21st Century Skill Paradox – Part 3

Individual purpose and collective purpose can seem like opposites, and often working one against the other.

The leader’s personal purpose brings to light a confidence we who follow need to see. And we need to feel and hear how such confidence becomes our own. The 21st Century leader speaks from A New Confidence−a clear articulation rooted in purpose.

We can all appreciate the one who is practiced in the third skill of Messaging. When practiced and present, the messenger brings clarity in the moment. Such clarity becomes the foundation for engagement and the fuel for connection, combining to inform the future by our individual and collective choices in the present. Aimed at the collective, the engagingly clear message encourages individual purpose.

As a leader you must stand strong for us in the middle−in the creative tension of the space between what we need as individuals and what we need to pull and keep us together. This creative space exists only in the present.

Without getting into all the varying reasons, I think we can agree that change is a constant in this 21st Century. And while there are indeed many levels and types of change, any particular alteration can throw individuals in seemingly competing directions. From the same experienced change some begin a grieving process and others become excited to move forward. While we may react to change uniquely, we must soon come together in a proactive move through the change.

Skill 3Enter the 21st Century leader who leads us to connective clarity. This leader is not held back by a need to be understood that overwhelms the essentiality of understanding. Someone in a position of leadership who holds a selfish focus diminishes individual contribution−belittling efforts beyond their own capacity. But you, in A New Confidence, lead us with personal purpose, modeling for us in your message how individual purpose joins with and empowers collective purpose.

What a message eventually produces is not nearly as important, to those who need its clarity, as the creative space opened by the engaging view.

The clear message is basically Storytelling in its purest form. As it is told to us together, we each are engaged in seeing, hearing, and feeling it as our own.

Together we are transformed, driven by individual purpose and drawn into a collective vision.

For more on A New Confidence, see post:
Shadow Strengths – Chapter Three (A New Confidence)

BCL Blog 4

 

 

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Transformation and Hold & Release

 

I speak and write often about Story and The Flow to honor therein. Also in broken-record fashion I say …

It’s okay to love your work, and in your work, Love!

In this series of 7 posts, ending with this entry, I have focused on transformation (a movement into Trueness) and how certain points of consciousness can serve your leadership journey:

Transformation and Yes
The leadership life is about effortlessly holding ambiguity−the mystery in our own Trueness. The first holding must be for self; a commitment to your own growth and development.

Transformation and Authentic Tension
The purest communication and the deepest connection will naturally come to you as you live in that tense union created by the desire that drives you and the intent that draws you.

Transformation and Purpose (Vision)
When your messaging is clear, we are brought into the moment. We take the clearly expressed vision and begin to self-describe what it looks like to us as individuals; releasing creativity and building sustainable present action.

Transformation and Legacy
In your work, who are those who will remember you? It is those whose life and living were enhanced by the interaction. Networking is leaving a legacy one person at a time.

Transformation and Wonder
If  living in and through a transition is individual art, then it is so because of conscious design with wonder. To be with work you love−and in such work, love−is the energy for active giving in the world; flowing generosity from the best of who you are.

Transformation and Attention
To simply pay attention is to step into the accountability of artful presence; your hearing is focused. In caring enough to demonstrate such focus, we are drawn in by clarity and then out through individual engagement to co-facilitate connection.

And now …

Transformation and Hold & Release
As Trueness evolves into a living performance you are transformed. There is equanimity in the art of holding and in the necessity of releasing. Such powerful and personal transformation, and the subsequent building of leadership confidence, is precisely the energy we need from you−and with you.

As you hold us in the task of co-creation, you simultaneously release us into the larger story. You do this because you know you cannot build or tell this story alone. Storytellers love the listener through the well crafted and consciously told story.

And you, the 21st Century Leader, you love what you do−and in what you do, you love us! This moves us forward in the Story together.

BCL Blog 4

Transformation and Attention

Confident, flowing presence is the source energy for focus.

Ads for certain energy drinks spout tiring clichés in an effort to provide you with an answer to the focus they think you need. Such boiler plate bull is no help in the complexity we know in this 21st Century.

The focus needed in the whirl of this century is not what we might think; if we are fooled into believing what the hawkers of such hooey are slinging. It is a beautiful ability when one learns to simply pay attention.

Attention given to the moment−and to the other−frees your purpose as you focus through each success and above every failure. Such purposeful focus keeps us in the story with you.

I had a dream where I was employed at a firm where creativity was supposed to flow; but it was not in such abundance. Others began to look to me for inspiration in order to once again see creativity flow. As I was in the middle of my inspiring action, I awoke. Immediately I grabbed pen and paper and recorded the following;

Leaders look out beyond themselves …
Their power out there is in how they look out there …
They see out and beyond as they see thru themselves−they embrace who they are.
They see what is unfolding ahead of the union of the internal and the external.
To put it simply … They See!

As a 21st Century leader you have stepped into the accountability of artful presence. In such presence you share the power of a stand in the middle−a neutral stance facilitating each of us toward a collective energy. This collective energy is the story of us. Any story worth our collective attention pulls us into the present by the energetic flow of clarity to engagement to connection.

What does it mean to truly pay attention? In my own experiential joy in moments of presence, I find myself listening diligently−attending with an energy that allows me to even hear what is not said, to see beyond words.

“When we listen with our mind, we understand more of life. When we listen with our heart, we feel more of life. When we listen with our entire being and spirit, we are transformed and joined with life itself.”
Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

It is painfully impossible to listen with our entire being and spirit when we fail to be present. In this 21st Century, giving such attentive interest facilitates the collective energy needed to move us forward.

When you, as a leader, care enough to demonstrate such focus, we are drawn in by clarity and then out through individual engagement to co-facilitate connection.

BCL Blog 4

 

Release Love into Skill 7

What is your story of leadership? Is it a love story; a story unfolding in work you love and how you love in your work? Do not be afraid of making this so.

There is a narrative of meaning that is ever-present. We must learn to consciously embrace this narrative. This present narrative is there to assist you in understanding the what, why, and how of being you. … You are applying love in work you love. −Wading the Stream of Awareness (Love Chapter)

Love flows through you, but not until doing its work in you. Building a story with me is your love applied. I boldly write and speak about love in work because I have seen love produce more than all other tactics combined. From much study, it is my belief that any tactic researched was seen as effective because of who was studied−a loving leader.

The 21st Century belongs to the aware, focused, and loving leader. A sequential unfolding of why, what, and how is important in order to lead others in the flow of the collective story: Clarity to Engagement to Connection. Think on how dependent this flow is to the internal flow of a confident leader; an aware, focused, and loving individual.

We love purely when we release other people to be who they are. −Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love

As an aware leader, your inner clarity more easily translates externally for the clarity we need as we latch onto the collective story. As a focused leader, you confidently hold the tension between your desire and intent for us; this is engaging. And as a loving leader, you release each of us to authentically connect as we flow in the larger story that is our work together.

See sister post, Letting Go into Love

Release A New Confidence into Skill 3

In the post about Impact and Skill 1, I wrote about Leslie. She and I have in common the spiritual gift of encouragement. We have each learned how exercising our gift places us square in the present.

The 21st Century leader is modeling for us a new confidence; a presence that is both selfless and powerful. Focusing her leadership in the present … ensures that we put our attention to the right priorities; thus building fulfillment in our present work and assuring the rewards of tomorrow. −Wading the Stream of Awareness (A New Confidence Chapter)

Leslie’s acts of encouragement are in the moment and become an engaging message about tomorrow−about what ought to be. The clarity of a message is a gift−a connection point found only in the present as we gather in the clarity. When a leader is truly clear, a collective future vision begins to become more individually organized in the present.

No vision is collectively good until we individually engage and connect. And we cannot achieve any vision without holding its story in the balance of the present; together. As with Leslie, leadership challenges us to find a confident stance in that delicate, tight space of understanding. If I cannot stand there as a leader, how can I expect others to stand with me and hold the tension of our future.

Any story worth our collective attention pulls us into the present as it flows from clarity to engagement to connection. It is leaders like Leslie who understand the importance of consistent messaging to keep us on an unfolding path as we live the story.

See sister post, Letting Go into A New Confidence

Others and Your Purpose (A Personal Reflection on Pictures)

In 1563, Paolo Veronese painted The Wedding Feast at Cana. It depicts a famous Bible story in which Jesus performed a miracle at a wedding feast by turning water into wine. The painting is absolutely massive in scale. It measures 267 x 391 inches and is a brilliantly-painted late-Renaissance masterpiece. It is on display in the legendary Louvres in Paris.

The painting fills an entire wall. No other works sit beside it. The two walls flanking it contain paintings, but they might as well have been the watercolor finger paintings of a 5-year-old child. They pale in comparison to Veronese’s breathtaking picture. His painting is filled with color and light, ornate architecture and intricately detailed people. 130 figures grace the scene. The painting struck me dumb with awe. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have stood in front of it, transfixed, and been able to study it in person late one August afternoon. It is one of the most incredible works of art I have ever seen.

And you probably have never heard of it. To be honest, I’d never heard of it either until I stumbled upon it while on a pilgrimage of sorts.

You see, there is another notable painting in that particular room of the Louvre. It is displayed, all alone, on the wall opposite The Wedding Feast at Cana. It hangs in the middle of a wall and is encased in glass. A velvet rope and several museum employees ensure that the thick and perpetual crowd swirling in front of it maintain a respectable distance. The wall the painting hangs on is massive, making the entire display look almost ridiculous. However, it is the reason so many people pay the entrance fee to visit the Louvre. There are a handful of such iconic works at the Louvre, but none draw as many admirers as this portrait of a single, solitary figure. It is La Gioconda, better known as the Mona Lisa.

When, where, and how you display your picture makes all the difference in the world.

You are an artist just as surely as Leonardo da Vinci and Paolo Veronese. The story you tell throughout your life is akin to the portfolio of work that the master artists of the Renaissance left behind. Our stories are articulated in a series of pictures that we generate throughout our lives. We are at once artists building the portfolio and art historians curating a collection of inspiring and beautiful works. The gallery is yours to build. Showcase your works very carefully, very deliberately. Although, in scale, The Wedding Feast at Cana is a large envelope compared to the Mona Lisa as a stamp, there is no doubting which of the two represents a more powerful experience for visitors to the Louvre.

While Mike did not set up the perfect story, he told it in the perfect setting. Articulating your purpose and engaging others is all about displaying your art in just the right way.

Others and Your Purpose (Push and Articulation)

It seems all they needed was a picture.

Mike is a dedicated supervisor of the town’s water division. Excellence is in his nature. For months he tried to communicate to his staff how to leave a resident’s yard in a near perfect state after a required excavation. One day he turned his truck onto the street where his crew had completed a job and were in the process of gathering up things around the site. Mike brought his vehicle to a screeching halt, jumped out, and shouted, “Don’t move!” He instructed each person to look around the site one aspect at a time while he carefully painted the picture of a perfect job.

Mike helped his people clearly see what was good and excellent. In the picture he gave them was the gift of why. Mike’s previous messaging did not connect because it missed the why component.

The sequence of why, what, and how is important as you lead others from clarity to engagement to connection. Why is the beginning and it is not a one-time proposition. It is a perpetual dialogue; a new conversation with life. After the initial push, pull them along with the energy of the story−the articulation. In doing so, you add to the gift of why by completing the sequence through what and how as the story unfolds.

Mike did not set up the perfect story. He was simply present enough to know it when he saw it−and to then tell it.

To Be Led (A Leader’s Presence)

In time of virulent insecurity, a swarm devours thought;
the hum drowns out voice.
Deaf to the distraction, you focus where you ought,
guiding me to a new choice.

Trusting what is best for one is best for all,
from failure you refuse to protect.
Your courage fortifies accountability to stand tall;
I now succeed in what I select.

Energized by learning, and driven by a need to share,
you helped me clearly see what is good indeed.
Now I offer in the whole this extension of care,
and lead others to listen inside for what they need.

−J. Brunson

The Reach of a Story
21st Century Skill: Messaging
Book 1, Chapter Three: A New Confidence