Greenleaf writes: Responsibility requires that a person think, speak and act as if personally accountable to all who may be affected by his or her words, thoughts and deeds. . .awareness is important.
Over these many years folks have asked me: ‘What are the disciplines that might help us become more response-able and responsible and hence accountable?’ Here is my list and, gentle reader, I invite you to add to my list or emerge your own list.
Being Present. Being awake & aware in the ‘now’ & being fully present in the ‘now’ [as Greenleaf often noted, being awake & aware does not necessarily bring comfort; more often than we would like, being awake & aware brings discomfort and disturbance]
Reflection. Learning from our experience requires the discipline of reflection [i.e. being a ‘reflective-participant-observer’ in my own life]. Some common ‘blocks’ to this discipline include – but are not limited to – ‘hyper-stimulation,’ ‘hyper-noise’ (internal and external), ‘hyper-busyness’ and ‘hyper-distraction.’ Charles Handy reminds us that: Reflection plus Experience is the Learning.
Listening – Intently & Receptively. Listening first to understand and to empathize; inviting & honoring all voices – inviting the uninvited. Holding Greenleaf’s Question: ‘When I speak, how will that improve on the silence?’
Framing Effective Questions. Effective questions arise from a ‘place of not-knowing;’ we frame questions that ‘probe, challenge, help one go deeper;’ we frame questions with the belief & attitude that the responder does, indeed, have the potential to respond intelligently, creatively, & truthfully (the responder speaks rooted ‘good faith’ and in his or her ‘truth’)
Framing ‘Aching’ Questions. For one person these may be questions of ‘life-after-death,’ for another they might be questions about ‘suffering’ or they might involve questions of ‘identity’ or they might be questions capturing a profound ethical or moral dilemma. Some of these we respond to and some we ‘hold’ and as the great German poet Rilke advises: ‘We live the questions’
Balancing Being-Faithful & Being-Effective. As a servant-first, follower or leader, what must I be faithful to even though I might not be effective? For example, one might choose to act rooted in integrity at all times; if one does this one will, at some time, risk not being effective. Mother Theresa was clear when she said: ‘I am called to be faithful; I am not called to be effective.’
If you want to reflect more deeply upon these Disciplines gentle reader, here are some guiding questions.
• At this time in your life which discipline do you need to develop, or develop more fully? What is your motivation for doing so?
• Specifically, what are you willing to commit to in order to develop this discipline, or to develop it more fully?
• How will you know you have developed it – or developed it more fully?
As I conclude today, I offer us more advice from Greenleaf: The opening of awareness stocks both the conscious and unconscious minds with a richness of resources. . .it is value-building and value-clarifying, and it armors one to meet the stresses of life by helping build serenity in the face of stress and uncertainty. . .and 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.