Warrior For The Human Spirit
I had a blog post all written for this final week before the holidays. But after Friday, I just couldn’t post it. Alongside so many of you, I’m heartsick, shocked, and depressed. As a parent of two elementary school kids, the Newtown tragedy has taken over my thoughts as I search for a “why” and a “how can we protect against this?” It’s unlikely either question will be answered sufficiently.
Instead, I thought I would share something with you that’s been co-inhabiting my thoughts this week, and providing a bit of comfort and very needed perspective.
On Friday morning I was sitting in the Georgetown Alumni Coaching conference in Baltimore, listening to author and change theorist Meg Wheatley speak. We were gathered with optimism, as the university is launching The Institute for Transformational Leadership. It’s a bold initiative to teach leadership qualities to a wide community, focusing on skills that transform organizations and lives: vision, courage, creativity, presence, reflection, strategic thinking, entrepreneurship, and coaching, to name a few.
We happened to be at the conference about a month later than planned, the event having been postponed due to Hurricane Sandy. And there we were, unknowing at the time, in the middle of another tragedy of a very different kind with its own acute suffering.
In this troubled context, it struck me that Meg’s message was all the more poignant. Meg has spent her career examining organizations and communities and how they adapt to manage change and complexity. In her latest book, So Far From Home, she takes a different turn, as she explains on her web site:
“For me personally, this is the most important book I’ve yet written. It describes how we ended up in this world that no one wants, a harsh, destructive world that’s emerged in spite of our best efforts to change it…After probing deeply into this darkening world, I invite us to consciously choose a new role for ourselves, that of warriors for the human spirit. (The term “warrior” is used from the Tibetan tradition of “one who is brave,” brave enough to never use aggression, whose only “weapons” are compassion and insight.) As warriors for the human spirit, we discover our right work, work that is ours to do no matter what. We engage wholeheartedly, embody values we cherish, let go of outcomes, and be vigilant with our relationships. We learn how to persevere, to remain focused and confident in service to the issues and people we care about, focused not so much on making a difference as on being a difference.“
With the rescheduled dates, Meg had to deliver her talk via video, which has the upside of being able to be shared widely. She’s frank, irreverent, compassionate, pushy, and provocative. Watch for yourself:
As I spend the holidays with my family, and find some space to reflect, I’m keeping Meg’s ideas of being an oasis of sanity and a warrior for the human spirit, close. The complexity of our world makes it seem as if we can never do enough to change it, and this can be the most defeating reality we face. However, as Meg says and models, we can be a difference any time we choose to.
Thank you for reading my blog this year, and for your comments, emails, tweets, and support. My wish is for you to relax, reflect, and embrace the joy in your relationships through the holidays. I don’t feel much like a warrior right now, but I’m hopeful.
I’ll meet you in the new year, ready to be back in the battle for the good. Meg’s words are keeping me company in the meantime.
Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach, speaker and author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. Find her at kristihedges.com and @kristihedges.
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