A person becomes calm in the measure that they understand themselves to be a thought-evolved being. They develop a right understanding and see, more and more clearly, the internal relation of things, ceasing to fuss and fume, instead remaining poised, steadfast, serene.
They, in turn, reverence their strength, feeling they can learn from them and rely upon them. Their success, their influence, their power for good. Like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land.
Adapted from “As a Man Thinketh: Serenity”, James Allen.
To help me articulate a point here, do this for me: take a long, deep breath in. Hold it. And release. Slowly.
Why am I asking you to do this?
Because when I think of the very best leaders I’ve worked for, although they didn’t actually ask me to do that, in their presence and in that moment, that is how they made me feel. Like we were cocooned in the space and able to relax into a conversation that generated clarity, spirit and a burning desire to get going on the current project.
This kind of focused leadership is rare.
Why? Because when faced with the demands of the workplace, “focused leadership” most often turns into something intense and hardcore. It’s rushed. And it’s forced. And it thinks it’s getting things done, but really, it’s just damaging relationships and results.
Most leaders and managers are like this.
They’re rush, rush, rush. They’re multitasking. They’re swamped. They’re doing 100 things a day – most of them badly, if they’re honest with themselves.
And all because the belief is: this is what’s required. It’s crazy around here, so this is what it takes. And when they notice what’s happening, their reaction (notice: “reaction”, not “response”) is to speed up even more!
But work is not the problem. I am the problem.
And as a member of my team, you only ever get the message that everything else is more important than me. And before I know it, you and others are feeling demotivated, disenfranchised and ready to leave. And I don’t know why.
I am why.
The most powerful leadership quality
The rare (and most powerful) form of “focused leadership” we’re looking for is quite the opposite. It’s a relaxed focus. Not forced but free-flowing. Not rushed but settled. Not closed but wide-open.
And in its presence, I feel REASSURANCE.
One of the most powerful leadership qualities that the literature almost never talks about. And to check its power: consider the alternative. What does that leadership look like? (If we can call that leadership.)
And so, I want to ask myself:
- How am I doing with my focus?
- When someone in my team comes to talk to me, am I really there?
- And am I rehearsing my responses or am I really listening?
- And when we conclude, are we complete or did we just finish?
Try this: 20 times a day, have your Spirited Self say to your Leadership Self: “SLOW DOWN”. Before the next meeting: “slow down”. Before the next client call: “slow down”. Before the next staff 1-2-1: “slow down”.
And have your leadership, as an experience for the other person, be nothing but reassurance.