One way of making sense of our leadership is as a psychospiritual journey.
In the first half of life we journey outwards into the material world, finding our place, and establishing our personal identity. In the second half of life we can journey inwards to the non-material world of spirit and oneness, finding out who we really are and why we’re here. Not everyone goes there. As the Franciscan priest Richard Rohr says in Falling Upward - a spirituality for the two halves of life ‘A “further journey” is a well-kept secret, for some reason. Many people do not even know there is one’.
There are two complementary, interwoven forces or longings that guide our journey:
the desire for consolidation and stability, reducing risk and limiting change. This is driven by the need to build a strong foundation to our life and to feel safe, to be able to manage predictable life events, and to form our personal identity. This drive for consolidation allows us to maintain, preserve and protect.
the impulse for expansion and growth, powered either by a desire to evolve and become boundless, or in response to the challenges presented by life conditions. Expansion involves the risk of trying something new, and possibly failing, but can also offer great rewards. This drive for expansion allows us to evolve, transform, and transcend.
We experience the first of these initially as who we are, then as our Egos, and eventually as just psychological structures and processes.
The second we experience initially as a drive to be more competent and successful, then as a desire to self-actualise, and then as a spiritual yearning, a longing to connect with the boundless source of creation.
Together these forces mould the psychospiritual journey towards ego transcendence, great meaning, and an ever greater embrace.
As a newborn baby, and even before, we clothe our spirit in psychological structures so that we can incarnate more fully, be in the world, and get our needs for safety, love and self-worth met. We learn which parts of ourselves are OK, and which parts of ourselves to hide away to stay safe, get our needs met, and be loved by our parents, carers, friends and family.
Then we make these ways of hiding into habits so that we can do them automatically without thinking. And, to make sure that we won’t accidentally change these habits, we hide from ourselves that we are exhibiting these defensive ways of thinking and behaving! Like Zaphod Beeblebrox in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy we lock away part of our selves so that we can thrive - or at least feel safe - in the world.
And so we move from the pure ‘being’ state of the newly born to the increasingly ‘doing’ state of the growing child.
By the time we reach adulthood, the physiological and psychological structures we have built and then hidden from ourselves are determining much of our perceiving, thinking, feeling and behaving. We may find that the ways of being and doing we have developed allow us to be fulfilled and happy, and that the journey outwards has been enough.
But if it hasn’t and, if despite succeeding in the external facets of our life (material possessions, a partner, children, …), we don’t feel fulfilled then there is a second journey - the journey inward - that we can also make. In this we dismantle the limiting defences we have built, we bring back into the light the parts of ourselves we have hidden away, and we reconnect to Source, that place of direct knowing that long ago we were forced to bury deep within our psyche. Like Zaphod we need to access what we have locked away. In his case this was the quest to find the person who actually rules the universe - and in ours it is something similar!
Leading (of self and others) is becoming ever more challenging because of the ever increasing complexity of the world. This complexity arises from the many ways we are increasingly interconnected (though weather systems, travel, pollution, the internet, trade) and the increasing speed of the interactions. The consequences are mixed - hugely positive for some in terms of material worth and opportunity; but potentially fatal for some or all of us.
This is creating a spiritual crisis, a crisis of meaning and of consciousness. And it is global. So we need our leaders to be willing to make the journey to an increasingly global worldview - the journey from me, to us, to all of us. But we must not make the mistake of projecting the need for leaders out onto the world - we too must make the journey from me to us to all of us so that we can respond effectively to the challenges of the deeply interconnected world we inhabit.
Nelson Mandela provides an eloquent summary of his leadership journey.
Psychospiritual coaching supports people on their journey inward. It brings together tools and techniques from coaching and psychotherapy with developmental and existential perspectives within a holistic model of consciousness. Through it you can connect with and express the essence of who your are and in so doing develop your capacity for leadership. Psychospiritual coaching strengthens your ability to:
lead your own life, and to lead others
explore your identity as a leader, and who you ultimately are
develop your self and other awareness and activate the Will
lead without being controlled by Ego, with no attachment to outcome
develop your purposefulness and clarify what your leadership serves
be comfortable holding paradoxical, ambiguous and conflicting ideas, emotions and possibilities in mind
develop your good will, and your intention to be of real benefit to yourself and others
attend to your ongoing experience, being present and welcoming whatever feelings, thoughts and impulses arise
resist the temptation to make complex issues simple (whilst at the same time seeing the simplicity within the complexity)
recognise the subjectivity of your perceptions whilst developing your capacity for knowing.