In 2001, I was guiding a ‘work-treat’ [part workshop and part retreat] for the cohort of physicians who were participants in the Physician’s Leadership College at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis [I had the privilege of guiding these ‘work-treats’ for 14 years for the physician participants]. One of the physicians asked me what I thought Greenleaf’s Legacy was. I had never been asked that question, nor had I ever spent any significant amount of time ‘holding’ that question. I held the question for the rest of that day and then I spent a number of hours that night reflecting upon it. I had been, for a number of months, playing with ‘C’ words and so I began to list out words that began with the letter ‘C’ — words that might capture Greenleaf’s legacy. Within 3 hours I had them: Consciousness, Character, and Conduct. The following captures my current thinking regarding these three concepts and I expect my thinking will shift some as I continue to reflect upon Greenleaf’s Legacy.
Consciousness = the state of being aware while seeking to understand one’s own needs, attitudes, behavior, values, beliefs, perceptions in order to be open to understanding others’ needs, attitudes, behavior, values, beliefs, perceptions.
Character = the moral and ethical traits and principles that form the individual nature of a person [e.g. trustworthiness, caring, response-ability/responsibility, integrity, respect — the golden rule, open-mindedness, etc.]
Conduct = personal behavior; a way of choosing and acting; a way of ‘managing’ one’s self.
For Greenleaf all three of these were crucial when it came to one choosing to be a servant whether one was called to be a leader or not [for Greenleaf, one is ‘servant, first’ and ‘leader’ is a role that can and will go away].
Consciousness means choosing to be awake and aware and choosing to be intentional and purpose-full. Consciousness means that one is aware of who one is and who one is choosing to become. Consciousness means that one is aware of one’s strengths and growing edges (aka ‘weaknesses?’]. Consciousness means that one is aware of the ways one chooses to nurture one’s Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual dimensions and is also aware of the ways one chooses to deplete these dimensions (we all have our favorite ways of doing both).
Consciousness means that one is aware of the values, beliefs, principles, stereotypes, prejudices, deep assumptions, and attitude that inform and help guide his or her life.
Greenleaf suggests that when we choose to be conscious [i.e. awake and aware] that we might well be disturbed by what we discern; awareness does not bring comfort and solace — often it brings disturbance.
Consciousness is also required if I am going to be ‘present’ to myself and to you; if I am going to be living ‘in the Now.’