I Confess ...
I confess that in the last few weeks (months? years?) I have been very preoccupied with myself. My impending life changes, setting up my practice in a new country, dealing with the conflicts between my kids and between us, my own fears, my own pain, my own expectations, my own needs, my own world … My, my, my....
It feels really tight.
I have been wondering what that dis-ease was: feeling frustrated, leaning into fears, becoming complacent, hiding behind judgements, feeling powerless, at the mercy of others and of circumstances, feeling exhausted, impatient, unseen.
The same dis-ease that affects so many of us, when we close down and we just see our own little world, our own thoughts, our own pain ... and we believe that this is all that there is.
Well luckily last night I stepped out of that tight room and the sky was there, there were the mountains, the full moon, my kids were sleeping peacefully … and right there, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the mountains, I felt it: it is not about me.
A beautiful poem by Lynn Ungar starts with these words: “The universe does not revert around you”. Funny how, being trapped in the illusion it does, makes our whole life become our cage.
So I confess, last night I cried - I seem to do that a lot. I cried for the times that I wasted in concerns that bear no significance, that hinder my creativity, my will for action, my desire for connection, my capacity for laughing, for holding in my arms, for holding valid the many different aspects of the same truth. Like light that enters a prism and splits into many colors, each color holding a fragment of the same reality, each color an expression of the same life.
And I confess I felt peace, enough peace that I was able to fall asleep again. And I felt joy in the morning when I woke up and I could sing out loud, laugh out loud, hold in compassion the fights of my kids, their needs and my own.
So here it is, you see, needs are expressions of our humanity, of our fragility. Our tendency is to adapt to those needs with strategies that perpetrate the image of ourselves we carry around, our ego. We then feel entitled, righteous, we focus on what we 'need to take' from the world around us, in order not to feel lonely, to let that dis-ease release the grip. We fight for our survival, we maximize, we want it all. And in that wanting-it-all we tend to lose sight of what were our own deepest needs in first place, those beautiful expressions of our human nature. The need for being seen, for being connected, for feeling safe, alive and loved.
Quite a funny paradox it would be, if it didn’t have devastating consequences on our own life and the life of this planet. We are trapped in ego-centric 9-years-old selves who want want want. Results of our ego-driven push to fulfill our needs? We collectively have managed to consume earth’s resources at a rate that is now jeopardizing our own survival.
How do we move out of these adaptive strategies to fulfill our needs? Our brain has evolved for more than just operating out of fear and survival mode. We are capable of seeing the whole, of seeing our place within that whole, of connecting to others, of seeing them and allowing them to see us. We are not confined to a fate of loneliness, exhaustion and shame. We are capable of more. We are capable of strategies that regenerate instead of depleting, connect instead of alienating, enrich instead of suppressing.
How do we shift to this other way of operating?
One way is by transforming our “I want” statements into an inquiry, into a question. How can I impact the situation? How can I see my children, my employees, my next-door neighbor, my fellow human beings? What would it take to move out of the cage and into the world?
As it is, the moment we raise the question, we are already shifting, we are already opening, we are already allowing new possibilities. Maybe the possibility for connection, maybe the possibility to move through fear instead of getting stuck in it, maybe the possibility to give instead of taking.
In the middle of the night, amidst the Swiss mountains, my question was “What can I give?”. And trust me that did not come from a place of having it all. It came from a place of fragility and a beautiful emptiness that could be filled with what is most human: our call towards love.
And far from feeling depleted and taken advantage of by focusing on giving instead of taking, far from feeling sidelined and stepped over, I felt at the center of the whole, connected to the whole, to everybody’s needs, holding each one of them as valid, as a beautiful hue of color, as a part of the same light. I was ready for the universe to sing its song for me.
You see, it is not all about me and yet it is ALL about me: what can I give?
Now you may say, what does this have to do with leadership?
THIS HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH LEADERSHIP. Because if you, as a leader, if you don’t take upon yourself the opportunity and responsibility of serving something bigger than your Self and lead us out of this terrible mess, step down! STEP DOWN NOW, not tomorrow, not when you retire, I really mean NOW! Because we don’t need you. We need courageous leaders who are ready for taking responsibilities much bigger than themselves and their profit line. Leaders who don’t feel that the universe reverts around them and yet are ready to let the universe sing for them and with them.