About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

18 April 2014

The One Who Stands Within

In December of 2004, John O'Donohue talked to our Masters Forum audience about leadership. And, while acknowledging that leaders need to possess certain skills, he focused on the seven personal qualities he thought underpinned all truly successful leaders.
"The first quality that I would like is that a leader would have an inner life - the person wouldn’t be just an outside, external functionary.

"Secondly, they would have a quality of vulnerability. I don’t mean vulnerability in the sense that they are assailable from every corner, but when you’d look in their eyes, you would know that they knew what it was like to be vulnerable.

"Third, I like a leader to have a bit of solitude, a very rare thing in our times. It’s hard to find it, and a lot of people are terrified of it, and they’ll run from it, but a person that can’t endure their own demons or know them, or have a secret place where they can meet them, can’t be trusted fully in the interaction of combat, where power is the question.

"A fourth thing I like in a leader is imagination and vision. Vision is vital. A vision is something that links together the gift of your own individuality with the need that is where you are, it links gift and hunger together in a way that links the best in you toward the best in them. Vision can only be developed if you are awake to the blessings and the potential of your own mind.

"Fifth, a leader has to have character. A person who has character is someone who is not a prisoner of their own ego and limitations.

"Sixth, a leader is someone who has the gift of compassion as well as the ministry of encouragement. It’s amazing when you think of some of the gifts and abilities that you have, if you hadn’t got that old praise or recognition or encouragement, you might never have crossed over into your own gift.

"The seventh thing I think a leader should have is the quality of listening. Heidegger said that true listening is worship, and it’s amazing, actually. It’s amazing to be listened to. When you’re truly listened to, a burden and all kinds of old false layering falls away from you completely."
He went on to say that we can't fully develop these inner qualities until we shed the notion that we are the sum total of where we've been and what we've accomplished, and somehow get in touch with who we really are, or the one who stands within.
"Identity is being reduced to biography, whereas in actual fact identity is a far more sublime, substantial, and sophisticated concept. . . . Meister Eckhart says, 'There is a place in your soul that neither time nor space nor no creator’s thing has ever touched.' There’s a place inside you where no one has ever got to you, where no one has ever damaged you, where you have a niche of tranquility and natural serenity, and a courage and a hope that can never be taken from you. And I think that the intention of prayer, creativity, and true leadership is to somehow bring you into that place within you."
  • Who is the one who stands within you? How is that person like the one you present to the world? Different?
  • How have you been vulnerable? How has it shaped you?
  • Is solitude something you avoid or cherish? Explain.
  • How are you impacting those around you with the ministry of encouragement? Or not?
  • How is true listening worship?
"Nothing resembles the language of God so much as does silence." - Meister Eckhart

"You must have a room or a certain hour of the day or something where you do not know what is in the morning paper. A place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. At first you may think nothing's happening. But if you have a sacred space and take advantage of it and use it everyday, something will happen." - Joseph Campbell

"There is a deep power in which we exist whose beatitude is accessible to us. Every moment the individual feels invaded by it is memorable. It comes to the simple and lowly, it comes in the form of serenity...when it breaks through the intellect it is genius; when it breathes through the will it is virtue, when it flows through the affections it is love." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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