Like Jim Stewart, new leaders are humble. Humility is not wimpy, is not weakness, is not touchy-feely, and is not the denial of our wants and needs. Humility is not the absence of pride and confidence or the refusal to strive to be better. Humility is not passive or the withdrawal from the affairs of life. Humility is a state of being that comes from the internalization and total acceptance, to the core of our souls, that we are essentially powerless. What aware person (leader or not), in today�s world, can think he or she is in control? With humility we can cease being obstacles to creativity and can align ourselves with the greater natural processes of life. We assume our small and integral roles in the reorganization of life that is now happening.
Throughout the existence of human life, and for the past 300 years in particular, humility has not been high on our list of desired traits. We are immature, arrogant, and narcissistic to the extreme in our efforts to dominate and control other people, the natural world, and cultures different than us. We deny much of what is real in life in our effort to find certainty and predictability in our world. We believe we can stand apart from others and succeed in life through our self-will. We seek external power and this futile quest increases our sense of insecurity because we can never have external control. We are not at home in this world we created.
We now see the unintended results of this arrogance: ecological crisis, destruction of cultural diversity, a breakdown of institutions, and threats to that which makes us human--our ability to make meaningful connections with others and with life itself. This responsibility is ours. We created this world. This truth angers and frightens us and many of us resist it with all the energy we can summon. We run faster and faster, work harder and harder, consume more and more--terrified to know the truth of our emptiness and powerlessness. Economic boom tells us all is well but deep down we know better. Our world-view (and many of our organizations and many of us) will shrink from exhaustion, burn out, and internal rebellion. Our suffering begins a process of purification.
More and more of us come proactively (the other route is via personal crisis) to accept our essential powerlessness not only from our failure to find the elusive security we seek but also from new knowledge from the scientific community we worship. This knowledge (known forever by intuitive people of faith, vision, and creativity) shatters the beliefs that we can control, dominate, and predict living systems (including people and organizations). With this acceptance and knowledge, we begin our conscious evolution. We realize that we are but one species on a planet of diverse and dwindling species. We are no more or less significant in the universe than a sub-atomic particle is in a universe teeming with sub-atomic particles. We are not separate and distinct. We are interconnected and intertwined with all of nature and with each other. This insight breaks through the denial and resistance of more people every day. The truth of this reality is our hope. These people and the movement they are a part of are our hope for a sustainable future.
Once we let go of our resistance, open our minds and hearts, and learn anew our fear and humiliation turn to hope and excitement for a more highly developed human being that is at one with all living beings. We assume our role as steward of the planet and identify with life itself instead of our little corner of life. This is a humility born of awe and wonder at life�s creative processes and nature�s power.
Humility gives us the perspective that spiritual values and character building are desirable in and of themselves. External symbols of power lose their appeal. Our thoughts become clear. Our authenticity begins to come forth, to tell the truth takes on a new importance, and doing what is right when no one is looking takes on new meaning. We hold ourselves responsible for what needs doing. We find our own direction from within. And we forgive ourselves and others for none of us has completed our personal work. We hold our newly formed beliefs firmly but always realize that there will be more new insight and knowledge and that we might be wrong. This mindfulness will keep us open to new insights. Our journeys are never complete.
Our responsibility to life requires a strength and determination beyond, perhaps, any asked of us human beings before in our brief history. We find that strength and determination in the power of our personal purpose, our vision for the future, and our core values. They provide the constant as we navigate a sea of chaos, turmoil, uncertainty, and accelerating change. The life force that permeates our purpose, vision, and values is our fundamental belief in something greater than ourselves.
Our evolution requires that we exorcise from our souls those aspects of ourselves that are destructive to life and life�s natural dynamics and accept aspects of ourselves long denied. We become willing to do the work to remove our false and excessive pride. We move beyond the ego that got us to where we are and now obstructs our further development. We surrender to our powerlessness and seek ways to evolve ourselves, support one another, and heal our planet. Our motivation is powerful, and we pay whatever price is necessary to grow for the cause is great.
If we recognize the immensity of the challenge, we cannot help but be reverent. From that recognition, we find our courage to contribute our authenticity for the betterment of the whole. We become a servant and place the spiritual development of others and the recovery of the planet ahead of our personal and material desires. Materialism is not anyone�s true purpose for living. This world of our authenticity is the world we are at home in.
We have much work to do to recover from the excesses of our earlier development. We cannot sit around and act helpless all day. For while we are not in control, we can make choices and, by our actions, influence life. We must seize the moment and take action. Within the context of our humility and powerlessness, we fight with unstoppable determination for the life and integrity of our planet, our species, and all other forms of life. With self-discipline and the knowledge that we take our actions with us into eternity, we confront the enemies of the true self, stand up to those things that are cruel, abusive, damaging, and discouraging and challenge injustice and oppression.
As leaders we quit the cowardly act of trying to lead from the rear and step forth into the unknown. We realize that we know little about the true nature of people, leadership, and organizations, and we become learners. We learn to listen and ask questions. We quit shooting the messenger. We apologize when we are wrong. We give credit where credit is due. We let go of control and let others lead when their talents are called for. We accept others as they are and let them grow in their own ways. We step out of the spotlight and let it shine on others. We take genuine pleasure in the success of others. We find that we care about others. We realize that great leaders are first good people who embrace and integrate their feminine, masculine, and shadow sides.
New leaders are not without anger. Their anger is forceful disapproval of lies told, trust betrayed, innocence violated, reality denied, power abused, and incompetence rewarded. They don�t turn indifferent or deny their anger and become sadistic and abusive. True leaders engage their anger and use its energy to empower themselves and free others. The new leaders are ecological warriors.
The new leaders take responsibility and confront squarely the genuine problems enterprises face today: incongruent thought processes, problems of vision and values, the management of change, issues of mediocrity and organizational capacity, questions of sustainability, the truth of leadership capability, and matters of responsibility and accountability.
We say goodbye to the old ways of control and domination. We reject addictive and compulsive thought systems. We begin to cooperate and align our intentions with natural processes. We open communication with our higher power and feel the spiritual energy within us. We find the spiritual courage to live our values and purpose in relationship with like-minded people. We live a spiritual life. We step out of our self-absorption, increase our awareness, and make our unique and special contribution. We are strong yet supple. We have a true and eccentric heart that creates a powerful legacy. This is authentic power. This life gives us the inner security we seek. This is a higher level of leadership.
@2001 Tom Heuerman, Ph.D.