Oscar Wilde seems to have been right when he said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all”.
For most people, we would estimate over 80%, the difference between a rut and a grave is only a matter of depth. Leaders are people who live, who “experience” life, who have learnt how to create “kairos” moments when the minute becomes a moment and which lasts joyfully in their memories for aeons. Leaders tell these kairos stories and they seem to have a steady source of real energy – not hype. There is balance in their lives.
They are constantly creating and discovering. They connect with people around them in authentic relationships. They belong to groups or teams that have a worthy purpose. They are patriots, optimists and they challenge the rules but live by their solid honest principles. They live happily and comfortably in a paradoxical world. They know that it is easy to count the number of seeds in an apple but are challenged, at the same time, to reflect upon the number of apples there could be in every seed. They have their feet firmly on the ground – they are realists – but at the same time their heads are in the clouds dreaming of what might just be possible. They see the world as a fantastic place with many versions of the truth so they are constantly learning and growing. They see the world as both finite and infinite and so they stretch everything that can be stretched and steward those things that are scarce. The world is both friendly and unfriendly and they handle situations with a confident flexibility. They see all humans, like all things, as unique, never to be copied or repeated and are fascinated by diversity instead of consumed by a world of continued superiority or inferiority.
For them the world is a vast network of interconnectivity, not a dog eat dog world of independence and constant competition, and they don’t often find it necessary to use power over others. Though they have authority they seldom need to use it coercively. As Stephen Covey would observe : they “live, love, learn and leave a legacy”. Einstein said it a little differently. “Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.” They are at peace with themselves. They are making good progress on the journey to becoming real. They have dumped almost all of their baggage and they know how to simply be happy. Work is play for them and play is plentiful. And, quite predictably, they attract and hold high energy followers. It is the leadership we teach and we teach it in the context of Africa :
- against a background of old African culture – ubuntu, indaba, umphakathi and seriti
- against a backdrop of Nature with its superb models of diversity and symbiosis
- using the common sense of Stephen Covey
- in awe of how New Science, equipped with extraordinarily powerful microscopes, telescopes and computers, is validating what Old Cultures and Nature have known all along.
Such leadership and zest for living may be rare, but isn’t difficult to teach …. or to learn.
“And yet, I know artists whose medium is Life itself, and who express the inexpressible without brush, pencil, chisel or guitar. They neither paint nor dance. Their medium is Being. Whatever their hand touches has increased life. They SEE and don’t have to draw. They are the artists of being alive.”
The Zen of Seeing, by Frederick Frank
Do you recognize some areas in yourself or your team that need improvement? Email Adriaan on firstname.lastname@example.org for more on creating “Leadership Fit” leaders that generate successful movement (performance) inside your organisation.