Me in the Middle of Leadership Part III (Reblog)

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 The past ten months of the presidency under the current administration has left many exasperated and alarmed about where we’re heading as a country.  Last year, when I decided to do this Leadership series, I was getting increasingly alarmed as the campaign for Election 2016 was drawing to a close.  What kind of Leadership does the United States of America need during these critical times?  Each of the three posts are long yet provocative and inspiring.  (You can read the comments on the original post 10/2016 Part III HERE

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 This is the third post on what qualities make a good Leader  The first ~ What Kind of Leadership is Needed for Our Time by Heather Plett ~ looked at Leaders as Host rather than Leaders as Heroes.  The second ~ Are We Winners or Losers by Arthur Rashap ~ looked at winning and losing and how to play life’s infinite game. 

My good intentions have been not to get political on this blog.  I hope to explore these qualities without picking a particular candidate or bashing a particular candidate.  It seems the campaign season here in America has gotten way off track.  It’s become almost impossible to explore what Leadership means much less what kind of Leadership America needs at this time.
Today I’ve chosen a post by Andrea Schulman @ www.raiseyourvibrationtoday.com.   I’d love to hear what you think about Andrea’s thoughts on Ego and the qualities to look for in our Leaders.
“To the ego mind, there is no connection. There are only winners and losers, and the ego desperately wants to win.”
“Put your ego in the passenger seat to enjoy the ride of life, but let your higher perspective do the driving. Everything is going to be just fine in the end.”

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9 Ways to Check Your Ego When It’s Out of Control

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By Andrea Schulman | Raise Your Vibration Today 

Do you worry that you may be ego-driven? It happens to most of us at some point, so you aren’t alone!

To understand if you are ego-driven, it can help to understand what your ego is. The ego isn’t who you are, but rather it is just a fragment of your consciousness.

What is the ego?

See, there are several aspects that make up who you are as a conscious being.  One, is the loving light that makes up your soul. This is the part of you that is strongly connected to the divine (and therefore connected to every other being as well).

The other, is your ego, or the mask you wear that tells you that you are different from others.  Your ego is your self-image in this physical reality. Because the ego observes your separation from others, it is often the part of you that seeks to protect you from others, rather than connect you with them.

The ego isn’t a “bad” thing, and it isn’t something you should try to get rid of. In fact, your ego does serve a very powerful purpose. It allows you to perceive the world from a unique, differentiated perspective. Without the ego, it would probably be pretty hard to root down into this physical world, and have this experience as a separate, human consciousness.

When an ego is out of control.

With that being said, sometimes the ego does a lot more of the driving in life than is useful. An ego-driven person frequently pushes down the higher, loving aspect of him or herself and allows the ego to take primary control.

The ego-driven person usually measures his or herself from a competitive viewpoint.  For this reason, ego-driven people are often in hot pursuit of being ” “stronger than,” “smarter than,” “richer than” or some other element of “better than” other people. 

This is born out of the desire to protect the self, but left unchecked the ego-self can become a tyrant. An out-of-control ego forgets entirely about the importance of unity, love and our ability to connect with others in meaningful and fulfilling ways.

To the ego mind, there is no connection. There are only winners and losers, and the ego desperately wants to win.

How to check your ego when it’s out of control.

So, what do you do when you feel your competitive ego taking more control over your life than you’d like? How do you check your ego, and allow more of your love and kindness to shine through?

Here are 9 easy ways to check your ego. Next time you find yourself caught up in the rat race of “winners and losers” try one of them out!

1. Remember, we’re not all perfect.

The ego is quick to point out other people’s mistakes and missteps. When you find yourself judging the actions of others, understand that is the ego at play. Step back into the loving aspect of yourself by remembering that you make mistakes too, and you appreciate it when people love you in spite of them.

2. Remind yourself that people often act out when they are hurting.

There’s nothing more annoying to an ego-driven person than another ego-driven person! However, it’s possible to check your ego even in the presence of someone else who is fully ego-driven. Just remember that those who are ego-driven are often acting out of fear or pain. Their competitive natures are typically driven by the threats they perceive from the outside world. When people are hurting or scared, they often step into the ego-self for protection.

3. List out the things that are most important to you in life.

Think about what you want to look back on when you are on your deathbed. The achievements and experiences you ultimately wish to have will likely resonate much more strongly with your higher self than with your ego.

4. Practice gratitude for the things you already have.

The ego is more concerned with what he or she doesn’t have, as again, the ego is very worried about coming up short. Gratitude reminds you of all of the ways you are supported and abundant, and therefore have no reason to worry about losing.

5. Think back on a time someone showed you they really loved you.

Looking back on loving memories is an excellent way to connect back into your higher self. Just thinking about being connected in love is often enough to tap you in to your higher knowing.

6. Help someone less fortunate than yourself.

Helping those less fortunate than yourself reminds you that you really don’t like for people to lose in life. The loving aspect of yourself wants everyone to win. When one of us loses, we all lose!

7. Give someone a long hug.

The simple act of connecting with another person in a loving manner can help bring you back into resonance with the loving aspects of yourself.

8. Meditate, to center back into the loving part of yourself.

The ego thrives on mental clutter and fearful, worrisome thoughts. Clear out the mental clutter with meditation.

9. Play devil’s advocate for the people you are arguing with or competing against.

Why might they be right? Why might it be good for them to “win” instead of you? Playing devil’s advocate allows you to connect with another person’s perspective, rather than separate from it.

Keep your perspective as high as possible, but respect your ego too!

Remember, we all have an ego, and that’s ok. You aren’t supposed to be without an ego, and it does serve a very powerful and important purpose. Without an ego, it’s unlikely that we would have a separate sense of self in this human experience.

The ego makes the game of life a lot more exciting and interesting. An ego allows you  to view reality like a movie, with you getting to be one of the characters.

With that being said, a life driven entirely by the ego can be a very sad and unfortunate one. Our ability to connect, to love, and to laugh together is what makes this human experience so wonderful and enjoyable. When we allow our egos to take control in life, we disconnect from the most satisfying elements of life. It’s like we forget it’s all just a movie, and we take things much more seriously than we need to.

A life driven entirely by the ego is one filled with pain, anger and frustration.

You are infinite and eternal, and everything is going to be ok.

Ultimately, we are connected to every being on the planet, and beyond. We are all connected to an infinite source consciousness. In fact we all ultimately ARE infinite source consciousness.

This means, in the end, there is nothing to fear, and nothing we need protection from. Everything that makes up this universe is us, and we it.

This reality is simply a platform we’ve created to play around in and experience. The threats our ego perceive exist only in the illusion that is this physical reality.  All of the struggle, and all of the pain is just a part of the ride. It isn’t anything we really need protection from, in the end, as it is our own creation.

Again, it’s just like watching a movie. There’s a lot more going on when the show’s over! See yourself as a character in the movie, enjoying the ride, but keep that inner knowing that you are connected to something far greater than this individual life experience. 

Remember, we’re all in this together. We are all one, therefore we are all actually safe as infinite, eternal beings. Your ego will try to get you to forget this, but your higher perspective knows this well.

Put your ego in the passenger seat to enjoy the ride of life, but let your higher perspective do the driving. Everything is going to be just fine in the end.

XO, Andrea

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Steve Winwood ~ Higher Love

 

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Me in the Middle of Leadership Part II (Reblog)

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The past ten months of the presidency under the current administration has left many exasperated and alarmed about where we’re heading as a country.  Last year, when I decided to do this Leadership series, I was getting increasingly alarmed as the campaign for Election 2016 was drawing to a close.  What kind of Leadership does the United States of America need during these critical times?  Each of the three posts are long yet provocative and inspiring.  (You can read the comments on the original post 10/2016 Part II HERE)

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This is the second post on what qualities make a good Leader.  The first ~ What Kind of Leadership is Needed for Our Time by Heather Plett ~ looked at Leaders as Host rather than Leaders as Heroes.
My good intentions have been not to get political on this blog.  I hope to explore these qualities without picking a particular candidate or bashing a particular candidate.  It seems the campaign season here in America has gotten way off track.  It’s become almost impossible to explore what Leadership means much less what kind of Leadership America needs at this time.
Today I’ve chosen a post by Arthur Rashapwww.promiseamericaindicator.com.   I’d love to hear what you think of Arthur’s definition of Winners or Losers and the qualities to look for in our Leaders.

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“Our society is replete today with a focus on winning. Rather than focusing on informing the public about positions, possibilities and programs, the candidates for public office (and the office holders once elected or appointed) seek attention and headlines by playing the game of personal invective and catering to their ‘fans.’ They make promises to attract contributions and votes, promises that they hope will get them to the “winner’s circle.” The media and the ‘reporters’ and pundits are obsessed with looking to see who “won” a debate, or who is winning their election ‘game’ as is predicted by the daily polls that get changed more often than the diaper of a six month old. We get a break-down of the supporters for the players in such games – which ends up creating substantial animosity between the groups.”

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ARE WE WINNERS OR LOSERS?

  •  “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing”UCLA Bruins Football Coach Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders (not Vince Lombardi who did use this).
  • “It’s not that you won or lost, but how you played the game” – Grandland Rice.
  • The most important thing . . . is not winning but taking part”Pierre de Cubetin, Modern Olympic Creed.

Somewhere in the evolution of humans the concept of winning and losing – of being a winner or a loser – came into play. Think of the consequences of that concept: wars; slavery; sexism; discrimination of all kinds; the great disparity in income and assets; power being lodged in the hands of a few; ageism, and on and on.

There have been societies where the concept of equality reigns. There are societies where humans regard themselves as just being a part of the overall ecosystem with all living things support each other. The societies in today’s world have been largely minimized by “progress” and the taming and exploitation of the environment for those at the top of the food chain – we the modern day humans.

The underpinnings of religion aren’t involved with winners and losers: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Don’t beat them into the ground and exploit them for your own benefit. The examples set by those who have been the founders and acknowledged leaders of religions and spiritual movements – the way they lived their lives – demonstrated that they honored and helped all peoples, not singling out winners and losers. The sermons delivered weekly to congregations by their religious leaders ring high and mighty about being kind, generous, live simply– and how to live our lives according to these words is too often left in the sanctuary as the congregants file out.

Powell Davis, a prolific author of theological books and sermon collections, who came to national prominence in the U.S. through his liberal activism advocating civil rights for African-Americans and women and ethical stands against post-war nuclear proliferation and the methods employed by the American government during the era of McCarthyism, noted in this vein: “So far as I can see, all the great leaders—and the great exemplars of religion—possessed faith in life’s essence, in its hidden meaning, in its moral claim, and in the rightness of its inner spiritual guidance. And by this the great ones lived their lives. So must we. There are no problems greater than our power to solve them. There are no burdens greater than our strength. We shape—by every moment of our lives—the great decisions. Then let us venture still!”

Our society is replete today with a focus on winning. Rather than focusing on informing the public about positions, possibilities and programs, the candidates for public office (and the office holders once elected or appointed) seek attention and headlines by playing the game of personal invective and catering to their ‘fans.’ They make promises to attract contributions and votes, promises that they hope will get them to the “winner’s circle.” The media and the ‘reporters’ and pundits are obsessed with looking to see who “won” a debate, or who is winning their election ‘game’ as is predicted by the daily polls that get changed more often than the diaper of a six month old. We get a break-down of the supporters for the players in such games – which ends up creating substantial animosity between the groups.

And, isn’t all of this mostly a narcissistic ploy with one object – to be a winner, and leave all the others behind! So, look in the mirror, look to your left and your right, look around at all those who people your life, understand who is supporting the standard raised that our goal in life, our goal from the time we are old enough to go out and kick a ball, is to be a winner. That part of us – our ego – whose prime purpose is to provide protection so we don’t step off the curb and get hit by a bus wants to ‘win’ the game of who is in control of ‘us.’ It thrives and grows with all the accouterments of being a winner and does its best to take over to drive toward that goal and result.

Substantial awards – monetary for those who are “professionals” – are awarded to winners. Those players who are playing the infinite game, who complement their opponents, who are courteous and caring, who are observed doing the best that they can do in their current human condition, fall mostly in the category of “losers.”

What would happen if games were played in the context that they are all – in the end – part of the “Game of Life.” We are in it to play, to perpetuate the game, to do the best we can at the level of being part of the “ONE” of all life?

We are told that those who kill more of their enemies than the other side become ‘winners.’ This last century, there were well over 100 wars and many more than that number of conflicts that involved loss of life let alone damage to property and the environment. That then results in lots of “losers” – particularly in contests where there are one or several winners and many more non-winners or losers. Our views and rhetoric in politics, in sports, in relationships – in pretty much everything we ‘do’ are structured (too often) by this concept of winners and losers.

I would like to lift up the concepts advanced by James P. Carse, in a little book published in 1986 entitled: Finite and Infinite Games. His Chapter 1: “There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the game. Carse, who was a Professor of Religion at New York University and winner of the University’s Great Teacher Award, concludes the book in Chapter 100: “Infinite players are not serious actors in any story, but the joyful poets of a story that continues to originate what they cannot finish.” Then there is Chapter 101: “THERE IS BUT ONE INFINITE GAME.”

If, indeed, “We the People” are interconnected and understand that we are all part of the same gift of life and all are here to share and preserve the gifts we have been given and that one of our obligations and/or opportunities is to help advance the quality of life – life for all, – then it would seem that playing each and all games as if each and all were in and playing the Game of Life, with the understanding that the ‘bottom line’ of the game – whatever it may be – is to play and do the best you can do at that time and at that place.

If, because of our history, our education,

If, because of our DNA and evolutionary impulse,

If, because it does feel good to be declared special,

If, because to be heard and have our ideas for the greater good advanced,

If, because it is valuable to have our egos satisfied,

If we are willing to sacrifice much of what exists on this planet and perhaps elsewhere –

Then keep playing the finite game.

But how about taking a step back, opening your mind, heart and soul . . . and reprogramming to play the infinite game? Go on, it really is fun.

 Arthur Rashap

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The Power of the Dream

Me in the Middle of Leadership Part I (Reblog)

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The past ten months of the presidency under the current administration has left many exasperated and alarmed about where we’re heading as a country.  Last year, when I decided to do this Leadership series, I was getting increasingly alarmed as the campaign for Election 2016 was drawing to a close.  What kind of Leadership does the United States of America need during these critical times?  Each of the three posts are long yet provocative and inspiring.  Beginning with Part I, I’d like to invite you to comment below on this critical question (You can read the comments on the original post 10/2016 HERE.) :

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This post, along with my next two posts, is going to help me explore my thoughts about what qualities make a good leader.

My good intentions have been not to get political on this blog.  I hope to explore these qualities without picking a particular candidate or bashing a particular candidate.  It seems the campaign season here in America has gotten way off track.  It’s become almost impossible to explore what Leadership means much less what kind of Leadership America needs at this time.

Today I’ve chosen a post by Heather Plett @ www.heatherplett.com.   I’d love to hear what you think of Heather’s definition of Leadership and the qualities to look for in that person.

“We need leaders – at ALL levels of our governments, institutions, communities, and families – who can dance with complexity, play with possibility, and sit with their fear. We need leaders who can navigate the darkness. We need leaders who can hold seemingly opposing views and not lose sight of the space in between. We need leaders who know how to hold liminal space.” 

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What kind of leadership is needed for our time?
By Heather Plett ~ www.heatherplett.com

“Can’t you just give us clear direction so we know what’s expected of us?” That question was asked of me ten years ago by a staff person who was frustrated with my collaborative style of leadership. He didn’t want collaboration – he simply wanted direction and clarity and top-down decision making.

What I read between the lines was this: “It makes me feel more safe when I know what’s expected of me.” And maybe a little of this: “If you’re the one making decisions and giving directions, I don’t have to share any collective responsibility. If anything goes wrong, I can blame the boss and walk away with my reputation intact.”

I didn’t change my leadership style, but it made me curious about what different people want from leadership and why. While that staff person was expressing a desire for more direction, others on my team were asking for more autonomy and decision-making power. It seemed impossible to please everyone.

I’ve been thinking back to that conversation lately as I watch the incredulous rise to power of Donald Trump. No matter how many sexist comments he makes, no matter how many people with disabilities he makes fun of, and no matter how many small business owners he cheated, his support base remains remarkably solid. As he himself has said, he “could shoot someone and not lose votes”. (I’m glad I’m no longer teaching a course on public relations, because he’s breaking all of the “rules” I used to teach and getting away with it.)

It seems implausible that this could happen, but this article on Trump’s appeal to authoritarian personalities helps me make sense of it. 

“‘Trump’s electoral strength — and his staying power — have been buoyed, above all, by Americans with authoritarian inclinations,” political scientist Matthew MacWilliams wrote in Politico. In an online poll of 1,800 Americans, conducted in late December, he found an authoritarian mindset — that is, belief in absolute obedience to authority — was the sole “statistically significant variable” that predicted support for Trump.”

“Authoritarians obey,” says the author of the study, “They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened.”

Authoritarians hold strong values around safety, and they expect a leader to give them what they need. They don’t mind following a bully, as long as that bully is serving THEIR needs for security. Hence the popularity of Trump’s proposals to build a wall on the Mexican border and to keep Muslims from entering the country. They might even put up with some of the bullying directed at people like them (hence the surprising tolerance of Trump’s behaviour among his female supporters) if it means those who threaten them are kept at bay. Take, for example, the times when Trump told security to throw the protesters out of the places where he was campaigning – he made his supporters feel safe because he was roughing up “the enemy”.

Where does an authoritarian mindset come from? According to the article quoted above, there is evidence that it is passed down from one generation to the next. Religious views can also play a strong role. Those who were conditioned by upbringing and religion to obey the authority figures at all cost are more likely to vote for someone who reflects that kind of leadership. If you grew up never allowed to question authority, no matter how illogical or unbalanced it might seem, then you are more likely to have an authoritarian mindset.

There is also a correlation with how fearful a person tends to be. Those who are, due to personality and/or conditioning, frequently motivated by fear, will be more inclined to trust authoritarian leaders because that’s what makes them feel more safe.

Does it matter that some of us prefer authoritarian leadership over other styles? Shouldn’t the rest of us simply adapt a “live and let live” attitude about it and not try to change people? Don’t we all have a right to our own opinions?

Though I am deeply committed to holding space for people in a non-judgemental way (and I tried to create that environment when I was leading the people I mentioned above) I am convinced that it DOES matter. Yes, we should respect and listen without judgement to those who look for authoritarianism, and we should seek to understand their fear, but that doesn’t mean that we should allow their fear and social conditioning to make major decisions about who leads us and how we are lead. That authoritarian mindset is a sign of an immature society and it is holding us back. It must be challenged for the sake of our future.

Around the same time as my staff person asked for more authoritarian leadership from me, I was immersing myself in progressive teachings on leadership such as The Circle Way, The Art of Hosting, and Theory U. These methodologies teach that there is a “leader in every chair”, that the “wisdom comes from within the circle”, and that “the future is emerging and not under our control”. Though these models can (and do) function within hierarchical structures, they teach us to value the wisdom and leadership at ALL levels of the hierarchy.

Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze (two people I had the pleasure of studying with in my quest for a deeper understanding about leadership), in this article on Leadership in the Age of Complexity and in their book Walk Out Walk On, say that it is time to move from “leader as hero” to “leader as host”. 

“For too long, too many of us have been entranced by heroes. Perhaps it’s our desire to be saved, to not have to do the hard work, to rely on someone else to figure things out. Constantly we are barraged by politicians presenting themselves as heroes, the ones who will fix everything and make our problems go away. It’s a seductive image, an enticing promise. And we keep believing it. Somewhere there’s someone who will make it all better. Somewhere, there’s someone who’s visionary, inspiring, brilliant, trustworthy, and we’ll all happily follow him or her.”

This style of leadership may have served humanity during a simpler time, but that time is past. Now we are faced with so much complexity that we cannot rely on an outdated style of leadership.

“Heroic leadership rests on the illusion that someone can be in control. Yet we live in a world of complex systems whose very existence means they are inherently uncontrollable. No one is in charge of our food systems. No one is in charge of our schools. No one is in charge of the environment. No one is in charge of national security. No one is in charge! These systems are emergent phenomena—the result of thousands of small, local actions that converged to create powerful systems with properties that may bear little or no resemblance to the smaller actions that gave rise to them. These are the systems that now dominate our lives; they cannot be changed by working backwards, focusing on only a few simple causes.  And certainly they cannot be changed by the boldest visions of our most heroic leaders.”

Instead of a hero, we need a host. A leader-as-host knows that problems are complex and that in order to understand the full complexity of any issue, all parts of the system need to be invited in to participate and contribute. “These leaders‐as‐hosts are candid enough to admit that they don’t know what to do; they realize that it’s sheer foolishness to rely only on them for answers. But they also know they can trust in other people’s creativity and commitment to get the work done.”

A leader-as-host provides conditions and good group process for people to work together, provides resources, helps protect the boundaries, and offers unequivocal support.

In other words, a host leader holds space for the work to happen, for the issues to be wrestled with, and for the emergence of what is possible from within the circle.

Unlike a host leader, an authoritarian leader hangs onto the past as a model for the future. Consider Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Instead of holding space for emergence, he knows that his support base clings to the ideal of a simpler, more manageable time. It’s not hard to understand, in this time of complexity, how it can feel more safe to harken back to the past when less was expected of us and the boundaries were more clear. Don’t we all, for example, sometimes wish we could be back in our childhood homes when all that was expected of us was that we clean up our toys before bedtime?

But we “can’t go back home again”. The future will emerge with or without us. We can only hope that the right kind of leadership can and will arise (within us and around us) that will help us adapt and grow into it. If not, our planet will suffer, our marginalized people will continue to be disadvantaged, and justice will never be served for those who have been exploited.

In his book, Leading from the Emerging Future, Otto Scharmer talks about leadership not being about individuals, but about the capacity of the whole system. “The essence of leadership has always been about sensing and actualizing the future. It is about crossing the threshold and stepping into a new territory, into a future that is different from the past. The Indo-European root of the English word leadership, leith, means “to go forth,” “to cross a threshold,” or “to die.” Letting go often feels like dying. This deep process of leadership, of letting go and letting the new and unknown come, of dying and being reborn, probably has not changed much over the course of human history. The German poet Johan Wolfgang von Goethe knew it well when he wrote, ‘And if you don’t know this dying and birth, you are merely a dreary guest on Earth.’”

What he’s talking about is essentially the liminal space that I wrote about in the past. It’s the space between stories, when nobody is in control and the best we can do is to hold space for the emerging future. We, as a global collective, are in that liminal space in more ways than one.

With Wheatley and Scharmer, I would argue that an important part of our roles as leaders in this age of complexity is to hospice the death of our old ideas about leadership so that new ideas can be born. Authoritarianism will not serve us in the future. It will not help us address the complexity of climate change. It will not help us address racial or gender inequity. 

We need leaders – at ALL levels of our governments, institutions, communities, and families – who can dance with complexity, play with possibility, and sit with their fear. We need leaders who can navigate the darkness. We need leaders who can hold seemingly opposing views and not lose sight of the space in between. We need leaders who know how to hold liminal space. 

This is not meant to be a political post, and so I won’t tell you who to vote for (partly because I am Canadian and partly because I’m not sure any candidate in any election I’ve witnessed truly reflects the kind of leadership I’m talking about – they are, after all, products of a system we’ve created which may no longer work for the future).

Instead, I will ask you… how is this style of leadership showing up in your own life? Are you serving as host or hero? Are you holding space for the emerging future? And are you asking it of the leaders that you follow and/or elect? Or are you still clinging to the past and hoping the right hero will ride in on a white horse to save us?

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Hero ~ Mariah Carey

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And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you

Me in the Middle of Summer Reading (#FlashBack)

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream. Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships. “ 
~ Francis Mandewah ~ Friendship-A True Story of Adventure, Good Will and Endurance

It’s FlashBack Friday ~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc. 

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on August 16, 2016.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title  ~ Me in the Middle of Summer Reading ~ below to be taken to the original post.  I chose this post because of the quote above.  It’s from one of my Guest Bloggers, Francis Mandewah, written in his memoir ~ Friendship-A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill and Endurance.  I read Francis’ story during the summer of last year (Third Book).  He wrote of his journey from the Sierra Leone to the United States.  A journey that was aided through his friendship with a white man, Tom Johnson, who he met when he was a 15-year-old teenager.

The recent events in the nearby city of Charlottesville have left me with the need to reflect on the ugliness of racism that was on display the weekend of August 11-13.  The repercussions continue to unfold.  In his memoir, Francis speaks of this awareness and his experiences of racism since he became a citizen in the USA.  He speaks of his love for this Country and his hope to contribute to its healing.  Most of all he speaks of the role that this one friend played in helping him to recognize that goodness lives in the hearts of people no matter what their color.

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Me in the Middle of Summer Reading

First Book

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This poem moved me so deeply that I followed up with a Google search and found that Dawna Markova had written a  book by the same title.  “Why are we here?” is the question she asks both herself and the reader of this wonderful book ~ I WILL NOT DIE AN UNLIVED LIFE ~.  It’s written while Dawna is on a retreat to solitude in a cabin far away from the hectic pace of modern life.  Her story travels along different paths than mine has and that’s the whole point of her book.  We’re here to follow our own passion and dreams.

“Anyone on a spiritual quest, seeking to discover their own deep wisdom, and uncover their “calling” will be enriched and energized in a powerful and gentle way……”

(Forward)

“Like the rest of the natural world, human beings go through seasons.  At one point, we are in the full bloom of summer, harvesting, committed, in abundance.  Then, naturally there is an autumnal time of falling away, disillusionment, stagnation, a shedding of what has been used up.  Then must come the fallowness and dormancy of winter, death, rest.  Eventually, as is happening right outside the window of this cabin, there is a great melting into muck and mud, which, if one can persevere, opens naturally into an abundant yellow-green time, when everything is possible and horizons open.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

“In a similar way to A Gift from the Sea, the readers of this book (I Will Not Live An Unlived Life) are invited to accompany me on a journey to come to know more intimately the value and purpose of their lives.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

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Men, Women and Happiness Cropped (2)

Ink Sketch and Watercolor by Mary Lou Q

Second Book

Gift from the Sea #3

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book ~ GIFT FROM THE SEA ~ was shared with me by my mother back in the 90’s.  I packed myself a lunch and took a ride to the beach, setting up my chair in front of the ocean.  It was a restful day that I needed badly and I hoped to find nuggets of wisdom and truth from this book.  At the time it was difficult for me to concentrate on it.  I kept thinking ‘How can this wealthy woman whose life is so different than mine even relate to what I’m experiencing?’  It’s only been down through the years and coming across Anne’s various quotes from her book that I’ve decided to read it again.  Dawna Markova read it to inspire her book ‘I Will Not Live An Unlived Life’ and I decided to read them both this summer.

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anne-morrow-lindbergh-quotes-3

The Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Gift from the Sea (2005)  is written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve Lindbergh:

“I read Gift from the Sea at all Seasons of the Year and of my life.  I never once had the sense that my mother’s 1955 book has lost its freshness, or that the wisdom contained within its pages has ceased to apply, whether to my own life or to what I’ve learned , overtime, about hers.”

“Above all, I think, Gift from the Sea offers its readers an unusual kind of freedom.  It is hard to recognize, or even to describe, but I think this freedom is the real reason this book continues to be so well loved and so well read after all these years.  I am talking about the freedom that comes from choosing to remain open, as my mother did, to life itself, whatever it may bring:  Joys, sorrows, triumphs, failures, suffering, comfort and, certainly, always, change.”

Thanks, Mom!  I get it!  ❤

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A Gift from the Sea

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Third Book

Francis Friendship

Francis Mandewah is one of my Guest Bloggers

Me in the Middle introducing Guest Blogger ~ Francis

I was so inspired by what Francis wrote in his guest blog that I bought his book on Amazon Kindle and I’ve just begun reading it.  His story begins with his life as a 15 year old young man in the African country of Sierra Leone and in the heart of the African diamond zone.  His story too is a spiritual journey of trust in goodness in the world in spite of the hardships and realities that might come along.  It’s his trust in this goodness that makes it possible for Francis to be fully present when God opens a door in his life that leads him to the path of his dreams.

“As I chronicled my trials and tribulations I discovered my voice in between the lines of my story ~ a voice that was filled with faith.”

~ Francis Mandewah ~

“I suppose this dream has been the script for my life, because even as I sit, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always feel a tinge of uncertainty, as if I’m eternally looking for a flight itinerary. I have lived a life filled with the adventure of being ushered onto stage and the turmoil of being blindfolded and locked in a cage. Through my travels, my willingness to walk to and through the door, I discovered within myself a will to not just survive, but to thrive, no matter the circumstance.”

Blood Diamond ~ Sierra Leone

 

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream.  Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships. 

Francis Mandewah

 

Me in the Middle Invites Guest Bloggers

My brother, John ~ Me in the Middle ~ My brother, Richard

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 Submit a Micro-Memoir of less than 2,000 words

and other inspirational posts

Welcome to My Blog

You can learn more about my website by going to ‘About’.

My  blog on this website, Me in the Middle, is an Invitation to you to share a time in your life where you thought you’d never make it through and you did.  A witness of the strength that you never thought you had.  An Arrival to a place of enlightenment, contentment and gratitude.  A message of hope to others.  A sharing of your “Me in the Middle” story or a post that shares a message that inspired you along the way to wholeness. (Submit through ‘Contact’)

“These folks, it appears, found a way to use hardship, pain and loss creatively. They have made of their lives works of art, they have found ways to become themselves, to achieve wholeness.”   David Goff ~ Arrival (see article)