Second Innocence

Rediscovering Joy and Wonder

John Izzo (Author)

Publication date: 02/09/2004

Bestseller over 20,000+ copies sold

Second Innocence

"What might happen," John Izzo writes, "if we began to think of innocence as a quality we bring to our lives, a perspective and a way of looking at the world, which is not replaced by experience but which influences our experience? When we choose innocence as a frame to experience the world, the qualities of hope, idealism, openness, and faith nurture the experience of wonder and joy in our lives."

In the tradition of Robert Fulgham and Richard Carlson, Izzo uses his experiences as a son, husband, father, employee, minister, author and corporate speaker to inspire readers to see the world from this new, rejuvenating perspective. Chapters with titles like Full Speed Ahead In The Wrong Direction, Choose Your Glasses Carefully, Getting Past Your Expiration Date, The Burned-Out Buddha and The Power of Not Now explore how to reclaim our innocence in four realms --- daily life, faith, work, and relationships.

"It is not that experience should not shape our idealism", Izzo tells us. "In fact, our initial innocence must be shaped by our experiences. To hold on to our innocence is a life long process and it is our ability to foster the quality of innocence that continues to bring us to the edge of what is possible in our lives and in our communities. That we may choose innocence and idealism while incorporating the harder experiences of living is the core premise of this book."

Both practical and inspiring, Second Innocence combines wonderful stories with an inspiring philosophy to help us maintain our idealism and enthusiasm throughout our lives.

  • By the bestselling author of Awakening Corporate Soul (more than 60,000 copies sold)
  • Inspires readers to reclaim their idealism and find their sense of wonder again --- without surrendering their critical faculties
  • Full of witty and compelling real-life stories

Read more and meet author below

Read An Excerpt

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Overview

"What might happen," John Izzo writes, "if we began to think of innocence as a quality we bring to our lives, a perspective and a way of looking at the world, which is not replaced by experience but which influences our experience? When we choose innocence as a frame to experience the world, the qualities of hope, idealism, openness, and faith nurture the experience of wonder and joy in our lives."

In the tradition of Robert Fulgham and Richard Carlson, Izzo uses his experiences as a son, husband, father, employee, minister, author and corporate speaker to inspire readers to see the world from this new, rejuvenating perspective. Chapters with titles like Full Speed Ahead In The Wrong Direction, Choose Your Glasses Carefully, Getting Past Your Expiration Date, The Burned-Out Buddha and The Power of Not Now explore how to reclaim our innocence in four realms --- daily life, faith, work, and relationships.

"It is not that experience should not shape our idealism", Izzo tells us. "In fact, our initial innocence must be shaped by our experiences. To hold on to our innocence is a life long process and it is our ability to foster the quality of innocence that continues to bring us to the edge of what is possible in our lives and in our communities. That we may choose innocence and idealism while incorporating the harder experiences of living is the core premise of this book."

Both practical and inspiring, Second Innocence combines wonderful stories with an inspiring philosophy to help us maintain our idealism and enthusiasm throughout our lives.

  • By the bestselling author of Awakening Corporate Soul (more than 60,000 copies sold)
  • Inspires readers to reclaim their idealism and find their sense of wonder again --- without surrendering their critical faculties
  • Full of witty and compelling real-life stories

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - John Izzo

John Izzo is one of North America's most prominent voices on finding more purpose in life and work. He has devoted the past 25 years of his life and career to facilitating deeper conversations about values. work, life, leadership and success. He has worked with thousands of leaders, professionals and front-line colleagues to foster workplaces of excellence, purpose, learning and renewal. His clients have ranged from high tech to high touch, hotels to hospitals, and from government agencies to entrepreneurial start-ups. Drawing on his early work in ministry and thousands of programs on creating ""Spirited Workplaces,"" Izzo challenges people to strive to live their values, connect with each other and to humbly balance achievement with fulfillment.

Izzo is the author of several books, including the bestselling Awakening Corporate Soul, The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, and Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything.

He has served on the faculties of The University of California -San Diego, and Kent State University.

Visit the John Izzo and and Stepping Up for Change websites.

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Table of Contents



Preface: Why Innocence?

Chapter 1. Innocence --- By Percy Bysshe Shelley

Chapter 2. Why a Second Innocence?

Chapter 3. Rediscovering the Daily Journey

Chapter 4. Most of Life Is Rowing

Chapter 5. Full Speed Ahead In The Wrong Direction

Chapter 6. Reclaiming Awe and Wonder

Chapter 7. Falling in Love with Detours

Chapter 8. What Did You Love to Do as a Child?

Chapter 9. Reclaiming the Parts of Us from Which We Turned Away

Chapter 10. What Trees Can Teach Us

Chapter 11. It's a Great Life if You Don't Weaken

Chapter 12. Mr. Thom's Lesson: Courage

Chapter 13. My Kids' Favorite Subject

Chapter 14. Once You're Out of Bed, the Rest Is Easy

Chapter 15. Falling in Love with Work Again

Chapter 16. Your Job Is Bigger than You Think

Chapter 17. Choose Your Glasses Carefully

Chapter 18. Getting Past Your Expiration Date

Chapter 19. Bake a Cake for the Office Troublemaker

Chapter 20. The Innocent Leader

Chapter 21. Before I Die, I Must...

Chapter 22. Reclaiming the Journey of Faith

Chapter 23. My First Funeral

Chapter 24. The Antidote to Boredom

Chapter 25. Do You Believe in Miracles?

Chapter 26. The Burned-Out Buddha

Chapter 27. Sports and the Second Innocence

Chapter 28. Each of Us Is a Church of One

Chapter 29. Introduction --- Rediscovering Innocence in Relationships

Chapter 30. Second Innocence in Love

Chapter 31. The Power of Not Now-Presence & the Art of Love

Chapter 32. On the Road to Second Innocence

Chapter 33. The Principle of the Five Rows

Chapter 34. The Simplest Wisdom... Start!

Chapter 35. Older, Wiser, Still Learning

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Excerpt

Second Innocence

19

1

Most of Life
Is Rowing


My grandfather was a man who lived a rich life. A shipbuilder by trade, he was one of eleven children born in rural Nova Scotia. Although our family had been in Nova Scotia since 1746, my grandparents moved to New York in search of work during the Great Depression.

Grandfather was a quiet man, a deeply religious man, and, perhaps most of all, a person of significant character. Of all the people in my family, alive or dead, he lives on in mythology. Whether in stories of kneeling by his bed to pray before sleep or inviting homeless people home for dinner during the Great Depression (even though he was barely working himself), he is remembered as a good worker, a good father, and a caring human being. From him I gathered the simple phrase “good tired” to describe the experience of a day well spent.

Once when I was in high school, my grandfather invited me to go on a rowing trip with him. He loved the sea and told me that this particular evening promised a glorious sunset. “Would you be interested in going on a rowing trip with me to visit a tiny cove I’m sure you’ve not seen?” he inquired. Looking outside, wiping the sweat from my teenaged forehead, I suggested that 95 degrees was not the perfect time for a long rowing trip and said another time would be better. “Ah,” he said, “another time is for young men. Let’s do it now.”

20

With that clarity of perspective, off we went on what would turn out to be a nonstop row of more than an hour. Given that he was in his seventies and I a mere fifteen, the rowing naturally fell on my shoulders. All during our trip to that cove, he was chiding me to go faster else we miss the promised sunset. “Chop, chop,” he piped up. Sweating profusely, I diligently rowed until more than an hour had passed and we turned a corner beyond a tiny point of land and into the promised cove. Moments later, the sky burst into an orange-purple blaze. My grandfather was right, the cove and the sunset were both breathtaking. The scene is one I will never forget.

We were there, however, for no more than a couple of minutes when my grandfather said, “Well, let’s head back now.”

Incredulous, I protested. “Granddad, you were right, it is beautiful here. But look at me, I’m dying—let’s stay for a while.”

“No,” he said, “they’ll have made dinner for us and we’re already late. We ought to think of others, not just ourselves. Besides, we’ve seen it and this beautiful sunset will follow us home.”

Hands on the oars, I began the journey back. With each pull I renewed my complaining: “It was nice, but not worth all that rowing. . . . This boat is too old and needs new oars. . . . The current’s too strong today. . . . You’re the big shipbuilder—why don’t you take a turn rowing?” On and on I went. My grandfather merely sat quietly, enjoying the sunset.

Finally, after about thirty minutes he gazed at me and quietly said, “John, put the oars down, would you?”

With the oars in the boat he stared me in the face: “I want to tell you something today, something I very much hope you will remember. John, most of life is rowing and if you don’t learn to be good at—and enjoy—the rowing, you will grow up to be a very unhappy man. Now put your hands on the wood and take me home.”

21

I would love to tell you that the scales fell from my eyes in that moment and my life was lived differently from then until now. But that would not be true. At the time, those words seemed like the babblings of an old shipbuilder about to make his last sail. But thirty years have passed and I know now what he meant.

Life is mostly rowing. There are, of course, moments of ecstasy, but most of life is made up of simpler moments. A walk on the beach, a glancing view of a beautiful cornfield out an airplane window, the first time you see your child steal a base, a conversation where you know your words helped a friend, lying in a tent by a river with the few people you love most, the good feeling at the end of a hard day at work when you know your efforts were not in vain. It is precisely our ability to be present and enjoy those moments that makes life worth living. We can spend our entire lives trying to get from one big sunset to the next and miss a whole lot of great living in between. Sure those great sunsets are wonderful, but they are the icing, not the cake.

The big things do not determine our success in the many realms of our life. Marriages are not built on the big anniversary trip to Hawaii or the special gift that marks a date. It is in the rowing that marriages are made and broken, in the daily honoring of life together. Parents do not raise children well because of the camping trip taken once each year to provide “quality time.” Rather it is in the rowing moments, simple exchanges that occur thousands of times over the years that our children learn the lessons they will need to live a life uncommon. Leaders do not earn their stripes at the annual meeting when they give a rousing speech that inspires the masses, but in the daily way their rowing inspires a sense of pride and respect among those whom they lead.

22

But how do we begin to get better at the rowing and to appreciate the simpler pleasures it has to offer? How do we reclaim the innocence, faith, and wonder with which we were graced when we came into the world?

It seems to me that it begins with realizing that life is not about where we are going as much as it is about being where we are. How much of our lives are lived with the future as our focus—saving for retirement, waiting for the weekend, counting the days until vacation, looking forward to graduation, the next promotion. We seem destined to believe life will be better when we finally get there.

When we choose to believe that each moment, however simple, offers as much to us as the great shining moment of ecstasy, we begin to experience our lives in a different way. It is not that those moments of supreme satisfaction are unimportant; it is that most of life is spent rowing to and from the tiny cove and the rowing offers us just as much as the destination.

What part of the rowing must you pay more attention to? Are you enjoying the moments of your life fully or waiting for some future sunset when life will be what you desire it to be?


Enjoy the Journey


For thirty years since that rowing trip, as a minister, father, writer, husband, workshop leader, friend, and corporate advisor, I have tried to understand the lessons of that sunset. This book is a set of anecdotes, experiences, and reflections on how to rediscover the joy and wonder of life, the attempt of one person to reclaim the innocent faith and sense of purpose that gives life richness.

At this moment I find myself thinking back on my life, trying to recall the moments that stand out. To my surprise they are not my college graduation with honors, the speeches given before thousands of people, the day I held my first published book. Instead, I think of the cove with my grandfather, an afternoon nap in a tent with the wind gently blowing and cooling my face as my entire family slept beside me, a ride with my friend Steve in an old red canoe decades after my grandfather’s trip, the e-mail I got last week from a person saying that something I had written had touched him deeply, and that my father would be proud of me. The moments are almost all moments of “rowing,” simple pleasures that have come together to create a rich and meaningful life, a life of awe and wonder.

I have come to a place in my life where I have begun to experience what I call second innocence, a renewed sense of faith, hope, idealism, happiness, wonder, joy, and destiny. It is my hope that in sharing my journey of rowing, and the stories of those I have met along the way, your imagination will be captured and your life experienced with a fresh set of eyes.

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Endorsements



"This is a wonderful book of modern parables, stories that remind us of what it takes to live a life of hope and joy in an age of cynicism. It will rekindle your love of life and your desire to make the world a better place."

—Laurie Beth Jones, author of Jesus, CEO, The Path, and Teach Your Team to Fish

"John Izzo weaves together the key strands for living and working on purpose. His stories of the power of purpose shine through every page."

—Richard J. Leider, Founding Principal, The Inventure Group, bestselling author of Repacking Your Bags, Whistle While You Work, and The Power of Purpose

"John is a great storyteller. And he adds his usual wit, provocative questioning and self -revelation to this very special guide to living a more joyous life. If you are at mid-career or middle age and think the best is behind you, read this book immediately, underline its messages, dog-ear certain pages. Return to it again and again. It's a fountain of youth!"

—Beverly Kaye, CEO and Founder, Career Systems International, and coauthor of Love It, Don't Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What you Want at Work

"John Izzo walks his talk. In a time of so many self-help wannabes, he rings true and his book is an inspiring and provocative look at what life could be like if we recover a 'second innocence.' Read this book if you want to get beneath all the layers of "stuff" that now covers your true self and find out how to live full out, with faith and compassion--for yourself and those you touch."

—John J. Scherer, Creator of ReSurgence: Bringing Work to Life, Founder, Center for Work and the Human Spirit

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