To My Work in the World
An inspired perspective.
That, to me, is leadership.
It is a perspective that helps an individual or a company make the most life-affirming choices possible in a given situation––from establishing a vision, creating an identity, strengthening a sales force, introducing a product, addressing sexual harassment, becoming exceptional problem solvers, recruiting people with large minds and hearts...to something as seemingly commonplace as orchestrating the company picnic.
At ground level, leadership helps us answer those two most important questions:
What’s going on,
and what’s the healthiest action
I can take in this moment?
That’s the number one characteristic of leadership. Number two is that anyone can provide it. And not only can, but does. Just about all of us have contributed leadership at one time or another: to friends, teammates, loved ones, colleagues, even strangers. Key to a healthy organization is the extent to which leadership thrives––more and better all the time.
Leadership is eminently practical.
A ten year-old patiently showing a five year-old who is struggling to cut a sandwich the value and technique of using the sharp edge of the knife is leadership. Then there are those people and events that awaken in us the transforming awareness that, metaphorically, all of life is the never-ending practice of learning to use the sharp edge of the knife with loving kindness.
One concrete example of this metaphor is developing the presence to ask questions that slice, if you will, to the core of a circumstance:
- What is essential here? What can we not live without?
- What are we trying to accomplish that goes beyond or transcends the demands of the moment?
- What specific problem are we trying to solve here and now?
- How would we know a healthy solution if we saw one?
- What one action will have the biggest positive impact?
Our perspective matures as we become more adept at applying these questions. As it does as we grow with managing fear, learning from our experience, aligning our commitments with action, and aligning our actions with commitments.
Leadership is also storytelling.
And the most meaningful story we tell is the one that comes from our heart as we share what we are learning from the practice of being human—the practice of paying attention to the choices we make and their impact on ourselves and others.
And when one finds a story useful, and is helped by it to respond well to something, then leadership is taking place. In the healthiest of communities, every member is counted on to provide such leadership whenever they possibly can.
One indispensable role of a leader
is to facilitate this kind of perspective...
Starting by being a role model––more and better all the time
My work in the world is helping such people so that they, and the organizations they serve, continually grow the ability to respond in a positive way to whatever life presents––even heartbreak. Some of us consider this among the great adventures on earth. Its demands are considerable, its rewards indelible.
For the story this bear, a celebration of resilience, see Peace, Irene.