For the Sake of What?
by Loretta Love Huff
The return of lengthening days has long been a time of happiness and celebration for many people, both ancient and contemporary. The winter solstice occurred last month and the time of expanding daylight has now arrived in the northern hemisphere, at least. Many people find that this transitional period is often one of cleansing the self, and perhaps, the home and workspace, to prepare for the new beginnings of the New Year. In the realm of contextual leadership, it is a time to let go of old contexts and old practices that no longer serve you; to create new contexts and practices that inspire and free you.
Regardless of your religious orientation or geographical location on the earth, I’d like to offer the recent solstice as an opportunity for reflection. Personally, I find that as one year ends and another begins, and the days, once again, begin to lengthen, my mind and heart start pondering such questions as:
- Why am I here?
- What will this year contribute to the unfolding of my life’s purpose?
- Who will I be and become during this time?
- What can I do to deepen my own learning this year?
- How can I optimize and share my gifts and talents?
- How do I want my leadership to touch the lives of the people around me?
All of these questions are variations of that query many of us have heard spoken around the Institute, ‘For the sake of what…?’ ‘For the sake of what’ do you get up every morning, engage in dialog during the day, attend the myriad of meetings on your calendar, produce and read documents that explain and justify, return phone calls, read email, devote time to your own well-being (you ARE remembering to do that last one, aren’t you?)? If we don’t keep that big question, ‘for the sake of what…?’ out in front of us, most of those other activities will seem meaningless.
As you recall, you have chosen to enlist in the ‘Leadership Army’ and as a leader, your picture of where you are and your vision of where you are going needs to be crystal clear. Without this clarity, people around you may be left with the question: ‘why bother?’ when it comes to listening to and following you. Your ability to engage others will be impacted not only by your clarity of speech, but also by your willingness to discover and evoke ‘for the sake of what? in their world.
Let’s review a few contextual leadership tools as you reflect on the questions above.
Expanding the Playing Field
People’s commitments are often much larger than the fields upon which they get to express them. As an individual, you get to create the playing field upon which you play. Have you let circumstances in life or other people constrain your field? If so, who do you have to be and what conversations do you need to have to reclaim your field? In addition, as a leader, you continually create fields for the people around you through your speaking and listening. How much room are you providing for them? Are you fully utilizing the talents of the people in your world? Are you connecting what’s important to them to your vision?
Registering the Value
What impact is the unfolding of your life’s purpose having on you, your team, your family, your organization, your community, your customers and society? How will your personal brand of leadership shape the future? What legacy are you leaving through your being and actions? And, are you remembering to connect your action conversations to their commitments and concerns?
Three Dimensions of any System
Context-Process-Structure or Mindset-Actions-Results
‘Context is everything.’ It is our context that constrains or frees us – that sets the stage for what we think and see as possible at work, at home, in life. A leader’s most important job is to reveal and shift context, starting with his or hers. Is your prevailing context creeping back in? What new, committed context will enable the impact you intend to make?
Your reflection on the ideas offered here will allow a revelation or resurfacing of what’s important to you. The metaphorical slaying of the old year and rebirth of the new year on the Georgian calendar is a great time to reveal and shift context in your own life. May the sun serve as a beacon of light to guide you as you ponder, ‘Indeed, for the sake of what am I here?’