The Leader Who Is Hardly Known: Self-less Teaching From the Chinese Tradition

ISBN: 978-1-885473-51-6
SIZE: 6 x 9
PRICE $29.95

“A commentary on the many commonalities and the occasional differences between Tao philosophy and experiential education theory and practice.”

The Leader Who is Hardly Known is a series of essays, each beginning with a brief story focusing on the experiences and lessons of a teacher called “the Leader Who is Hardly Known.”  The stories are followed by Taoist quotes and the author’s thoughts relating to the story.  Taoist philosophy can have deep meaning for experiential educators because of the focus on natural spontaneity and unself-conscious learning and teaching.

Written in an order that emphasizes personality traits that affect leadership, commonalities to experiential education programs, then the necessity of connection to the natural world, the essays contained are intentionally short and can stand alone for reference and guidance.  The conclusion summarizes how the principles contained form a foundational philosophy for experiential education.


“The Leader who is hardly known, by Steven Simpson is a welcome addition to the field of experiential education. Dr. Simpson does an excellent job of thoughtfully considering many of the most vexing problems and opportunities facing leaders and teachers such as humility, intentionality, and how one relates with nature. In a style that is both deep and intellectual reminiscent of Ken Wilber, (A Brief History of Everything) and also profoundly simple like Robert Fulgham, (All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten), Simpson causes the reader to think about beliefs and practices. This is a brilliant piece of writing. I highly recommend this book and I intend to send a copy as a gift to many of my friends.”
Dan Garvey, President, Prescott College

“The Leader Who is Hardly Known is a wonderfully crafted book that deepens, strengthens and opens one’s mind in leading others with conviction and soul. As an educator, I see myself as a person assisting students to gain skills, insight and knowledge. My hope is to bring out the potential in each one, not based on what I think, but rather by allowing the students to realize their own inherent potential. This book reawakened my passion and commitment as an experiential educator to purposefully lead others without my ego getting in the way!”
Anya McDavitt, Program Manager, Youth Educational Services, Humboldt State University

“When I began reading The Leader Who is Hardly Known, I expected it to be well written because of the reputation of the author; however, I did not realize that I was about to encounter a book full of wisdom that reaches far beyond leadership and teaching from Chinese traditions. Professor Simpson has said things in this book that wish I had written myself. There are lessons to be learned here for every teacher, whether or not they are interested in Chinese traditions. I highly recommend this book for any teacher with a reflective orientation.”
Jasper S. Hunt, Director, University Honors Program, Professor, Leadership Studies and Experiential Education, Minnesota State University

“What an enjoyable read—both personally and professionally. Steve does an excellent job of synthesizing the tenets of Tao philosophy and experiential education. The Leader Who is Hardly Known presents a model of leadership that reframes the context of power and influence in leadership and does it in a way that fosters experiential education, the learner, and the leader. This book is a great resource for experiential educators and educators as a whole.”
Jacquie Medina, M.A., Doctoral Candidate, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies, University of Northern Colorado

Excerpt from the Book

Table of Contents

Section One: A Good Start
Chapter 1: The Arrogant Monkey/Humility in a Leader
Chapter 2: The Obsessed Rock Climber/Tolerance
Chapter 3: The Foxes of Isle Royale/Wu-Wei
Chapter 4: The Golden Carp/Good Enough is Good Enough
Chapter 5: The Runaway Horse/Calm Steadiness
Section Two: Teaching Tips
Chapter 6: The Boy Who Stepped on a Bee/ The Aftermath of Challenge
Chapter 7: Tao on a Tee Shirt /The Yin and the Yang
Chapter 8: The Evacuation/Both a Leader and Manager
Chapter 9: Birdwatching at Fifty/Teach When the Time is Right
Section Three: The Role of Nature
Chapter 10: The Inventor’s Mantle Clock/ In Nature We See Ourselves
Chapter 11: The Interrupted Stargazers/How to See Nature
Chapter 12: The Owl and the Lady’s Slipper/Nature’s Lessons
Section Four: Conclusion
Chapter 13: A Town Like Any Other/Toward a Tao Leadership
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