52 Books - Book 24
All leadership begins with an individual deciding to take action. Sometimes the person is put into a position of leadership and other times they choose to lead without positional authority. Whenever a person takes positive action other people notice and some will follow. It is a circular process, never ending if the next stage is explored. One way to describe this circular process is using the words see, start, and stretch.
In reality, the process it is more like a spiral, an upward, unfolding spiral. If it becomes like a circle or a downward spiral, then it is time to pause.
Pausing is what author Dawna Markova did in writing I Will Not Die an Unlived Life. It all started with a poem that came to her at the death of her father. The poem reached out across the continents and spoke to others in various formats. The book came later when she retreated to the mountains in Utah. Here is a quote that resonated with me. It is what I experience in my own life and what I see when working with others:
When we find ourselves devoid of passion and purpose, the first thing we need to do is stop. But that is not easy. The rest of the world is zooming by at full speed. Left alone with ourselves, without a project to occupy us, we can become nervous and self-critical about what we should be doing and feeling. This can be so uncomfortable that we look for any distraction rather than allowing ourselves the space to be as we are.
If you have experienced this kind of discomfort and quickly returned to the familiar of your daily routine, I invite you to consider allowing yourself to stay lost for awhile. Markova explains more:
Traveling from the known to the unknown requires crossing an abyss of emptiness. We first experience disorientation and confusion. Then if we are willing to cross the abyss in curious and playful wonder, we enter an expansive and untamed country that has its own rhythm. Time melts and thoughts become stories, music, poems, images, ideas. This is the intelligence of the heart, but by that I don’t mean just the seat of our emotions. I mean a vast range of receptive and connective abilities, intuition, innovation, wisdom, creativity, and sensitivity, the aesthetic, qualitative and meaning making. It is here that we uncover our passion and purpose.
Today, I am giving you an assignment. If you, yes you, really want to uncover your passion and purpose, then your next action is contemplative non-action. Start by adding a big comma to your life. Stop, reflect, slow down, read a poem, write a poem, connect with nature.
I hear your thoughts. You are saying, me read a poem? I don’t read poetry. That is ok, read it anyway. David Whyte or other poets are waiting for you to get lost in the words that come to your screen.
Now that you have tapped into the “intelligence of your heart”, walk outside, notice the temperature but embrace it, accept it as it is rather than fight against it. Find a tree or a leaf or a blade of grass and describe it. You are doing well. Now grab a piece of paper and describe it again and play with the words, mix them up.
What happened? What did you feel? Who are you now that you have paused? Tweet me your poem or put in the comments below.
Every week during 2014 I look forward to sharing books that I am reading. The lens of the leadership process will be the filter for which I recommend books. Books are powerful vehicles for providing us with inspiration and new ideas.