The following excerpts are from an unpublished essay that Greenleaf wrote as a ‘result of discussions with students of the Harvard Business School (1960-1961). The students participated in the Musser Seminars on Religion and Business.’ Greenleaf writes:
…from time to time events…have caused me to stand aside and ask myself some searching questions such as: Who am I? Where am I? Why am I here, anyway?
Gentle Reader, what are some of the events in your life that have motivated you to stop, step-aside, and emerge a number of searching questions? What were the searching questions that emerged into your consciousness? I have held the three questions that Greenleaf emerged and here are two others that I have held: ‘Where am I going?’ ‘Why am I choosing to go there?’ (think: the path that my life is taking)
…the most important of all the lessons I have learned is that the emergence, the full development, of what is uniquely me should be an important concern throughout my entire life. . . . Regardless of the obligations that I assume or how hard pressed I am by circumstance, the development of what is uniquely me always claims a substantial share of my attention.
Gentle Reader, I am thinking of Gandhi’s counsel: ‘Become the change you want to see in the world.’ How much time and energy do we put into becoming the person that others want us to become? When I was a young I had a friend who was, we all knew, called to be an electrical engineer – he was fixing peoples’ radios and television sets when he was 10 years old. His parents wanted him to become a physician. He entered premed-school and flunked out. It took him another 8 years to embrace his passion and, thankfully, he finally did and became a superb electrical engineer. Who are we called to become? One way of thinking about this question is to identify our gifts-talents-abilities (those we have developed and those which lie dormant within us and need to be called forth and developed) and then work at discerning needs that exist in the world that you can use your gifts, etc. to help address.
Every life…is a blend of experiences that build up ego strength and those that tear it down. As one’s responsibilities widen, these forces become more powerful. I see maturity as the capacity to withstand the ego destroying experiences and not lose one’s perspective in the ego building experiences.
Gentle Reader, what have been (or are) some of your life experiences that have nurtured your ‘ego strength’ and what are some that have depleted your ‘ego strength’? What support do you need that would help you embrace more of that which nurtures and sustains your ego strength? What support do you need that would help you avoid choosing experiences that would deplete your ego strength?