Leading Like a Monk: When We Start to Feel a Little Lost

Leading Like a Monk: When We Start to Feel a Little Lost August 30, 2018

When We Start to Feel a Little Lost

I like to have the sense I know where I am going. When my direction is not clear I start to get nervous and feel a little lost.

Many of us expect to understand where we are and would like to be going. We may have been taught it is part of growing up to make our own decisions, to find our own way. It can be a challenge for us when someone else tries to tell us where to go or how to get there.

Some of us even feel uncomfortable asking for directions.

We expect our leaders to set out clear goals and objectives. Why would we follow someone who seems a little lost?

For some of us planning and preparation are all about deciding where we are going and knowing how to get there. We want to be certain. It may take us a lot of thinking to make final decisions. Some of us put a lot of time and effort into fitting together all the pieces of the perfect plan.

We may find planning to be the most interesting part of any project. When we take a trip, for example, it may be almost anticlimactic for us to actually arrive and spend time somewhere.

Believing we know where we are going helps us feel safer and more secure. We like to think we know what we are doing and are in control of our lives.

We tend to ignore or forget the benefits of feeling a little lost.

When a leader does give us clear goals and specific steps to take, we can feel they are micromanaging. Part of our joy of doing something is figuring it out for ourselves.

Leaders need to find the balance between being clear and demonstrating confidence in our abilities.

Why Would We Want to Feel a Little Lost?

The leaders who inspire us convince us we can do more than we thought we could. They show us the places where we start to feel a little lost are where we begin to explore, begin to be creative.

I have worked with people who called themselves leaders who were micromanagers. Their understanding of leadership was apparently based in the fact they could not do everything themselves. They needed to assign responsibilities to other people, and they did not seem to enjoy it.

It did not inspire me to work with them. They acted as though they were highly motivated to check every detail and ensure it was done the way they would have done it. Their focus was on results. They did not appear to believe leadership had much to do with me.

My role in their leadership was to serve as an extension of them.

The leaders who inspire me do not ignore accomplishing things. They also take other things into consideration.

Their leadership is intended to help me learn, to encourage me to grow as a leader myself. These leaders give me opportunities to recognize things for myself and build new skills.

Even though we are not comfortable when we feel a little lost, it gets us thinking. Doing what we have done before, what is familiar, is not exploring. We are less likely to discover something new without feeling a little lost.

The leaders who inspire us to exceed our expectations put us in situations where we can.

They have shown me they do not have all the answers, either, and I am able to explore on my own.

Leadership is about allowing ourselves to feel a little lost and giving other people opportunities to feel that way.

Leadership When We Feel a Little Lost

One of the leaders who inspires me is particularly good at getting me to feel a little lost.

Robert Hale is one of the monks at New Camaldoli Hermitage with whom I have a strong connection. We appreciate each other’s sense of humor and sense of adventure. He is the person at New Camaldoli with whom I have shared the most.

I wrote a few weeks ago about Robert’s health problems and how I was looking forward to seeing him this month. Sadly, his challenges have grown more serious and I was not able to spend time with him while I was there. It was the first time I have spent time at New Camaldoli without seeing Robert.

Robert has a particular gift for helping me feel a little lost. He rarely responds to one of my questions without asking a question back. His gift encourages me to see things in a new light and think things through for myself.

Now, without the opportunity to see his smile and give him one of mine, I feel a little lost.

I missed him while I was at New Camaldoli a couple weeks ago and I miss being able to talk with him. The idea we will not be able to talk again makes me feel more than a little lost.

If we were able to talk, he would smile and reassure me, and ask me a question which made me feel a little lost. We would face reality together and he would get me to see something new.

Feeling a Little Lost

I believe in the power which begins with feeling a little lost.

We may feel more comfortable when we think we know where we are going. I know I would feel better if I could talk with Robert Hale again.

We forget how often our insights and wisdom, which make us good leaders, grow from feeling a little lost.

It is the leaders who draw us into that feeling of being a little lost who bring out the best in us. We begin to appreciate being a little lost as a step into curiosity.

Feeling a little lost helps us explore and discover.

When will we start to feel a little lost today?

Who will help us feel a little lost this week?

[Image by aeu04117]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and leadership coach in Southern California. He is a recovering attorney and university professor, and a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com, and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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