Guest post from the Desk of Patricia Aburdene. Though she sent this last November, I was re-reading it the other day and wanted to share because there are so many good thoughts for starting a New Year. Enjoy!
November brings falling leaves, shortened days, frosty nights, and perhaps the first snowfall. The Celtic feast of Samhain (which we celebrate as Halloween and All Saints Day) ushers in the year’s eighth and final cycle. The year’s growth phase is complete. But even as the old fruit withers away, its seeds are buried deep in the earth to germinate at Winter Solstice and sprout into new life next year. Spiritually speaking, this is a critical phase. We’ve harvested the year’s achievements-both inner and outer-but have yet to fully grasp and integrate them.
From now up until the December Solstice that is our task and it’s a mighty one. Now the inner inquiry shifts from “What have I achieved this year?” to “What have I learned from the year’s experiences?” At this precious time, we turn inward to reflect on the year’s journey, challenges, and insights in order to distill the lessons we’ve learned and absorb them as soul wisdom.
- How did you evolve this year?
- Where did you get stuck?
- What for you was the year’s deep and true purpose?
As far as that last question goes, I’ve experienced several years when the answer was not reveled to me until November or even December! In those cases I had thought I grasped the year’s purpose in, say August or October, only to discover that it then morphed into a new iteration as the year drew closer to a close. Even so, I treasure these initial glimpses of purpose as “first drafts” that are later transformed into a deeper sense of meaning.
But eventually we must surrender even the deepest purpose and greatest fulfillment. As we move into December, we are called to release the past year in order to be reborn at Winter Solstice and to embrace the as yet unknown yet purposeful adventure that awaits us in the New Year.
In Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism, I had the pleasure of debunking the mythology of the superstar CEO. You know what I mean: the “charismatic” type with a big ego and lots (and lots) of confidence. I argued that true leadership and transformative leadership, was more likely to come from modest, hardworking, “change agents” in middle management.
Now out comes a study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington that concludes the most effective leaders share the same character trait. Though some might find it surprising, that characteristic is humility. Humble leaders, the study reports:
- Perform well with both individuals and teams.
- Create high levels of employee engagement and trust.
- Inspire profound commitment to the leader’s vision.
Nevertheless, business as usual persists in perceiving humility as weakness. Worse yet, boards of directors regularly mistake arrogance and over confidence for know-how and wisdom. But as the list of celebrity CEOs fired for their destructive, ego-based, personalities continues to grow, maybe there’s hope that business is finally recognizing that it requires great strength to be humble, to listen, reflect, take in feedback or criticism, and profit from it. Check out the full story in Entrepreneur magazine.
The authors, Zachary Feder and Khatera Sahibzada, conclude their story on the University of Washington humility study with these words: “Humility is a treasure that leaders can only receive once they have taken the journey into the very heart of who they are.”
That for me is the essence of Conscious Leadership.
P.S. from Lisa: Please let us know your thoughts on Conscious Leadership by commenting below. You can join Patricia’s email list to receive these wonderful newsletters here.