Excerpt from Incandescent Leadership (ISBN 978-1-300-65928-0, 80 pages, $12.99)
Artwork by fabulous Fruition Coalition intern, Samantha Dillon
So grateful to Scott Erb for sharing this…
Today I came across this quote from Sophie Scholl, a woman I greatly admire for being part of the White Rose resistance to Hitler in WWII, executed in 1943 at the age of 21. Especially with all the craziness in the world today, and all the mundane distractions in life, I think this is a very powerful, meaningful and profound quote.
Please read this. Think about it. Live it!
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature. Those…
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This one is a major toughie for me. I am scandalously impatient. I want to achieve my goals and I want to achieve them now! But by failing to practice patience, I am shortchanging myself, other people, and the potentially beautiful results of allowing things to unfold without my incessant prodding and interference.
Waiting is not a punishment; it is actually an opportunity to reflect, meditate, pray, and realize the many intricacies and delicacies of the natural process of life. Lingering fulfillment of goals builds a sense of anticipation that arouses joy and excitement. When those goals are finally achieved, a greater appreciation for the results will ensue. This may be difficult to realize during the time you are waiting, but in retrospect we nearly always know that what we have created was worth the wait.
Great things must be done with great care. When we hurry or rush the process, we risk being sloppy and counterproductive. Experiences that are carefully cultivated with tenderlovingcare hold greater meaning and value than those that are expedited to save time or money.
Sustainable change takes time. Think in terms of long-term results rather than short term indulgences. Meaningful relationships, sufficient resources, and efficient and effective processes are highly complex phenomena that, when lovingly developed and nurtured, will lead you toward fulfillment of your vision.
While it is helpful to continually reflect upon your vision and its meaning, both to you and to the world, it is equally important that we remain centered in the present moment. When we place too much emphasis on the past or the future, we miss out on the present or, as some people refer to it, “the gift.” Right now, you are alive and alight with the brilliance of your existence; each breath is an affirmation that this very moment is only time we truly have to enjoy.
In addition to neglecting patience in terms of time, we sometimes lose patience with ourselves and other people. When people fail to meet our expectations, it is easy to react with interrogation and condescension. Remember that time is available to you to reflect before responding. While time is a precious resource that few of us have to spare, using it in this way will improve your ability to respond with compassion in the future. It will also build trust and understanding, preventing the current situation from escalating. Consider it a wise investment.
Imagine yourself running down the street naked. Not a pretty thought? Don’t worry, I’m not about to suggest you do something as extreme as that. There are more advantageous, and appropriate, means of exposing your vulnerability to others. This may include asking for help, admitting a mistake, or accepting failure.
When I was younger, I felt it was important to demonstrate my competence in order to build others’ confidence in my ability to do a good job. This shortsighted behavior resulted in all sorts of problems including important files being thrown away and oversights on reports. Pretending to know everything was not only dishonest, it prevented me from learning and developing truly supportive relationships with my supervisors. I probably also looked foolish because nobody, not even the most intelligent people in the world, really know everything. That is an unrealistic expectation and an invitation for isolation and eventual self-destruction.
Now that I am in a position of leadership, I openly admit gaps in knowledge and mistakes that I have made to my coworkers, board of directors, and colleagues. I also strive to create a safe environment for others to do the same. I see my work team as a collaborative group that shares its intellectual resources both to expand each person’s working knowledge and to complement each other’s work. Keeping an open flow of information, resources, and support helps everyone both individually and collectively.
I am sometimes tempted to share personal information about myself in professional settings in order to build stronger relationships. Exposing vulnerability in this way can sometimes backfire. It can be difficult to determine the most appropriate place to draw the line, and this varies from individual to individual. Trust your instincts and freely share stories and information about yourself to the extent that you feel comfortable and safe. Measure what you have to gain against what you have to loose and make an active choice about what to share with whom.
Our ability to expose our vulnerability is derived from our character, sincerity, sense of humor, confidence, and courage. When our core is strong, we remain unwavered when the gentle breezes of exposure roll by. In fact, these experiences nourish our souls and help us grow.
As leaders, we are expected to stand out – not because we’re perfect, but because we are willing to take risks. Be willing to try new things even when there is a possibility of messing it up. Take a leap of faith in yourself, and have a little fun. If you are consistently genuine, your team will be sure to catch you before you fall.
I am exceptionally excited to attend my first International Leadership Association (ILA) conference in Denver, CO next month. Not only will I have the opportunity to meet and learn from amazing scholars from all around the world, I am also going to participate in a panel discussion, present a poster, and facilitate a roundtable discussion.
For the panel discussion, I will be joining scholars from Virginia Tech, Nova Southeastern University, Murray State University, and Our Lady of the Lake University to explore appreciative inquiry. I will be discussing how to integrate an appreciative inquiry approach with Alinsky organizing principles for progressive social change work.
The poster will present the results of a preliminary study I conducted earlier this year. Using postcritical existential phenomenology, I explored how people experience a sense of liberation through social justice work.
In the roundtable discussion, we will uncover implicit meaning and expressions of power in everyday social justice leadership discourse. If this interests you, make sure you check out our Generative Language course next June.
I hope to see you in Denver!
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