On Leadership as Holding Space

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“The most important aspect of being a leader is holding the space for things to get done.” – Marianne Williamson

One of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn as a general manager is that my work is different from when I was responsible for a specific area of the operations of my organization. Whereas before it was my job to see that my operational area was being handled so that the organization is functioning effectively, as a general manager, my work is to support my senior executive team in doing their work effectively.

One does not have to wait until they are a general manager to explore how leadership is about holding space for others. This kind of leadership is bodhissatva leadership. The bodhissatva is someone who commits to rousing compassion in themselves to help alleviate the suffering in others. The bodhissatva leader is the one whose leadership sees and draws out the best in others in order for them to realize their potential to make a difference in this world.

Like the parent who stands back and allows a child to learn from their own risk-taking and mistakes, so too the bodhissatva leader wisely allows those they lead to step into their own power.

To hold space is to ask: How might I support you in discovering your own answer?

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The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary

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Last week, I began my reflection on the power of the holy rosary by exploring the Joyful Mysteries. This week, I want to take a look at the Sorrowful Mysteries.

On the surface, the Sorrowful Mysteries refer to the last hours of Jesus before his Crucifixion. And although this is true, this set of sacred mysteries is about much more. It teaches us about resilience and the power of faith. In his example, Jesus teaches us the power of profound acceptance, of acknowledging that there are certain things that every human being, including Christ, must experience, namely suffering and death. More importantly, he teaches us what it means to surrender, to realize that, in the face of suffering and death, the only thing over which we have control is how we greet those moments that try our humanity.

WHO are we in the face of suffering and death? How can we BE with the inevitable trials of life?

In a few weeks, I will be sharing my digital mini-course on “Tapping Into the Power of the Holy Rosary.” This digital audio and e-booklet package is intended to introduce you to the basics of the rosary and how you can begin to use it as a object for meditation. Stay tuned!

On Developing a Positive Relationship to Suffering

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It’s been a long while since I have written a blog post. I happen to be developing an e-course on “Living a Sacred, Fulfilling Life” and it seems that Life has been providing me with ample opportunities to move through my own curriculum.

One key idea in that curriculum with which I am being at this moment is transforming our relationship to suffering. As the Buddha realized, it is natural that, as human beings, we experience suffering because having that experience comes along with the grasping/desire-seeking parts of us that are hard-wired after millennia of human evolution. And as a means of coping, we have developed a resistance to the suffering caused by unfulfilled desires.

Even if the resistance automatically comes up, this does not mean that we do not have a choice as to how we react to that resistance and thus, to the suffering. We can begin to transform our relationship to our suffering such that it begins something positive from which we can learn.

So my mantra right now is: “May my suffering bring clarity and lead me back to my truth.”

On Bearing Witness to Our Own Suffering

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The past four days have been the most emotionally-exhausting and challenging I have experienced in a very long time. I have had to confront the pain and suffering my actions have caused others, especially my partner. And more importantly, I have had to dig deep to find that place of compassion and love for myself that is necessary to not have this turn into bitterness and self-fulfilling failure, but rather as the bold and powerful next step to finally dealing with my own self-destructive behavior.

I deal with an addiction that has, each day, robbed my spirit of its dignity and driven me to do things for which I am ashamed. It would be easy to punish myself, engaging in Catholic self-flagellation for my sins. … And I do. … Yet, there is also something to be said about allowing my heart to break open further to the world, to let in the ways in which all human beings do things that cause themselves and others suffering.

We are hard-wired to draw back from suffering, be it our own or others. It is something that our biology had developed over the years to protect us from physical danger, but which has since also numbed us to the day-to-day pain and hurt that go on in and around us.

To win back our dignity as human beings, … to have any hope of rising above those seemingly insurmountable challenges that rob us of our own light, … we must learn to bear witness to the suffering of ourselves and others.

Through the love and support of my partner, family and friends, I finally see a different place to begin to safely bear witness. That place is my commitment and intention to have the love for myself and others be greater than the addiction. Each time I am confronted, it is choosing the love for my self and others above those patterns of behavior that stand in my own way.

What Works

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Noah and I were talking last night about the intensity of this astrological period and the concomitant upheaval it has promised. Conjoinings and squarings of various heavenly bodies has resulted in breakdowns in multiple aspects of our lives. I asserted, as I have on this blog, that suffering is a function of our resistance to reality. We resist reality often times because we simply are not willing to admit that something is not working. It almost feels like it’s easier to stay stuck because we are at least familiar (if not, comfortable) with the crap in our lives.

Accepting that “This isn’t working for me” is an act of courage that brings us back to reality. And in accepting, we are able to clearly see what can work for us.

In Between

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I just saw something that stirred up new emotional anguish in me. I recognize that, from here on, my resistance to the realities of my own life have me causing my own suffering. As much as I’d like to blame and be angry at Aaron, I am responsible for my own suffering.

Yesterday, my friend asked me, “If Aaron were here, then would you still be together?” I answered without hesitation, “Yes!” Yet, the more I reflect on it, the less convinced that that is the case. I’m fearful that ours is an unrequited love, that he has moved on and I will never be able to be with another without having Aaron in the back of my mind.

Not fully being in one place and yet not knowing what lies ahead feels like being on a trapeze and in between swings. I’m afraid that I’m going to hit the ground. Yet, even now, I have faith. That is my net, and the One Love never fails to catch me.

Pain as Healing

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This morning, I read the following in Gary Zukav’s The Mind of the Soul: “To create authentic power you must use your painful experiences as they were meant to be used – to discover what you need to heal yourself.” (p. 124) As I said to Aaron in one of our last conversations, I don’t believe  in needless suffering. I believe that any suffering I have experienced through this transition is Life’s way of using emotions, like grief, sadness and anger, to help me learn what I need to learn from this experience and our relationship as a whole. These emotions help me to see where my life is operating contrary to my values and sense of Self.

Why am I angry? What does the anger tell me about what I really believe about this situation? Why am I sad? What does the sadness teach me about where I have yet to let go? … What a gift to be reminded that these emotions can be transmuted into energy that will help propel me to the next level of living for myself.