Leadership. What is it?
Some of us are familiar with it. We know we’ve been leaders in our careers, families or communities. But if you’re anything like me, you may be saying, “Well, that’s not me. I’m not a leader.”
A few weeks ago, I went to a Women’s Leadership Summit, hosted by the amazing spiritual business leader, Sage Lavine. That weekend inspired me to really dive deep into what being a leader means. Why do I say I’m not a leader? The answer is: I’ve been afraid. And I’ve been resisting. I’ve had to look at my fear and resistance, before I could admit that I am a leader.
We all are leaders, but we may not know it yet. Leadership is all about stepping into our own greatness. Once we step into it, our greatness naturally impacts others. It influences and inspires them. It could be inspiration for a specific cause (like protecting the rainforest from oil drilling) or a specific goal (like developing a mobile app for entrepreneurs in India). Or, more importantly, it could be inspiration for others to also step into their own unique greatness. How many times do you see people fully being themselves that leave you feeling more alive and full of possibility?
Leadership is about stepping into the role we were meant to be in. My role is waiting for me, and always has been. Everyone around me can see it better than I can. But I’m not yet there. Instead of shying away from it consciously or unconsciously, I’m learning to become it more and more each day.
To do this, I need to connect to and honor my authentic self- what’s at the core of who I am and what needs expression. Discovering this hasn’t been an easy process for me. I get caught up in what I think I “should” be doing - how I should be living, running my business, interacting with people, etc, instead of listening to my authentic voice. (To read more about my journey, check out my previous blog post.)
At this Women’s Leadership Summit, I was introduced to the profound work of Reverend Deborah Johnson. In her book Your Deepest Intent, she writes “You are brought into this world to BE something.” She talks about how the “discipline” to be this "something" HAS to be internal. It must come from within, rather than be imposed from the outside. The “shoulds” I've been telling myself come from what I see and experience other people doing and living around me. It's the societal norm I've been listening to, not my authentic calling. Rev. Deborah writes, “[The discipline to be] must be chosen, it must be conscious…The intent should be for the highest purpose……it should be about fulfilling the promise of your Isness in the world. If the inner drive is really about rewards, competition, contrast, and comparison, and the like, then the disciple it exhibits isn’t really coming from the inside. It is more an internalization of external forces, in much the same way that one might experience internalized oppression.” While I was living the way I thought I “should,” I assumed that my “reward” would be love and happiness. However, I can only feel love and happiness in my life by living from my authentic, higher self, not from societal norm standards. And that path to discovery was a long journey! I still say that leadership is challenging. I still RESIST. I don’t want to do it all the time. It’s much easier to sit back and let life happen, than to truly step into it. I also have a lot of FEAR. I’m afraid of being responsible for big things in my life. What if they don’t go well? What if I piss people off? What if I fail?
Ultimately, it’s a CHOICE. Being a leader is a choice. As I was looking inside for what it takes to be in my leadership, I thought of one of my dad’s dearest friends, who was an escaped prisoner of war, in both World War II and the Korean War. His is an extreme example, but he found what it takes deep inside to get himself out of his captive situation, not just once, but twice. There was "something" he had to be in the world and he wasn’t going to die in captivity. I say this is an extreme, because he had to kill to make it happen. If he had been stopped by fear or resistance, he wouldn't have escaped or have gone on to be the great inspiration that he has been for those around him. People are inspired by his stories, but ultimately, they are inspired by him finding the place in himself to live into who he is here to BE.
Not everyone around me is going to be pleased all the time with me being me. Especially as I become more and more the role that is waiting for me. I need to speak my truth, take action, and make changes in my life that will challenge others. When other people are impacted, my tendency is to step down, to back away. I don’t want to upset anyone or get in their way. It’s a balance - between holding alignment with who I really am and allowing space for others to be leaders themselves. Both are absolutely possible. And often the challenge that arises by me being my authentic self is simply an opportunity for others to also learn and grow into who they are. There’s room for us all.
I’m learning to believe in myself. I trust that I have what it takes to be me. I don’t know what it is in every situation, but I trust I will find what I need to be when I arrive there. In the wise words of Rev. Deborah, “The doing happens more effortlessly and easily, more quickly and more efficiently. Furthermore, the more you allow yourself to be, the more your perception alters not only how much needs to be done, but what needs to be done.”
I’m letting go of what I think needs to be done. I’m expanding my possibility. Surrendering to the moment. Only then can I hear my internal calling for greatness.
“Most of you are busy trying to squeeze the great, grand, magnificent spiritual you into this li’l ole bitty box called your personality. And in clinging so tenaciously to your personality, you squeeze out the possibility of your greatness.”
Are you ready to let go of who you think you are?
As Rev. Deborah asks, “Are you willing to no longer recognize yourself?”
Is that voice inside calling you into your greatness?
Protectress of Mother Earth, Energy Healing, Plant Medicine Integration, Coach, Writer