SERVANT-LEADERSHIP. . .HEPFUL DISCIPLINES

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.

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