This morning I was browsing the internet a bit, trying to avoid the task I needed to do (prepare for tomorrow’s teaching), and looking for some leadership inspiration. What I found were a lot of typical leadership blogs that really didn’t appeal to me very much. Many of them are based on old paradigms of what leadership is – the top down, masculine model of a heroic, charismatic, strategic, high-performance, competitive individual who runs the show from a hierarchical position and “never lets you see him sweat”.
That’s not the kind of leadership I’m interested in, and so I rarely read those blogs. I’m much more interested in exploring what it means for the leader to serve as host, artist, question-asker, chaos-embracer, doodler, meditator, and storycatcher.
After blog surfing, I asked myself, once again, whether or not it’s really a leadership blog I want to write. If I don’t fit in with those other blogs, and if I like to write about taking contemplative photo walks, embracing your inner child, and what brings me joy, am I really putting something forward that is of value to leaders and potential leaders? Wouldn’t I be better off simply writing a “how to live a good life” blog?
In the end, though, I kept coming back to this… if I want to contribute to a shift in paradigms, if I want people to imagine themselves as leaders even if they’ll never have those hierarchical positions, if I want to help people take personal responsibility for the state of the world instead of assuming it’s someone else’s problem, if I want us to imagine what the world would be like if more feminine wisdom (and more right-brained thinking) were at play in our decision-making process, then this IS about leadership.
Leadership is about living with integrity and letting our lifestyles be our messages.
Leadership is about recognizing when it’s time to just sit with your mother in the hospital room, rather than rushing off to get another thing done.
Leadership is about wandering through nature and honouring every beautiful thing you see.
Leadership is about knowing when it’s time to take the road less traveled.
Leadership is about spending time at the beach with your kids and knowing that rest and rejuvenation are as important as any meeting you might attend.
Leadership is about slowing down to appreciate and honour this earth instead of forever sacrificing beauty for the cause of efficiency.
Leadership is about inviting people into circles for deep and authentic conversations.
Leadership is about taking an art break and considering what is trying to emerge in your right brain that your left brain hasn’t been able to articulate.
Leadership is about staring at trees and knowing that they are our wise teachers.
Leadership is about inviting the right questions into the room.
Leadership is about recognizing that transformation takes time and cannot be fit into models or rushed through strategic action plans.
Leadership is about being willing to be an edge-walker even when it looks more safe at the centre.
Leadership is about looking deeply into a person’s eyes and letting them know they are seen.
Leadership is about moving, dancing, singing, and laughing.
Leadership is about living well, serving well, and loving well.
Leadership is about recognizing that the world needs your gifts and then taking responsibility to share them.
Leadership is about being truthful even when you’re surrounded by deception.
Leadership is about having the courage to step outside of society’s norms when the systems we’ve created just aren’t working any more.
We are ALL leaders, whether we recognize it or not.
We are ALL responsible for influencing other people, living authentic lives, bringing more beauty into the world, spreading compassion, honouring the earth, and serving the cause of justice.
This blog is about inviting people to take responsibility for these things, while at the same time recognizing that we’ll all make mistakes along the way. It’s about breathing deeply through the fear and stepping forward anyway. It’s about knowing when it’s OUR turn to be light-bearers, change-makers, story-catchers, question-askers, and justice-seekers.
It’s about offering you support, encouragement, ideas, and forgiveness as you step forward into the role you are called to fill.
Go ahead. Call yourself a leader. And when you need strength for the journey, come sit in my circle for awhile.
For more on shifting paradigms of leadership, check out How to Lead with your Paint Clothes on.