It is barely possible to read the day’s news without being touched by a description of a global or regional issue reaching near-critical tipping points. Some of these issues speak to human suffering in our own backyards, and some remind us, if we are attentive, that suffering halfway around the world still affects our own backyards. It seems there is a lack of leadership and innovation to meet these growing concerns. Or is there?
In the 20 plus years that I have had the great privilege of working with leaders in a wide variety of business, government and non-profit organizations, I have often been struck by how hard they work, how dedicated they are to doing the best they can and how big their hearts are, even when they hesitate to feel them for themselves.
And it is also true that there has been a never-ending drumbeat to do more with less, to react in time measured in internet seconds and to compete in an ever-growing and complex global marketplace.
So, what can happen is that these pressures put leaders in a survival mode. All their energy is needed to just “get through the day” and there is rarely time to get off the “treadmill” and actually see what is going on. If leaders actually trained their bodies and minds to become more attentive, more awake, might we more consistently find the solutions that are good for the organization and good for the community? Are leaders an underleveraged resource for changing the serious and growing issues? They have extraordinary training and often possess a wide variety of analytical and problem-solving skills, and they already have positions of influence in society. Can we, as leaders begin to learn how to meet our days differently, in small but important ways, and thereby begin to break the auto-pilot reactivity in favor of a bit more clarity?
What if, just now, you STOPPED for a few moments? Can you simply feel our feet on the floor, perhaps noticing that you can be sitting and know that you are sitting? Are you noticing that your body is tired, awake, sore, hungry, without sensation? Can you begin to explore how noticing the changing sensations, moment to moment, in your own body is the beginning of learning to see things a bit more clearly?
Knowing ourselves is the first responsibility of leadership. It all starts with stopping….