Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In my humble opinion...

which usually prefaces a statement that really means "I'm right and you're a dunderhead!"  I recognize that not everyone shares my sometimes skewed thought processes so I offer my opinions with the full knowledge that some might disagree.  That's cool.  I don't mind discourse and debate - just as long as we can agree to disagree without rancor or name-calling.

The current climate in our country - maybe even across the globe - is full of disagreement and disagreeable people.  There is no discourse or debate.  "If I want your opinion I'll give it to you."  But I'm not going to discuss the current economic crisis, the Tea Party-ers, or the rabid "platform only - who cares about the people" politics.   I'm not even going to discuss religion versus spirituality, although I certainly have opinions about all of that.

As an aside I've decided that I'm not completely left, socialist, anarchist, or new age. I am most definitely not a right wing, fundamentalist, religious zealot. But I'm not a moderate, either.  I think I'm a hybrid.  I believe in Christian principles yet I refuse to align myself with what is being passed off as Christianity today.  I think if Jesus were here (physically - not going to get into the "he's always with us" debate) today I  think he'd be doing more than weeping.  I think he'd be leading the revolution against those who insist on perpetrating violence and hate in his name! I believe that he'd be knocking a few heads together and saying "Stop it - go sit in your corner and don't come out until you can play nice in the sandbox!"  The sad thing is that the very people to whom this might be addressed will automatically assume it's directed elsewhere.  That's part of the problem - no accountability.  No personal responsibility.  Ah well... time to move in a different direction.  I'm feeling my blood pressure rise.

Today I am thinking about leadership and what it does not mean.  So many in leadership positions seem to believe that in order to lead they have to be above those they lead.  Whether that is a physical, fiscal, emotional, or philosophical position, the divide is obvious.  The chasm is wide and getting wider.  Whatever the industry, many of those who rise to power positions tend to forget in short order from whence they came.  I am being very careful not to use "always" or "never" language because I know some of the exceptions to the norm.  Thankfully.  But I also know some folks who epitomize this as well.  Some figures are well known - politicians, religious leaders, CEOs of major corporations (especially financial and energy corporations).  Some are lesser known folks who circle around my own little, tiny world.  Some of these "leaders" are well respected on the surface.  They have an uncanny knack for making people believe that they actually care about them.  However, if you sit back and observe...just watch and listen... you see the smile never goes beyond the lips.  The words of encouragement and support are never deeper than the veneer on your counter top.  Little is done or said or felt that is not carefully calculated and, in some way, self-serving.  Yet followers lap up the little doses of attention and feel special when the leader knows their names.  They feel blessed and important - called to a higher cause - all because of the leader's charisma and charm.

Am I just being cynical?  Are you thinking, as you read this, "oh... she's been passed over or ignored by someone and is feeling jealous"?  Maybe you're right.  Maybe I'm not as self-aware as I like to believe.  Maybe I really am paranoid and spinning my own version of conspiracy theory.  Ok... I really don't think so. I'm not crazy and I'm not paranoid, and I am certainly not jealous.  I am sad.  I am saddened by the fallout that happens to friends and colleagues when they try to stand up to this sort of tyranny and get slapped down; are told to sit down and shut up.  I am mostly sad that this has made most of us afraid. Many of us who do have something to say, something to offer, some vision of a way to peacefully coexist and improve our lives and surroundings sit silently by as our world - personal or global - turns to crap because we abhor confrontation and are afraid of being the lone voice of reason amid the cacophony of hateful shouting.  We have seen what happens to profits and decide the risk is too great to jump in front of the train.

Most of us just want to lead quiet, comfortable, and content lives - making a difference where we can and living simply with those we love close by.  Is that really too much to ask?  Is it too much to ask that our leaders - political, religious, and corporate - take off their blinders and see how much easier their jobs would be if we moved forward to a true sense of collaboration instead of backwards to the feudal system of old?

There's a leadership curriculum that I had the good fortune to teach a few years ago that endorsed that the only way to be a true leader is to adopt a servant leader attitude by collaborating with every level of the work force and involving every mind.  By recognizing that everyone within an organization is a leader in some way and by looking to them for solutions instead of seeing the workforce as a liability increases buy-in and loyalty.  Fear is not the way to lead.  Fear is not the way to get the best out of people.  Fear manifests as prejudice, ignorance, and hate which leads to anger which leads to violence which leads to - fear.  It is a perpetual spiral into the darkness we are feeling  so keenly in every single pore of our existence.

My friend, Tiehead, is a creator.  He is also a leader-extraordinaire.  His voice has been silenced a few times but he tends to challenge the thinker (the non-thinker doesn't get his stuff!) to rise about the mundane and tired/tried methods into the clouds of risk and innovation.  He is my hero.  I cannot imagine that he would ever sell out his colleagues for self-preservation.  I want to clone him.  Yet only as his alter-self can he utter his own musings with total candor.  His "known" persona (I won't say "true" because I think his "alter" is his "true" self most of the time) tends to use metaphors and mirrors in order to make a point.  I don't think it's fear, per se, but maybe some trepidation that he'd anger the "leaders" who can't see past their own shoelaces.  Yet, he does challenge us to think beyond the confines of our small boxes in ways that could possibly make those who want to keep us in those boxes very uncomfortable.  I like it.  I appreciate it and wish I had more of his chutzpah!

Was there a point to all this musing?  There was when I started.  I'm not sure I remember what it was. Oh yeah... this rambling was really a not-so-clever attempt to share my thoughts about the predicament into which another one of my friend's has landed.  I've carefully tried to paint my opinions and comments with very broad strokes to avoid making this too obvious.  I've probably succeeded in being too obtuse.  Oh well.  This is mostly for my own enjoyment anyway.  I have no grand delusions that I actually have a readership!  However, should you read this and recognize yourself or someone else - please feel free to comment.  No matter on which side of the aisle you find yourself sitting.  And while you're at it - say a prayer or send up positive thoughts and energy that more people like Marianne Williamson, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Louise Hay, and Tiehead will continue to emerge from the shadows and speak words of peace and wisdom.


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