Leading by Being then Doing

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It’s easy to get caught in a frenzy of over-activity, over-whelm and over-committing when we think and then try to do something about the challenges we currently face globally and in our communities.

A leadership that contributes to our thriving future will be a leadership that comes from a place of deep centered calm in response to these challenges. Yes, now is the time to lead. However, we need to practice leading from a place of inner connectedness, while having the awareness of what’s happening in the environment around us. That is being.

As we are leading, we are creating the future. We need to explore doing things differently. The way we do things now can’t come with us into the next now. Those ways have been part of what got us into this precarious and in some cases potentially catastrophic situation.

Recently I was invited to go for a jaunt in a small sailing boat. I’d like to share my experience by way of illustrating being, then doing.

The crew consisted of myself, a friend, who is a competent sailor, and his young son. It wasn’t the best of times in terms of external conditions. The water was calm and still, which also meant there was little or no wind. So what’s the problem with that really? It would just mean we wouldn’t get far or have that sensation of speed over the water. Added to this, the tide was moving out to sea. The water from a wide expansive bay is sucked out through a narrow estuary, creating a strong current.

So there I was in this sailing boat, a little lift of wind from the land pushed us out from the shore. Then I had a sensation that something wasn’t quite right. The boat was moving sideways quickly. I had an awareness that my senses were attempting to make sense of what I was experiencing.

Then I realized that we were being moved by the current, in a direction that we didn’t want to go and with little wind to move us.

From a place of being we got the oar out and began to paddle. We could gauge by looking at landmarks on the shore that we were at a complete standstill, neither going forward, nor backwards. Our efforts exactly met the force of the water’s pull, not for long though. It was almost imperceptible, yet I could see that  we were beginning to lose ground and slip away from the landmarks we had kept an eye on.

At some point we were being pushed sideways. I suggested to the gung-ho captain that we move towards the shore and get out of the current. Fortunately I have processed my various challenging and at times traumatic experiences with water and I was able to stay present to what was happening.

From a place of being, we turned the boat, worked with the sails and found a whisper of wind that gave us the power to take us out of the current. From there, closer to shore our rowing efforts had the impact we needed for a bit. Then at some point I was able to jump out of the boat and walk it to its mooring.

There are as many ways to unpack this experience as there are perspectives reading it.

The learning that stayed with me is relevant to a leadership that contributes to our thriving future. It’s the stages of the relationship with the current, its impact on us and how we responded. How we were able to stay in a state of being

We were pushed by the current, then we were in a holding pattern – meeting the current with the same strength, however it maintained its force as we tired. And finally by choosing a different tack, literally, we found a tiny bit of wind that moved us to a place where we could act more effectively.

To me that wind is the grace we need to be present to every moment in our leadership. You know that it comes in many guises. It’s the opening that seems to come from out of nowhere, that sense of expansion. It brings ease and relief. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel.

The thing about grace is that when you’re trying, pushing and forcing, it remains illusive. This is why developing a sense of comfort with being is an essential leadership skill.

We need all the assistance we can get and it will come through our being, and then doing from that place. If we do from a place of urgency, forcing or panic we will end up using more energy and will probably accomplish less.

What are your experiences of leading by being, then doing? Share your insights by leaving a comment below.

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