“Most of us move about with very narrow perception, sight, sound, smell, tactile and we miss most of the grandeur that is in the minutest thing, the smallest experience,” writes Robert Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader.
We also miss leadership opportunities.
“A qualification for leadership,” Robert writes, “is that one can tolerate a sustained wide span of awareness so that [we] better see it as it is.'”
So far this week we’ve explored how going out ahead to show the way is the essence of leadership. This capability requires us as leaders to be open to inspiration which means we must live with a heightened sense of awareness.
“When one is aware,” Robert writes, “there is more than the usual alertness, more intense contact with the immediate situation, and more is stored away in the unconscious computer to produce intuitive insights in the future when needed.”
Living this way is not for everyone.
“Awareness is not a giver of solace it is just the opposite,” writes Robert. “It is a disturber and an awakener. Able leaders are usually sharply awake and reasonably disturbed. They are not seekers after solace. They have their own inner serenity.”
For those of us who aspire to leadership, Robert reminds us of the importance of cultivating and living by a core set of values.
“A leader must have more of an armor of confidence in facing the unknown—more than those who accept his or her leadership. This is partly anticipation and preparation, but it is also a very firm belief that in the stress of real-life situations one can compose oneself in a way that permits the creative process to operate.”
Living with a heightened sense of awareness has its risks, Robert tells us. But it makes life more interesting and certainly strengthens our effectiveness as leaders.
Reflection: What stands in the way of me becoming more aware?
Action: Be intentional about being more aware today.