A Powerful Context for Leadership Development

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Much of the contemporary leadership development literature is framed in dichotomies: Either, you are an effective leader; or you’re not. Either, you’re skilled at something, or you’re not. … There’s very little room for gradations. As such, we relate to ourselves in very stark terms, when in fact, as human beings, our lives are anything but black and white.

It’s not that I am not the kind of leader that I aspire to be. Rather, the potential for leadership is continually unfolding and finding expression through me. I am already the leader that I wish to be, and it is a matter of degree to which where I am right now aligns with that aspiration.

What would it be like if let go of “being the way we want” or “not being the way we want” and gave ourselves permission to own where we are right now in our journey of evolution? What difference would it make for us to relax our high standards and to simply acknowledge where we are in this moment?

On Letting Go to Freedom

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American history might leave many of us with the idea that Freedom is something that one has to earn and acquire. On one side, there are those that believe that sinking billions of dollars into national defense is a solution to “holding onto hard-fought” freedoms; on the other side, there are those who rightfully advocate for freedom through the elimination of institutionalized oppression.

And yet, the Founding Fathers’ perspective on Freedom is what made them so revolutionary. Freedom is self-evident. It is a right endowed to us by virtue of walking on this earth.

When we fight for Freedom, it is not to get something we didn’t have, but rather to restore something that has always been ours.

Freedom, therefore, starts with us. Of what do we need to let go … What do we need to surrender in order for us to restore our Freedom?

 

A Quick Way to Return to Center

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When I first started meditating, I had this misconception that I could achieve a certain level of centeredness, and that once achieved, that level of centeredness would just stick.

The reality is that every moment we are drifting, which means that every moment is an opportunity to return to center.

And yet, our minds do a very good job of keeping us distracted with the constant stream of thoughts and emotions.

A quick way to return to center is to reconnect with our body. The body is an anchor that never leaves us so long as we are living and breathing. All we need to do is note our bodily sensations. No need to chase after and interpret thoughts. No need to judge emotions. All we need do is just observe what is happening in our bodies.

It is being with the present-moment reality of our bodies that we bring ourselves back.

On Finding the Right Time

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The three most vicious lies we tell ourselves are “could’ve,” “should’ve” and “would’ve.” These three lies presuppose that there is a time – other than now – which is better than the one we’re experiencing.

Lately, this has been showing up in how I keep telling myself that “when I get done with such and such…” or “when I get through this and that…” then things will be better. … Then, I will be able to relax.

Another version of this is “when I get past this and that…” then I will be a better version of myself.

The thing is that, nine times out of ten, once I get through this and that, there’s almost guaranteed to be something else.

How often we do expend time and energy waiting for “the right time”?

There is no perfect time other than the present moment. No perfect time other than the one we are experiencing. No perfect time other than now to experience the fullness of joy and happiness in our lives.

On Developing an Abundance Mindset

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One of the most deplorable byproducts of the an industrial-turned-capital driven economy is scarcity: The economic system as it is currently structured creates an inequality, one in which both the “haves” and “have nots” buy into the misbelief that there is not enough to go around.

And yet, in an abundant, whole (i.e. intact) Universe, “I don’t have enough” is just not real. It is a matter of expanding our mindset to be able to see that reality. It’s like technology giving us the ability to see infrared and ultraviolet waves. It is about going from the story of scarcity to “Life provides just enough of what I need.”

Developing an abundance mindset begins with putting our faith in an efficient, self-organizing and efficient Universe. Our Universe is not wasteful and provides exactly what is required for our evolution and full self-expression.

On Developing a Can-Do Attitude

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Typically, when one says that we should have a “can-do” attitude, s/he is talking about a mindset oriented towards possibilities. It is an optimism that one can do whatever s/he sets their mind to.

The shadow side of this mindset is that we run the risk of burnout: If we go beyond healthy optimism and are no longer grounded in reality, then we think we can do more than we actually can. We may take on too much.

A healthy can-do attitude honors limitations. It realistically establishes the place from where we are starting in order to get a sense of how far we can go, AND it has us saying that, at the end of the day, we can only do what we can do.

On One of the Most Sacred Tasks of the Leader

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Leadership occurs in a cultural context. Even if a leader is the most dynamic and inspiring person an organization has known, s/he is only as effective as the norms and values of that community or organization will permit. This flies in the face of the myth of the “lone leader,” the person who, through sheer force of will, can compel the organization to march in a certain direction.

Because leadership occurs in the context of a group’s culture, one of the most profound ways in which the leader can serve the group is to help to facilitate healing. No group of people is immune from the individual hurts and traumas in the group. No group of people is exempt from the history that has left the group where it now is.

In this way, the leader is the chief healer. S/he has an opportunity to bring compassion to life within the community. S/he can devote energy to the question:

How might I help bring Wholeness back into this group?

Leadership can become an act of profound collective healing, one that eliminates the things that have held an organization back.