July 17, 2012

Lead People Inward

© Drewrawcliffe | Stock Free Images &Dreamstime Stock Photos

I messed up this morning.

Many of us are provided the opportunity to give help to those around us.  This is the essence of leadership, right?   We see a need and we allow our qualities to diminish it.  We influence.  We caution.  We project what we have learned on others hoping to resolve the issues.  I guess the question is, are we really helping?

Every person, when conflicted, has only two ways to look for help and direction—inside and out.  One of these is over-used and one is not used nearly enough.  While both may be sources of quality influence, we have to consider which is sometimes good but potentially hurtful, and which is always good and potentially freeing.
When someone that is hurt in some way looks to those around him for help, he is looking to outward experiences that have been built on others personalities.   It would be like taking two 5,000 piece puzzles, combining them, and trying to make one giant puzzle.  It just would not work.  Sometimes the experiences and personalities of the two parties match enough to seem productive, but what we don’t see is the potential for true growth that we are removing ourselves and the one in need from.

On the other hand, when someone hurt looks inside themselves, they are connecting to the most powerful source of infinite guidance ever.  Parker J. Palmer says, “Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”  If we look inside ourselves, we learn who we really are.  We build a customized value system, and we learn how to lead ourselves through any problem.  How can we claim to be leaders if we are leading others away from this opportunity?

So like I said, I messed up.  I had good intentions when I tried to help someone close to me but I was still leading them away from their selfhood and thus from their ultimate source of creative, fulfilling power.
“We must come together in ways that respect the solitude of the soul, that avoid the unconscious violence we do when we try to save each other that evoke our capacity to hold another life without dishonoring its mystery, never trying to coerce the other into meeting our own needs.”  -Parker J. Palmer

So yes, leaders do have the responsibility to find needs and give assistance.  But may we do so carefully.  May we do so in such way that will inspire those around us to connect to themselves and learn about themselves.  So lead people inward, this is the most unselfish, service-oriented way.

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