Voice of the Leader Within
Hear the Middle Melody
Fortunate I am, and a blessed place to be on this interior journey, as I continue to learn how to firmly, openly know this middle space.
The exterior part of all experience has equally been a series of blessings. For so long I wondered why the rub against judgment was placed in me, in my spirit. Now, I feel I know why in my soul. It is because my calling needed a beginning, something on which to build a journey. I suppose it’s like the grain of sand inside the shell.
For this grain I am thankful, for it has played a part in a pearl of great price. On “price,” and such pearl, I have to wonder if the great part of price refers more to the cost along the journey than simply the generic value of a pearl.
Mayra’s story begins with a point of suffering on the inside–the illness of a child. I am certain you agree that we don’t need all the details to imagine, or feel, the sorrow of such a reality.
As a child, Mayra knew what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to teach peace. Peace is what she now teaches, in literally everything she does. It is how she does so that is the impetus for this piece.
The Messy Middle
Mayra is a very contemplative person. She is deeply moved by things, by experience. In each experience, she listens deeply to both intuition and to feeling. Everything she does and sees has meaning to her. This includes even the smallest of activities where many of us so often find our minds wandering to the next thing on the list.
Mayra’s challenge to us as leaders is to try to do everything from a place of love – not a place of obligation (moving our attention from “in order to” to “for the sake of” as Allen Huff’s dad taught). Her entreaty is to only do things out of love: while the outcomes may look the same as those done from obligation, the intentions are totally different. To not act from this place of love can be degrading, to self, to others.
While one may be “obligated” to do something, it behooves one to learn how to do it out of love. How does Mayra remain in such presence, and act in such grace? She said to me, “I’m inspired every single day. Challenges in my life have only brought me closer to who I am, to my humanity.” In limited human terms, she could find every excuse to hide under a blanket of self-pity. Instead, she released the leader within, the leader born in her Trueness.
Failure is not the opposite of success; it is just on the other side of the seesaw that is the reality of life & living, and of being a leader. There is peace in the middle melody –the middle stand as a leader. Only at this fulcrum of the middle do we truly release the leader within. Mayra calls this level of awareness the messiness of the middle.
In this beautiful, middle space, the external and the internal become one, the inner life and outer life are one. This is the point of the middle melody, if we only listen.
Voice and Tension
Mayra’s voice is Respect (Civility). From this voice, she talked to me about how the work of a leader is the work of protecting humanity and the environment in which we find ourselves working together. We need each other. Although we may do individual work in our separate spaces, we are all connected. It is all about you and not about you at the same time. Welcome to the creative tension of the middle.
As she had described herself to me as a contemplative person, I asked Mayra to give me a visual of what it looks like to be a contemplative leader. Here is what she said:
A contemplative leader is present. You are aware of not only what is happening in the environment, with the people involved, but also very aware of what is happening with you. We are very complex beings.
Further, she said that if we operate only from our minds, and our ego, we do damage to those we supposedly lead, and to self. To avoid such individual and collective damage, Mayra implores us to “Stand in the freaking tension that hurts like hell!” I know that Mayra has learned to do this! From within, she leads. From within, she feels with us, hears in the present experience, and sees the impact–a rhythm made possible by trusting the unfolding.
We Lead Who We Are.
Parker J. Palmer, an impassioned teacher, believes that we teach who we are. In studying his book, The Courage to Teach, I found myself replacing teach with coach, and eventually with lead.
Coaching hundreds of individual leaders brought me to the conviction that we indeed most effectively (and affectively) lead from the ground of who we are. Imagine the discoveries we could experience if we consciously navigated with the sextant of who we are at the helm – our Trueness.
Working one-on-one with leaders–building individual confidence–has taught me many things. These many individuals, through the generosity of trust, opened me to what I’ve been teaching, and so passionately desire to continue teaching, Rhythm.
Like Mayra, I’m still finding a more abundant answer in how to continue teaching from the powerful calling of voice. She and I are learning to continually trust the unfolding. The essence of such trust can only flow because of voice–a courageous, conscious application of Trueness in each circumstance.
A Leadership Poem: Peace Betwixt