Design The Will to Act

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Occupational therapy practitioners are found in a variety of industries outside of health care, including automotive, architecture and non-profit sectors. Jim Burns is a major in the U.S. Army as well as chief of O.T. at Evans Army Community Hospital in Fort Carson, Colorado. He quoted Max Depree to support his opinion of what the key aspect of leadership is: selfless service.

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality; the last is to say ‘Thank you.’ In between the two, the leader must become a servant.


Burns integrates an abridged version of the U.S. Army’s leadership development philosophy, which he goes into more detail about in his article about defining reality.  His philosophy includes seven values: Discipline, Motivation, Altruism, Physical Fitness, Continuing Education, Creativity, Respectful.

Within these values he emphasized behavior patterns, goal setting, and communication. Each requires an internal force or the will to act. What will enable your soft start for the will to act on building leadership values?

Collaboration and connection are a one-two-PUNCH towards achievement. Our social being uses our senses to form opinions. Literally, design the will to act on leadership values, personally connecting and maintaining awareness through collaboration. Begin leadership building with (idea #1) choosing your surroundings. The type of information you choose to take in with your senses transforms into initiating brain activity. It’s the “language in which the nervous system does its business,” according to Princeton University professor William Bialek (National Academies, 2008).

Being amongst individuals that have achieved or are working towards similar interests is an excellent resource of who to surround yourself.  What surrounds you will engage your senses to react with behavior and when you surround your self with people or objects will determine the energy you put forth. How you choose these collaborative and connecting elements will set your pace to achieve the goals and patterns of a leader.

Accountability while you strive may take on a unique form; (idea #2) prepare for the unusual and unexpected. It begins with who, what, when and how you surround your self. Then in-between, as Jim and Max (plus those in the U.S. army ) vow to, is servanthood. Servants attend to their task with a keen ear, an eye for detail and a voice for the necessary. Their senses stay tuned, sharpened by their surroundings and adjustable to attain the goal.  In return, accountability and value is the reward.

Consider the shadows you stand under – constraints, habits, naivety – in your surroundings and within your comfort zone. Then remind your self that leadership is within your reach, in your line of sight, in your way of living!

GIG Design | Intellectual Performance


DESIGN^body position | Consider your stage of life and history then opt-in a nap, if needed.


DESIGN^taste | Consider your self-care. This strategy to hydrating ignites focus + achieves body needs to be at leadership level.


DESIGN^sensory craver | Built environment consideration for those with an insatiable drive for enhanced sensory experiences.
Burns, Jim, MOT, OTR/L, CHT, Defining Reality, The importance of Articulating a Leadership Philosophy, OT Practice November 12, 2012, pp 19, 20.
From Molecules to Minds,Challenges for the 21st Century,Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2008.