THEME: New Year, More Challenges
FOCUS: Breaking the Addiction to Go Mode
Monday morning: March 29, 2010
Here is a poem to start off the morning:
Searching for the Hermit in Vain
I asked the boy beneath the pines.
He said, “The master’s gone alone
Herb-picking somewhere on the mount,
Cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown.”
- Chia Tao (777 A.D. - 841 A.D.)
Many times during our lives as leaders we search for the right answers to the difficult and complex questions that people ask us on a daily basis. And just as many times, we search in vain. The answers are “cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown.”
Ever since my brother-in-law Warren died of cancer at the end of March seven years ago, this week is a time period where I pause and step out of the daily routine of go, fix, rush, keep moving. Instead, I pause and attempt to regain my perspective. With hints of spring in the air, I do not rush for more answers or more new knowledge. Instead, I step back rather than forward. I listen rather than talk. I receive rather than give.
Leaders are addicted to problems. We live to solve them. We love to diagnose and fix them. We adore opportunities to share brilliant insights in the midst of complexity. But with age, experience and maturity comes the revelation that as a leader there are days when words can not fix or solve every problem. At times, we need to move past questions and answers.
I remember early on in my career working with a wise woman executive in Kansas whose organization served people with many different forms of disabilities. We were working on a complex strategic problem when she shared with me that she was exhausted by the pace of change. I asked her what she did to regain perspective. She responded, “I go to Walmart. We have a client who is a greeter at Walmart. I have known her since the first day we started offering services to her. When I am tired, frustrated or just plain overwhelmed, I get in my car and go out to Walmart. This client always greets me warmly when I enter. We visit for a brief moment and then she goes back to greeting the others who are coming into the store. Somedays, I help her. Other days I just sit and watch. Somedays we get so busy we forget the purpose of our work. When I get worn, I go and visit Walmart. I am always greeted warmly and this makes a world of difference.”
In a world filled with e-mail, voice mail, text messaging, instant messaging, and tweets, we can drown in the minutia of the moment and never witness the daily miracles of life. Therefore in late March, I like to pause and be like the boy who sits for a while beneath the pine tree, waiting for the master who has gone on alone, herb-picking somewhere on the mount. Neither I nor the master are truly cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown. We are just focused on living in the moment, and it makes a world of difference.
Enjoy the day and the week. I hope it is filled with many blessings.
Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change
Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257