the Museum project came out so well.

 

AMS: In your case love leads the way.

 

MTA: I agree, now I have to go back to work in my stand.

maria-teresa-arango-and-ams

 

Marie Therese Hermand de Arango Mindful Compass

 

(1)  The ability to define a vision:

Marie Therese Hermand de Arango tells us that she learned to appreciate art

from both of her parents at a young age.  Her parents valued education and encouraged her to follow her interests. In her youth she began collecting art on her own, despite not having much money.  She spoke of her deep appreciation for how art has an impact on people’s awareness of beauty and history. In an interesting twist, she wanted to collect art but ended up giving much of her collection back to the people through the Museum she helped found. 

 

Growing up in her family she was given the opportunity to see the inherent instability within a nation and this ended up emphasizing the importance of adapting to new cultures.  Her friendships and family provided a base through social instability.

 

Early on she became focused on understanding the history of ideas. This combined with her ability to speak languages lead her to work for UNISCO, providing her with knowledge of how larger organizations were run.  Once she decided to marry and become a Mexican she took an unusual trip on a bus to meet the people and see the country side.  Not many people think about how important it is to understand your country or to get to know the people and then set about doing it. An unexpected bonus occurred when she discovered the unappreciated talents of local artist. As she got to know the people and the art world she was able to put together a vision leading to the construction of a beautiful museum for the people.

 

Through the creation of the Museum, Marie Therese Hermand de Arango ensured the future of her vision, making it possible for all people to be able to see and appreciate the original art of the people of Mexico. She organized and gave life to the Museum, which has become a living gift to the people of Mexico and the world.

 

The Museum allows local artists to achieve world-wide recognition. It also allows local artists to give their work to their country. By promoting the work of Mexican artists and artisans, the Museum promotes jobs for people in the poorer sections of the country, creating ways for their art to be seen by the public. 

 

To bring any complex vision to life one has to have the ability to organize support for the venture.  Her passion is translated into energy for attracting and organizing a group of motivated people who brought this vision of a museum to life. To secure broad support in the country she put 70 very motivated members on the board of the Museum. In addition she created a Board of young people with the overarching goal of “creating consciousness in the Mexican public for those not aware of what wonders we have in Mexico.” 

 

Finally, she has the vision to provide for the leadership succession of the Museum. She has picked a younger woman to replace her when the time comes.  This is one of the signs of a mature leader, one who can select and mentor his or her replacement.

 

 

(2) The resistance to change in self and in any system:

When Marie Therese Hermand de Arango was young she saw that political circumstances forced her father have to leave Egypt and start over in new country.  He too had a vision and was unable to carry it out in Egypt. Her father did not pass on to her any negative stories about the changing circumstances. Instead the family rose to the challenge and was able to mobilize support from family friends to move to the United States.  Marie Therese Hermand de Arango saw how political forces operate.  We do not know what ideas she drew from this experience but we do know that she came out with the ability to work well with various government agencies and administrations.   In the best of all worlds government does enable a vision from the people, for the people, to come to life.    

 

On her arrival in Mexico, she took a bus tour to get to know the country and its people.   At the same time she discovered amazing art work that had been ignored by the people of Mexico.  This form of social resistance to indigenous art and the people who produce it is nothing new to those who have studied the history of ideas as has Marie Therese Hermand de Arango. 

 

There is nothing to dislike or get upset about when one runs into resistance. If you do it’s like disliking the second law of thermo dynamics. Nature is there to be understood and for those that are willing to make the effort they can see resistance as part of the price we pay for progress. Order begets disorder.

 

Those who can see and appreciate the process of resistance as part of the balance in nature and perhaps even a natural law, have the upper hand in formulating ideas to understand and overcome resistance.  Those who take it personally and look at resistance as evil or even as intentional willfulness, do less well in formulating strategies to deal with it because they don’t have a clear idea of how resistance emerges and dissipates.

 

 

Marie Therese Hermand de Arango encountered many obstacles when she approached the government for support of the museum.  But for every bit of resistance, she had the patience and energy to figure out how to move forward.  She could see the resistance in “the system” as an impersonal force, freeing her to face her own reluctance to move forward.

 

Marie Therese Hermand de Arango’s daughter is getting married.  Now her own family needs more from her, so she has begun to consider how she might reduce her full work schedule. As she told others about this possibility she encountered a new, but not unexpected. form of resistance. 

 

“I have had many people scolding me. How can you think of staying at home when you’ve done what you’ve done?” Stay tuned as to exactly what decision she will make. I for one am willing to make the bet that her decision will be more about her internal compass than the upset her decision may create in others. 

 

 

(3) The ability to connect and use systems knowledge:

Marie Therese Hermand de Arango negotiations with the government to gain support for the museum is perhaps the most complex example of having to use knowledge to connect with a wide variety of people.  How did she try to understand these complex systems of relationships?

 

First, she had a deep belief that the people of Mexico would eventually appreciate and support the art of the Mexican people. She believes that a committed board of directors would provide a diverse source of support for the museum.  These relationships were probably helpful as she dealt with the various governmental ministries to garner their support for the museum.  In addition she understood the subtleties of Mexican “culture”, noting that it is hard to know exactly what people are thinking because Mexican people are very polite and are sometimes afraid to say what they really think. She, on the other hand, is straight forward and outspoken.  Despite this difference she was able to persuade people to support the museum, which was no small task.

 

 

 

(4)The ability to be separate: 

Although this topic was not directly discussed, you can hear Marie Therese Hermand de Arango allude to it when she mentioned the bus trip she took around Mexico to get to know the people. She made this decision on her own.   On the trip she developed her own relationship with many people and artists.  From that experience she developed her own ideas about what she wanted to do to preserve and appreciate the art of the people.

 

Leadership often requires people to make decisions that others will not understand or approve of.  Such decisions may require the leader to stand alone, which is not a pleasant experience.  Yet standing alone is may in fact be required to get things done well. 

 

One way to gauge how well people can stand alone is to note how much they know about their extended family. The assumption is that if people are well connected to the past generations they will have an easier time facing challenges in their lives.  They will not put all of their eggs in one basket or rely on others for all the answers, but instead will develop a network of relationships including a firm foundation in the relationships in their extended family.  You can see how Marie Therese Hermand de Arango’s story is a good demonstration of this process.

 

Finally her husband was able to convey to her that he was willing to help her learn about philanthropy but that she was going to have to implement this project on her own. She gives him credit for his support and his encouragement. She had the freedom to learn and thereby to risk and to take action. The result is that she realized her vision, completing a complex process in the form of the Museum, which has become a great gift to the people of Mexico. 

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[1] The Egyptian economy was dominated by private capital until the revolution of 1952, which replaced the monarchy with a republic. The new government began to reorganize the economy along socialist lines in the late 1950s. The state played an increasing role in economic development through its management of the agricultural sector after the land reforms of 1952 and 1961. These reforms limited the amount of land an individual or family could own. In the early 1960s the government nationalized much of the industrial, financial, and commercial sectors of the economy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamal_Abdel_Nasser

 


 

One thought on “Happy Holidays 2008 – Welcome 2009

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