There seems to be quite a bit of banter about leadership on social networks, blogs, and popular business books. I suspect it is all in an effort to satisfy a huge unmet need. This need has been unmet for a very long time and it will likely remain so, assured by an almost epidemic absence of critical thinking. Wishing for someone to step up to extract us from the mess we’ve created, and continue to perpetuate, is just fanciful thinking.
We each must awaken to the fact that our future is decided (by each of us) now, not sometime later. The future we will experience is influenced by the choices we make in this moment. Accordingly, the way we perceive and deal with the circumstances that challenge us to change today will paint our tomorrows. Yet many refuse to embrace this challenge, seeking rather to avoid dealing with it.
Most avoidance behaviors are caused by fear, by an ego-based reaction to the challenge to let go of habits of thought and learn anew. Unfortunately avoiding or resisting this challenge does not protect us from change. It just delays it, making adapting increasingly more difficult and eventually impossible. As much as we may resist change, we cannot prevent it—history of societies provides the evidence of this.
As we continue in this ego-centered mode, the less we engage with change the more we feel acted upon and victimized by it, the more defensive we become. As feelings of being the victim intensify, we turn our attention away from gaining an understanding of the need for change and toward blaming others. As the thinking goes: Obviously someone must be causing us to experience these problems; so it must be them! Accordingly we ignore the opportunity brought forth by the challenge for change, and with it the chance to collaborate in learning and improving—our self, our organizations, and society.
For the sake of human progress, we must begin to view such challenges as an opportunity to learn and to make a contribution toward a better future. We must say no to reactionary habit directed existence, filled with fear of the unfamiliar and the comfort and certainty that habit brings.
Accordingly, we each can demonstrate the courage of self-leadership by embracing the challenge to change, to live life consciously and not merely habitually. This means we will be open to the energy change offers. After all there is nothing more tragic than life’s energy being denied because of fear.
By choosing to embrace the opportunity that a challenge for change presents, we make the choice to be the leader of our life. To quote Erich Fromm, “Living structures can be only if they become; they can exist only if they change.” If we cease learning and changing we cease existing.
For example, our economic system and its associated means and methods of business have been providing us with so many challenges so many opportunities to learn anew. Though many will nod in agreement that these continue to present challenges, few have demonstrated self-leadership to learn anew in support of making the needed fundamental changes. Even though time appears to be running out for many, most refuse to critically think about the validity of the beliefs that underlie business purpose and practice.