Lately I’ve been having moments of deep existential vertigo. Everything seems off-kilter. Progressive mayors dismantling Occupy encampments. Students rioting in support of a football coach who downplayed years of child sex abuse allegations by one of his trusted staff. Presidential candidates “forgetting” big settlements connected to sexual harassment claims. Earthquakes in Turkey. Earthquakes in Oklahoma. Reality TV lauding a family with 20 biological offspring. 11/11/11. Asteroids almost colliding with earth. Lions, tigers, bears. Oh my!
My daily newspaper reads like the “Weekly World News” these days. The voice of my long-dead grandma rises up through the ages to ask “What in God’s name are you all up to in there?” Frankly, often I have no idea. What are we up to these days? Sometimes it seems that I can’t count on anything.
And then I feel the joy at all the unexpected opportunities that disruption can present. I notice my heart beating. I hear the laughter of my staff. The moon is full tonight. The waves of the bay lap against the shore. A colleague dies. A friend is pregnant. I recall the sound of my partner Kim, breathing as she slept beside me last night.
Think back a year ago – who could have predicted the Arab Spring? Students and activists took to the streets in Paris, Santiago and Barcelona. Then in New York, and in thousands of cities and towns across the country and world. Did we plan for this? Probably not. Are we swimming with grace in this new, full river? I hope so.
In a time of constantly shifting sands, good leadership requires that we become adept at dancing. We will need to become increasingly skilled in ambiguity and comfortable with chaos. We can no longer depend on the structures supporting the decaying, archaic systems that are swiftly crumbling before our eyes. We’ve never been here before.
This is really good news.
How amazing is it that we get to lead in times like these? We have the honor and obligation to shepherd in a new and emerging age. How delightful is that?
We’ll need new tools, new ways of being and new paths. We’ll need to take unprecedented leaps of faith. I imagine that many around us will feel unsettled – we’ll probably be pretty unsettled ourselves. We’ll need to count on more than our egos, our shiny plans and our outdated traditions. Here’s to artful spontaneity, willingness to be present with what is emerging, and the ability to flex!
Part of our jobs as 21st century leaders is to hold steady in trust that we’ll collectively get through this time. That we won’t be the same when this transformation is complete. And that is as it should be.
So I’ve decided to count on the cycles of the moon, birth and death, Kim’s breathing, sweet laughter and the tides to get me through.
Oh yes – and I will count on your partnership.
What will you count on?
From my heart to yours,