In today’s world the mainstream concept of leadership may no longer have the relevance it once did and certainly does not seem to be serving us well. It has its roots in the paradigm of individualism which gives preference to individual action over the collective. Mainstream thought seems fixated on the idea that if individuals can master certain skills and a series of defined actions that people will do as the leader wishes – follow-the-leader thinking. And further, that individuals are solely responsible for everything in their lives including their own situations. The world ‘leader’ invokes hierarchy, which positions some people, their abilities and impact above others, and often takes little or no account for the influence of place, time, history, or the dynamic of the relationship among things.
This can be very troublesome. We just need to look around the world and our short human history to see the pitfalls of this popular model of ‘leadership’, whether in government, private industry, or religious organisations. Individualism allows, and even encourages, leaders to collect power as, what they may perceive to be the only way of being able to influence the world. And sadly we often turn over our rights to them and choose to believe in their ways, giving many a cult-like following and therefore influence to shape the world.
In this traditional model everything and everyone has edges, everything is singular. This is a place where one thing ends and another begins – us and them, this and that. Parts are defined. Everything is thought of as separate and apart. Words like impact and force are commonly used to describe how to change the world. Often change is thought of as immediate and complete rather than shifting over time.
In the relational framework that I’m proposing, leadership stems from our ability to be aware of how the world shifts for us, against as, and with us as we learn ways to use the superpowers we each hold. It does not favour the individual over the collective but in fact draws its strength and potency to influence the world through the active relationships that exist, that connection among all mono (things) , including people.
My invitation is to enter the nebulous, foggy, and unclear space in between things – to step into the place where edges no longer exist, where time seems slower, where it’s impossible to see where one thing ends and another begins, if indeed we can even use the concepts of beginning and ending. It is here that we as individuals exist, tightly coupled to core relationships with place, people, history, beliefs, and things… and secondarily coupled to relationships of those – in a vast web of interconnected singulars at the same time existing as plural. (Nancy, 1996)
In this place of relational existence, we are dependant on everything around us, sentient or not for our very identity and ability to act in the world. This is the place where our superpowers work, where we can exercise our skills, practice our influence, shift the future, and find new ways of being in this world. It’s the place where time is limitless and the moments extend with possibility. This is where the magic happens, not the kind that is full of illusion but the kind of real miraculous change. The kind of magic that is open to everyone who wishes to consciously evolve.
Imagine as we stand here in this moment that we can see how things interact with one another, how power and change move through the web, how change happens, and how we come to be who we believe we are. We can test our ideas, see how they shift the future timeline, our identity and the identities of those around us. We can see how the things we say and do, the words and symbols we use, the things we create alter everything around us, not only for ourselves but with every relationship. Other’s worlds change as a result of our being. As we become everything around us becomes.
Our first and perhaps most important task is to bridge our conscious everyday world of doing with this place where we can see and feel how our actions will change things in relation to us. In the midst of today’s chaos and a world that is moving and changing at an unbelievable pace, it’s easy to be swept away, so much so it may seem impossible to find time to do anything differently.
This invitation is to pay attention to a skill you already have, to stop at any moment no matter how short it may seem and cross the bridge. Stop, slow down time for yourself and the world. Give yourself enough time to consider other possibilities and ways of acting that could lead to the best outcome for you and all of us.
When we decide to use our innate bridge, we have access to exercise and use our superpowers.
Practice this skill to slow down a moment instead of reacting with the ‘stop, drop, and roll’ instinct you’ve learned to embody. Notice whatever feeling you have welling up inside of you, and instead of going down the same path you have in the past almost instinctively, consider other options to describe that feeling. Instead of anger maybe it’s curiosity, instead of anxiety perhaps it’s fear, or excitement, or passion. Play it in the future, see what it might look like if you choose something different. Instead of reacting, pause, practice and chose something that leads to a future you’d most appreciate.
Using your superpower to choose in the moment is one of the first skill to achieving more positive influence in the world. Later I will explore how you might build yourself a material hook during these moments in the space in between to help you anchor yourself in more positive way in the world for now… feel, pause, notice, play things out, choose. Experience how your work changes your future for the better.