This article is part of a series called Connected Leadership. It revolves around the observations or lessons a father wrote about in his memoir, You Are Held In Love. The specific lessons addressed in this article are:
- If you want to change your life, change your language — This lesson is the how, the starting point for nearly all of the lessons above. To identify your beliefs, listen to your language, listen to your thoughts. To unknow and move to nothing, listen to what you know and what you believe by listening to your language.
- We create through being — Because we are, we create. Our beingness is what allows us to be creators. Since our beingness enables creation, what we are creating arises out of how we are being. Are you aware of how you are being in every moment? We create through being.
- Objects appear as you are — This lesson couples well with the one above. Humans tend to project their feelings, emotions, fears, and subconscious biases onto others. Another way of saying this is, I am not what you think I am; you are what you think I am. Are you aware that negative thinking about that other person or team is actually your own reflection? Objects appear as you are.
- The next moment is empty — This lesson couples well with the two above. The gist is, you are a creator through being, and every next moment of your life is empty of your creation, devoid of your contribution. Every next moment is empty, containing nothing, thereby providing the possibility for you to create anything, say anything, do anything within it. The next moment is empty.
- I have never regretted being compassionate — When all else fails, be compassionate. Move from a space of love. Understand the blessing of the moment you are in, and be compassionate. I doubt you will ever regret this choice.
It was Wednesday, three months, three weeks, and three days after starting my new role. I sat at a round table, probably ten feet in diameter. Men surrounded the table, filling every seat and overflowing into a standing room only crowd leaning against walls and propped up on counters. A VP had called the meeting, inviting numerous functional leaders from within his organization to discuss the status of a project that had apparently missed a delivery deadline. I was amazed at the palpable anger and defensiveness that filled the room, even before anyone spoke. I was appreciative of myself, of my ability to be “tuned in, tapped in, and turned on”, as Abraham Hicks says, connected and aware of the silent information filling the room. This did not appear to be a new experience for many, and it did not appear to be an experience anyone was excited about participating in.
The VP was curt with his description of the problem and he wanted answers, his temperament was not concealed, and he was obviously irritated with his team somehow letting work deliverables slip through the crack. Participants who spoke provided reasons for the lack of delivery, many pointing to other leaders present in the room, as the hunt was on to discover the failure.
Another empath, a person who was also new to the company, sat across from me and asked, “why is everyone so angry?”
There was no reply.
I smiled, happy that someone else was tuned into some part of what I was experiencing, and also impressed by his willingness to point at the obvious.
The discourse of the meeting had not yet revealed the source of the failure. Frustrated with this lack of progress, the VP angrily wound the already tight room tighter, announcing, “I will hold meetings twice a day until this is delivered.”
Disappointment set in as I witnessed this leader's lack of presence, lack of connection with the dynamics of the room, and lack of clear powerful decision making about more meetings delivering increased productivity.
Although I had only been with this company a short time, I saw overworked teams and overworked leaders. Teams and leaders that were tired, tired of failures being the reason for meetings rather than successes. Teams and leaders tired of more, bolder, faster. The energy in the room was wound tight, seemingly bound by a company culture providing little room for delay, where everything appeared to be a priority which usually means nothing is. I was witnessing the loss of human connection due to a singular focus on delivering.
Months later, this same VP approached me as I was walking down a quiet hall in a large wing of the building.
“How are you doing?” He smiled and asked. “How have your first few months been?”
“Great! Thank you! I have been learning a lot. Just observing and trying to take it all in. Speaking of that, are you open to some feedback?” I responded.
A surprised look flashed across his face. He smiled. “Sure.” he said.
We sat down in some comfortable chairs nearby. The area was still with no foot traffic. The sun warmed my shoulders as it shined in through the glass windows behind us.
“Do you remember that meeting a couple of months ago, on the project that was late?”
“I do.” he said.
“I have just a couple questions I wanted to ask. One, after you informed your team about the project, and its required delivery date, did you ever follow up with them regarding progress? Two, when you assigned it out, did you let them know of its priority or importance?”
He sat silently for a second. “No and no.” he said.
“Awesome. One other question. Did you feel the anger in the room, or did you notice how tightly wound the room was?” I asked.
“Yes.” he responded.
I sat silently for a second, waiting for the words to come. “I have only been here a short time, but it seems everyone is overworked. I see and feel a tremendous amount of pressure on teams, and on individuals to deliver. It appears dates are being missed not because of incompetence or maliciousness but because of workload and lack of prioritization.”
The words stopped for a moment. We were both silent.
Words flowed again. “Here is another perspective of what occurred in the room. An already busy leader assigned work to an already busy team, and never followed up with that team to help them understand the importance of that one project.”
Compassionately I said “Imagine saying that out loud in that meeting! I realize each of you is busy, and I also realize I am busy too. I realize I did not follow up with you to let you know how important this project is. That is my mistake. What do you need from me to get this done? How can I help?”
“Do you feel how this would have unwound the energy of the meeting? People just want to have a human connection. They want to see their leaders as human, as people who get busy and frustrated and who make mistakes and miss things too. People look to leaders for inspiration. They want to know all of it is ok. All of this was available at the moment to show and demonstrate and influence.” I said. I felt a pang of fear as I realized the corporate vulnerability I had exposed by being so boldy me.
He sat silent for a minute, thinking, feeling. “I do feel that. Thank you for your feedback!” he responded.
We both got up and left.
I am a fan of this leader because he is humble and open. He is connected to his heart and always seeking to improve.
We create through being. What are we creating into the next moment it is a direct reflection of how we are being in the current moment. The next moment is empty of our contribution. This fact is always true. What are you creating into every next moment? That is both a question and a goal. The goal? To be continually aware of and aspiring toward the full purposeful, intentional presence of being from which to create from.
We impact our own lives, as well as those friends, family, and colleagues around us, through our language and our way of being. Our first order of business in each moment is to be appreciative of those we are surrounded by, as many of them are actively looking around for guidance.
If it feels as though all of it is someone else’s fault, then there is an opportunity to look deeply and honestly towards oneself.
Lead with compassion and humility. Be a Connected Leader.