…one is always searching. –Robert K. Greenleaf

Good morning, Gentle Reader.  This morning we will conclude our brief exploration of some of the disciplines.  As a reminder here are the disciplines, we have explored five thus far:

  • Listening, first
  • Being Aware
  • Inquiry
  • Imaging to help with preparing
  • Withdrawal
  • Making Whole-Healing
  • Being Responsible
  • Seeking-Searching
  • Understanding

Let us continue.

Seeking-Searching.  For Greenleaf the discipline is not the seeking-searching.  The discipline is the seeking-searching without the goal of ‘finding’ – the process itself is what is crucial to the discipline.  What hinders this type of seeking-searching?

Consider the following hindrances (if not direct blocks to the process):  If I am ‘sure’ then I have no reason to seek and search.  If the ‘way’ I do something – parent, teach, serve, lead, etc. – gets me what I want then I will have little, if any, motivation to seek and search.  When my ‘identity’ is threatened then I will not be open to seeking and searching (who wants to give up his or her identity).  If I have ‘found___’ then I am less likely to seek and search.

Seeking-Searching is risky.  I might be influenced by what I encounter (in order to seek and search I must hold an openness to being influenced).  I might have to let go of…and take on….—I might have to shift or change or, what is more challenging, I might have to transform (transform = a fundamental change in character or structure).

This discipline is connected to the next discipline.

Understanding.  How many folks have difficulty seeking to understand because they have equated understanding with agreement?  This equation embodies the typical adolescent argument (in our Culture): If you understand me then you will agree with me!  Their mantra: You don’t understand! Means: You don’t agree!  We perfect this during our adolescent years and carry it into adulthood.

Greenleaf is clear: Develop the discipline of listening first in order to seek to understand.  If one engages in this discipline one runs the risk of being influenced by what one learns (being open to the possibility of being influenced is crucial to seeking to understand).

What do I seek to understand?  First, I seek to understand what I have integrated and then to seek to understand if what I have integrated continues to serve me and others well (for servant, first folks this means to serve so that others grow).  For example, what are the 2-3 core values I have integrated and what are the 2-3 deep tacit assumptions I have integrated and what are the 2-3 core guiding life-principles I have integrated AND do these serve me and others well?

Seeking to understand myself is, indeed, a life-long endeavor.  As I seek to understand myself I also seek to understand the other and his/her core values, deep assumptions, etc.  Again: Understanding does not mean that I will agree with…

For those who choose to embrace Greenleaf’s concept these disciplines are a given, they are integral.  They help individuals and relationships (all organizations are individuals and relationships writ large) serve one another in ways that support his ‘Best Test’ and embrace his ‘Credo’ (of course, each person and each organization is called to develop their own ‘Credo’ and not simply accept Greenleaf’s).

We will be returning to this topic at some point but these entries will have to suffice for now.

…seek first to understand. –Robert K. Greenleaf



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