People should not consider so much what they are to do, as what they are. –Meister Eckhart
Greenleaf writes: ‘…there was a long “wilderness” period in which I sought resources outside myself. Good years went by. No answers came. A long time was spent in discovering that the only real answer to frustration is to concern myself with the drawing forth of what is uniquely me. Only as what is uniquely me emerges do I experience moments of true creativity; moments which, when deeply felt, give me the impulse and the courage to act constructively in the outside world.’
When I was 27 years old I knew I needed a ‘Mentor’. As Greenleaf had done, I had spent years searching for resources outside of myself. I had been living as others wanted me to live (this was not a ‘bad way’ of living it was, however, not ‘my way’ – I did not ‘own’ my way of living). I believed that if I held an intention that a ‘Mentor’ would appear – my charge was to identify and invite the Mentor into my life.
One afternoon my friend, Mark, approached me and said that he had two tickets to a lecture that was to be given that evening. He said that his fiancé, Leslie. a nurse, had to go to work and cover for another nurse. I asked Mark what the topic was and he replied that Leslie had an interest in it and that the topic was based upon a book: ‘I’m O.K. – You’re O.K.’ I asked Mark if he had read the book and he, in his usual manner quietly responded that Leslie had and that the topic interested her. I was a bit intrigued and had nothing else to do that evening and so I agreed to join Mark.
That decision dramatically impacted my life. The speaker, Lowell Colston, was the Mentor that I needed. We spoke briefly and he said that he was sure that he was supposed to be in my life and could we meet and talk. I had the same feeling. We met. We talked. We knew that we were meant to be in a Mentor-Mentee relationship. Lowell was my Mentor for 6 years (one morning he said to me, ‘Richard, I think it is time that you stopped being my Mentee and that we continue to be friends and colleagues.’ We did).
Via inquiry and searching conversations Lowell ‘called forth’ from me gifts, talents and potentials that I was not aware of possessing (or that I was not willing to affirm that I possessed). He drew forth that which was ‘uniquely me.’ Slowly I developed the ‘courage’ (‘Courage’ is rooted in the Latin ‘Cor’ which means ‘Heart’) to ‘be’ and ‘affirm’ who I was and who I was choosing to become. With Lowell’s support – which included affirmations, invitations to ‘consider’ and challenges – I, again slowly, began to discern ways of serving so that I and those I served grew as persons (Lowell introduced me to Greenleaf’s ‘The Servant as Leader’ essay in March, 1975 and via inquiry and searching conversations I embraced and integrated Greenleaf’s concept into who I was becoming). I also experienced ‘moments of true creativity’ – ‘moments’ that I had never imaged before.
Gentle Reader, who and what has drawn forth that which is uniquely you? As I conclude this piece I am reminded of Tolstoy’s burning question.
How then shall I live? –Leo Tolstoy