Updated: Aug 3, 2018
“Awareness is a constant reaching out and responding to everything in the environment; to people, the sunset, the sounds of the street, the smell of flowers, the clackity-clack of the subway wheels. It is not tiring or boring. In fact, it is quite the opposite; it is the essence of life (Frick, Spears, pp. 38-39).
My awareness began its expansion in new ways with ORGL 600: Foundations of Leadership. I was handed a platter of diversity in learning about leadership, the platter embossed with the words the journey towards wholeness and belonging. I embraced curiosity and let go of the reins of control that I would be ready to receive all I was meant to learn through the ORGL program about leadership and myself.
With my mind open and my heart starting to heal, my will cautiously yet courageously stepped up to that crack where I stood. “Always start by attending to the crack…[which] means attending to the openings, the challenges, and the disruptions where we feel the past ending and the future waiting to begin (Scharmer, Krause, p. 23).
I increased my awareness that I respond well to the rhythm of ritual. With my experience at the abbey in ORGL 522: Leadership and Community, I became more mindful of how the ritual of running in the morning followed by silent meditation keeps me grounded in now for the day’s unfolding. “Rituals are holy, healing, restorative gestures, sound images that give us a definitive direction to our disabled interior lives… [in ritual] we open ourselves to a power that is always there in our center” (Horsman, 2010, p. 1).
ORGL 530: Servant-Leadership provided awareness that there is definition for what is calling me in how I want to lead. As my heart found healing to give myself permission in that definition to lead in servitude, I also found an awareness that where I thought I didn’t fit in for how I viewed leading people, I was now finding belonging through the words I was reading for class. “The servant leader who is aware gives light, life, and healing. All around us, we see a world fraught with numbness, addiction, and failures of relationship that come in a myriad of forms. Closing our eyes to the pain, it is as if night has fallen…but in the morning, when the sun returns, the servant leader awakens the world” (Ferch, p. 145). Awakens the world to hope.
I became aware to see and see again how I was living my value of not judging others. Through ORGL 610: Ethical Leadership, I learned about ethical pluralism and dialogic communication. “Ethical relativism is initially attractive to many of us because it offers the promise of tolerance and understanding, which are attitudes most of us value highly. All too often in the past, we have rushed to judgment, let condemnation eliminate the need for tolerance, and allowed superiority to substitute for understanding” (Hinman, p. 29). I did not recognize until I read about ethical absolutism, ethical relativism, and ethical pluralism that perhaps I could reevaluate the value I placed on not judging others. That inner whisper within gently nudged, what has been important to you is to not live a life of harshly judging others; now, are you short-changing human connection by not fully showing up in what you believe? Or perhaps even more, Chris, are you at risk that you are still judging others by not giving them a chance to hear and respond to your voice? Have you already judged how they think and feel before exchanging in dialogue with them?
My awareness shifted further in respect to ethical dialogic exchange. Lean into tension. Translation, honor differing viewpoints. “Yet running through all of these answers we will find a single habit of the heart’ to be in the world nonviolently means leaning to hold the tension of opposites, trusting that the tension itself will pull our hearts and minds open to a third way of thinking and acting (Palmer, 2013). Perhaps I had been looking at my vision trying to determine how I could remove the tensions; in doing so, maybe I was missing a better pathway not yet seen.
I also became aware of a pattern I had opportunity to redesign. Historically I had given my trust to others, that they knew more, better, or instead. I was discovering within myself through this journey in ORGL 610: Ethical Leadership that I can still learn from them, but that honoring the differences we may have between us builds stronger collective trust, and larger capability to foster positive change for the greater good. The more I began trusting myself, the greater I began hearing others in how they believed. Not so different we are one from another in what, at our core, we think. As the causal loop began to spin in a different direction, its circle enveloped additional self-healing.
I was back at the crack where I stood, yet I was not in the same place. Spirals are like that. Puzzle pieces fitting into place as the slivers of my heart glued together even more. I stood at the next doorway of ORGL 615: Leadership Systems and Behaviors with my will opened greater to taking a stand in what I believed in. I stood with papers in hand - an action plan written that set the intentions for: practicing my voice, having fun in the gap, engaging in dialogic exchange to learn, exhibiting pluralism, listening, establishing a professional circle of trust, beginning to engage in socialization processes in those areas I desire to apply my ethical leadership, and engaging with others in stewardship.
I stood with a desire to answer the questions: What is my purpose? If I know what it is, would I take it? And if I took it, what will it get me? In ORGL 615, I became aware I already had penciled in answers to each of these question up to day one of this course. Patterns create repetitive loops, and a walk back in time can reveal connections not previously seen. Drawing on paper can create the capability to rise above as if looking down from a mountain peak below to see those processes in which the wheel can be spun into a new motion. Drawing timelines can provide emerging future clarity. Assessing patterns can reveal how, though I thought I had been traveling down the river these past 18 months, I realized where I had actually been traveling up the river seeking to understand what I could do to stop the bodies (old limiting patterns and beliefs) from floating down stream (A Leadership Parable).
I was introduced to the powerful practice of inquiry and advocacy as we climb up the ladder and down in our dialogue with others. I became aware that I was being given an opportunity to thread the learnings from my previous courses in practical application in ORGL 615. The seed of advocacy planted in ORGL 610 started to sprout in ORGL 615 as I brought my wholeness to the ladder while I practiced listening, inquiring, and sharing for collective healing in a community among my team of mountaineers I had the privilege of climbing Mount Everest with.
One morning I had stepped outside of the house greeted by the most breathtaking rainbows. Two of them initially, their vibrant red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet colors guiding my walk to the vehicle. Then one appeared in full array highlighted by the glistening sun on my drive after turning left, and then appearing again as I turned right down another road. Four displays of promise, four whispers true colors. It was as if each represented a corner post with me in the center. Certain colors stood out more – red, orange, yellow, green, violet - suggesting color symbolism like green for the heart and orange for healing. By the time I saw the fourth display, I couldn’t help pondering, perhaps a rainbow doesn’t end in a half circle but actually dives into the dark soil forming a half-moon of color we can’t see. At the point it completes this half-moon back into the light, the pot of gold is found.
I am aware I have traveled a circle, yet I no longer stand at the spot where I once stood. I pray there are many more circles ahead for me before my time on Earth is complete. A life-long journey of growing and learning, independently and interdependently as servant-leader for humanity.
A Leadership Parable:
Frick, D., Spears, L., (1996). The Private Writings of Robert K. Greenleaf: On Becoming a
Servant Leader. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Hinman, L. M. (2012). Understanding the diversity of moral beliefs. In Ethics: A pluralistic approach to moral theory 2 (pp.25-60). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
Horsman, J. (2010). On Ritual. Gonzaga University, 21-September-2010
Ferch, S. (2012). Forgiveness and Power in the Age of Atrocity: Servant Leadership as a Way of Life. Lanham, Maryland. Lexington Books.
Palmer, P.J., (2013, March 19). What is a Divided Life. Retrieved from:
Scharmer, O., Kaufer, K., (2013). Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.