Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Wall

No this is not a reflection on the classic Pink Floyd album. This is a reflection on a fundamental block that I have had in my thinking and feeling for four years. This block was certainly present as my writing became more and more academic through the doctoral program. More than that my thinking was held hostage by an inability to experience my emotions fully to write and think with my heart as well as my head.

I realize now that perhaps this blog is for me, not for the world. Perhaps what I have to share is not contained in the thousands of pages I have read of late but is in fact the pursuit of my authentic self. I realized today that for four years I put my professional passion in a small box not to be taken out. In containing my professional passion, I locked away my personal passion as well. Today I was forced to take a good look in the mirror. I saw myself and I realized that this person in the mirror was no longer me. For too long I have allowed myself to be a vacant shell. Rather than engage my passion and experience my life fully I have carefully controlled my emotions, managed my relationships, and safely executed a course through treacherous water.

Now looking back, I see that I may have successfully navigated the journey; however, I missed the wind in my hair and the salt water in my eyes. Indeed the thrill of the adventure is lost because I stayed below deck where I wouldn't get wet. I recognize that it is time to re-engage my emotions to open myself to the full experience that life has to offer. I am so grateful to the people who hold up the mirrors for me to see myself, who challenge me to be better, and believe in the capacity of my spirit.

Today I realized that the facade of the leader is to present the illusion of self-sufficiency to myself and to others. I have failed to acknowledge my need of others and the role that they play in my development. True leadership requires the sacrifice of certainty, the shattering of independence, and the conscious choice to engage fully with the people I serve.

I thought that I was terrified of the challenges that lay ahead for me. Today I recognized the reality that I was terrified of myself. Terrified of what might happen if I pursued excellence fully, if I brought the best that I have to offer and did not succeed. That terror is now gone replaced with the peace that comes with recognizing that the only thing I can bring to life's challenges is me, all of me. I am all I have to offer the world and the greatest disservice I could do is not to bring all of me to the challenge.

The wall is coming down, it has to. There is no room in my leadership style not to experience the power, passion, and thrill of the viral spread of positive emotion and the joy of realized potential. Hope, optimism, resilience, and confidence are not only academic concepts to be measured. They are the basic currency of leadership. They are the underlying foundation of who I am. Authentic leadership is an act of faith that what I bring and who I am will be up for the challenge, and in so far as I am not, the opportunity for growth will occur.

The wall is coming down... I look forward to seeing what's on the other side...