After writing the blog for the L.M. Montgomery Institute web site, I was asked how Power Notes is a story that includes Montgomery (since she has always been so important to my reading). Here is my response:
Let me emphasize that Power Notes is written to be read as a story. It is not a handbook nor does it offer formulas for making decisions. Instead, it creates a series of scenes that together tell a story about leadership and specifically about the first woman president’s challenges on a small campus in Canada’s smallest province. Prince Edward Island is a place of paradox and metaphor – themselves the basis for the success of Lao Tzu’s ancient Chinese philosophy. By analogy, PEI is every place that is beleaguered and marginalized.
Part of the appeal of Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery’s most famous novel set on Prince Edward Island, is this very smallness of place and its passionately described particularities. Anne’s Island seems containable, embraceable, a metaphoric home-for-everyone. Similarly, the Island university I describe is every place of work and engagement: the everyday kinds of scenes I describe as the sites for power are situations that – by analogy – I hope will speak to a broad audience. Lao Tzu urges readers to think about power as energy in constant motion, ready to be recognized and channeled.
Everyone who makes decisions of any magnitude is attempting to channel energy. Consciousness of energy and its patterns can help people to predict large and small currents of action and reaction. It seems perfectly appropriate to me that a small university in Canada’s smallest province is a place where readers can see energy and decisions exactly as they operate. And I think women may be especially interested in the notion of looking for the sweet spot between contending forces rather than thinking of positions of acknowledged power and authority as battles they do not want to have to join or fight.
We understand through metaphor and analogy; we grow by expanding what we recognize and adapt.
I describe ten situations where I had to read energy – not always successfully – and offer them as patterns for other people’s similar decisions.
What is unusual about this book: it also reproduces, exactly as they were delivered, four speeches I gave during my presidency. I was trying to show how metaphor and analogy work in the stories we try to persuade others to accept.