John Kotter’s classic, Leading Change, makes a powerful distinction between management and leadership. Kotter says that management is focused on the effective maintenance of the status quo, i.e. they keep things going. In contrast, leadership is about a vision for the future; it is about moving things in a new direction.
Every organization needs both types: competent managers and effective leaders. Most human resource programs focus on management programs. Many confuse leadership development with management programs.
How are we building leader-ful organizations?
How are we ensuring that we can sustain organizations and keep them adaptive enough to a rapidly changing world?
I was speaking recently with one of the teen interns who is one of my proteges as part of a mentorship program at work. I shared with her an idea about authentic leadership that has really helped me to think differently about my leadership:
“When I was your age, I used to think that leadership is a destination at which I might someday I arrive. Now, I think about leadership as the journey of unfolding the leader that is already within me, waiting to be unlocked.”
What if we started from that place? What if our leadership is more like the statue of David and our job, like Michelangelo’s, is to carve and hew the stone to bring David out?
What if we began from the assumption that leadership is not something that is developed but rather something that unfolds?
Today, I dragged myself to the “Heart of Recovery” Buddhist 12-Step group at the Berkeley Shambhala Center. I was resisting going, but with the encouragement of Jon, I just committed to showing up. I am glad that I went because I had a profound realization: I’ve been so focused on resisting and controlling my addiction that no energy was being devoted to my recovery. It was like I was in limbo in my war with myself.
In a text called Cool Water, by William Alexander, he talks about recovery as being a gift that is revealed to you. This made me think of all the ways I have expended energy on curbing my addiction rather than focusing that energy where it counts most: on my Self. I realized that recovery isn’t just about stopping an addiction. It’s about recovery of Self. It is about experiencing the same aliveness, clarity and vibrance inside of myself that I am beginning to experience without the haze of addiction.
All of a sudden, being in recovery wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it suddenly became a good lifelong process for recovering and awakening my Self. …
“When you can stay in your center, it not only benefits you; it benefits the entire world.”
Sage words from Travis Eliot, an amazing yoga teacher in L.A. The journey of personal growth and development can become so focused on the inner experience that we often screen out the world outside. We forget that when we change, the world us must also change, because we are no longer the same person. People will relate to us differently. We will experience the world differently.
Staying centered is a gift to us all. For when we can be at peace, the entire world can be at peace.
So I have a new affirmation posted around my apartment. As I was looking up at the one on the bathroom mirror, I thought to myself, “It’s not working.” Then, I heard myself say, “What does it working actually mean?” And it dawned on me: If the statement on my bathroom mirror were already a reality, it wouldn’t be an affirmation. It would simply be “what is.”
The power of an affirmation isn’t in whether or not it’s true. Its power comes from who we become when we take on changing our lives in pursuit of making the affirmation true. Its power comes from the ways we stretch and grow in order to have that affirmation be real.
I was thinking recently about a reminder that my therapist gave me about how some of the issues with which I am working may never really go away. My initial reaction was one of frustration: When am I ever going to get to the place where I feel like I can engage Life without a therapist? As soon as I asked that question, though, I heard the voice within fire back, “Where exactly do you think you need to be?”
My response back was this: The only place I need to get to is the present moment. I need to get to the here and now, because that is the only place I can ever truly be at any time.