…if one is servant, either leader or follower, one is always searching. –Robert K. Greenleaf
Good morning, Gentle Reader. This morning we will continue our brief exploration of some of the disciplines. As a reminder here are the disciplines, we explored the first three last time:
- Listening, first
- Being Aware
- Imaging to help with preparing
- Making Whole-Healing
- Being Responsible
Let us continue.
Imaging to help with preparing. Research continues to confirm that imaging is not only helpful, it is crucial. The old adage, ‘If you can see it you can do it’ seems to hold true, over and over again (ask any professional athlete, for example, and the athlete will confirm the power and importance of this discipline). Greenleaf tells the story of his own imaging – preparing without knowing what he was preparing for.
When Greenleaf worked at AT&T in New York, he lived in New Jersey. He would take the train (light-rail and sub-way) from New Jersey to New York. Every day, for years, after he settled in on the train, he would imagine a scenario in which he would have to jump up – and at times jump over people – and pull the emergency cord in order to stop the train.
One morning, after he had settled in on the sub-way, he noticed, as the train began to move, that a man was stuck – he was caught in the door. People were screaming as they could see that the man would be crushed once the train came to the end of the walk-way and entered the tunnel.
Greenleaf did not ‘think;’ Greenleaf reacted. He jumped up and over folks and pulled the emergency cord and the train stopped just short of the tunnel. The imaging that Greenleaf had done for years had served him well. All first-responders develop the discipline of imaging. So do professional athletes and many non-professional athletes. I have been playing golf for more than 62 years and I developed this discipline when I took up the game when I was 12.
This discipline can serve us well – as servants, as servant-leaders and as servant-followers.
Withdrawal. Greenleaf reminds us, over and over again, that it is crucial for us to develop this discipline. We can develop the discipline so that we can ‘withdraw’ for a few seconds (think: pause to catch our breath and slow down) or we can ‘withdraw’ for hours – even for days. In withdrawing we stop, step-back and reflect or ‘clear’ or ‘let go of’ and after some time we re-enter.
For example, prior to guiding a ‘work-treat’ (part workshop and part retreat) I will withdraw for 30-45 minutes. During this time I will image how I want the experience to go and I will focus my energy on the ‘now.’ I will image myself being fully present to the participants. The discipline of withdrawal enables me to become more response-able and, if necessary more appropriately reactive (think: be responsive to what is emerging during the session).
Next time we will continue our brief exploration of these ‘Disciplines.’
A servant-leader is a person who begins with a natural feeling of wanting to serve first – to help, support and encourage and lift up others. And because of their noble role-models others begin to lead by serving. –Robert K. Greenleaf