Leading Like a Monk: How Much Further Can We Go?

Leading Like a Monk: How Much Further Can We Go? December 13, 2018

How Much Further Can We Go?

There are days, sometimes weeks, when we wonder how much further we can go.

Sometimes it feels like a long time since we made any progress or accomplished anything. We worry we are stuck or sitting up on blocks turning to rust.

Maybe we feel we are coasting, relying on our past achievements. We might be frustrated because other people do not seem to even remember our most significant work. We feel we are being hindered and hampered as we struggle to make a meaningful contribution.

Some of us are not able to identify the opportunities which would allow us to be more productive.

It is easy for us to fall into lives of quiet desperation, looking for ways to be satisfied or fulfilled.

We may be convinced our best days are behind us. It may be we missed them because we were not paying attention.

When we are busy being productive and accomplishing things it is a challenge for us to pay mindful attention. We get focused on the details of what we need to do and often lose touch with who we are becoming. Our focus is often on doing our best and demonstrating how well we are working.

Many of us get to a point where we begin seeking more satisfaction and fulfillment in our lives. We start looking for ways to apply what we have learned in new situations. Some of us wonder how much further we can go.

Many of us begin looking for different kinds of goals to meet and different kinds of challenges to face.

We may realize we need to be responsible for leading ourselves before we can take responsibility to lead others. Our leadership is awakening to its own spiritual aspects, its own depth and meaning.

How Much Further Do We Need to Go?

There are times when we feel we have already done everything we set out to do.

We feel we have already accomplished our goals. This may have been a very good year for us. We may have been following good advice, exceeding expectations, getting things under control. It is possible we have even overcome opposition and outscored our competitors.

There are also times when we feel there is no real point in continuing.

We may feel less hopeful about making a significant difference. Do we still believe in what we are doing? Are we feeling discouraged, tired, or ready to give up and stop trying? We might see ourselves as out of options, out of time, out of luck.

People come to me for different reasons, looking for their own answers. Some people want to become better or stronger. Other people would like to develop new skills and learn to do things in new ways. Some people want to find peace, happiness, calmness which has eluded them.

They may simply be looking for someone who will listen to them.

Each of us is seeking something different. Are we dissatisfied, disappointed by what we have found so far? Each of us wants to heal the pain of lacking the depth and joy for which we hunger.

People who come to me want more than just to be reassured or comforted. They want something real which will make their lives different. The people who come to me want to find deep, underlying truth which transcends life’s challenges.

We work together to discover and explore the deep joy where they can find everyday happiness.

How Much Further Is There For Us to Go?

I do not believe the world needs another organized checklist or another set of standardized plans.

The value of our experience is not in how it makes us feel. We have not worked so hard or so effectively just to add to our resumes.

We do not measure how much further we can go by what we have already done. The key question in understanding how much further we can go is recognizing the first step.

Each of us brings a wealth of experience and insight to our next step. What determines how much further we can go is how willing we are to allow our insights to shape our actions.

Our experience benefits us when it fuels our reflection and contemplation about the lessons it has for us.

Are we willing to take the opportunity to consider what we have done?

The challenges we face in the future are not about replicating the effectiveness we have demonstrated in the past. Our leadership will be less about efficiency or meeting goals and more about wisdom.

We may have learned a great deal about working with people or budgets. Our leadership is just touching the surface of a vast potential ocean of wisdom.

When we take time for contemplation and reflection we begin to dip our toes into wisdom.

How Much Further Are We Willing to Go?

It is not us who are sitting up on blocks turning to rust, but our understanding of leadership.

We have the unique opportunity to practice leadership in new ways. The ways we understand and live into leadership, based in our reflection, will change what leadership is.

Grounded in traditional, even ancient, models of leadership we can become new kinds of leaders. Contemplation allows us to hold our experience up to the light and see new facets.

The way we see leadership has been parked in the driveway for too long. It is time for us to take a closer look, maybe replace a few parts, and start things again.

The only real limitation on how much further we can go is our own willingness to learn and grow. We can see ourselves as worn out, rusting relics or as building blocks of a new kind of contemplative leadership.

Each of us has or own contributions to make and, together, how much further we can go?

How much further can we go today?

What are the limits of how much further we are willing to go this week?

[Image by Gerry Dincher]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and 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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