"[Creole] wanted Sonny to leave the shoreline and strike out for deep water. He was Sonny's witness that deep water and drowning are not the same thing -- he had been there, and he knew." ~ from “Sonny’s Blues,” a short story by James Baldwin
Deep water and drowning are not the same thing.
That bit of wisdom may be more important than ever as we collectively and individually find ourselves thrown into the deep waters of the unknown. Can we courageously strike out from the shore of the familiar or are we too afraid of drowning? Or sharks?
What if the shoreline is on fire and we have no choice but to jump in? "But I can't swim!" we cry.
Humans crave security, safety, and familiarity. Even those of us who claim to be adventurers have our little pockets where our need for the perceived safety of the shoreline takes over.
It is vitally important to ask ourselves - Who will lead the collective swim if everyone wants to stand safely on the beach out of reach of the crashing waves and deep water?
It is vitally important to ask ourselves - What is the most important quality we each need to cultivate in order to survive the collective swim?
My vote goes to shoring up our hope that the future will become what we need it to be, even if we don't yet realize it is also what we have wanted. Even if it arrives in deep disguise. To do that, we must EACH cultivate our individual role as a leader.
Yes, you. YOU were born to be a leader.
To be a leader, you do not need to be a boss, a parent, or serve in any other traditional leadership role. It begins with becoming your own mentor, your own leader.
Leadership starts within.
We can begin by asking ourselves what we can do to help make our emerging selves and the emerging world a better place. What can we do to help create The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible?
According to Charles Eisenstein, author of the book by that title, our small, individual acts of courage, kindness, and self-trust add up to collectively changing the story for all of humankind. We change the collective narrative by purposely directing our own personal story.
Living on purpose is a powerful form of leadership.
By embracing our own purpose and calling, we radically increase our own positive influence beginning within ourselves, which lays the foundation to become the change leaders we were born to be radiating out into the world. We cannot help but radiate. It’s how the Oneness, our interconnectedness as humans, works.
You are already the pebble in the pond. Make your ripples count.
Until we become willing to address our own individual inner selves, any action we take, even those with the best of intentions, can be wrongheaded and wronghearted. They can backfire. We can scorch the earth and everything on it including us.
That’s some potent language.
The temptation is great to point fingers, lay blame, and unleash anger. And why not? Anger feels righteous, justified, necessary.
The answer lies in how we enlist our anger.
Anger is an intense emotion that can be a forceful catalyst or burn everything in its path.
There’s an alchemy to anger and adversity. While it’s true that anger can blind us, leading us into divisiveness, hatred, violence, bullying, blame, and self-righteousness, it can also burn off whatever has been in the way of our focus. The alchemist uses sacred fire to burn off any impurities.
Without anger, it would be all too easy to get stuck in complacency, denial, destruction, tiptoeing, hiding, pass-the-buck, or paralysis.
It is our anger that ignites our outrage at injustice, yet if it becomes our master, it can cripple us and render us ineffective.
Can we approach our anger and outrage as catalytic information without judgement or denial?
Can we enlist our anger as an alchemical purifying agent instead of a destructive one?
Can we allow it to burn off the “impurities” leaving us with a new passion for our purpose?
Can we feel our anger, then act in love?
As we become our own leaders… as each of us grows into our innate calling for self-leadership… as we radiate out… our individual choices create a tsunami of global transformative power. The emotion we use to fuel our radiation will determine whether it will it be transformation for good, for that better more beautiful world, or spew more anger and divisiveness.
If you knew your every action was leading the world in one direction or another, would you choose different actions?
To put it bluntly, your actions, your words, matter. Saying they don’t is passing the buck.
When we were born, we brought with us a blueprint not only for our own personal wholeness and love, but also for the better world we collectively crave. We create that more beautiful word by living our personal blueprint.
If we are willing.
We could argue that current times have more than their share of anger, volatility, bullying, divisiveness, uncertainty, hatred, entitlement, complexity, and ambiguity. Human history says otherwise.
Simply by being alive in this time, you can know you were born for this. You were born to become a leader beginning with leading yourself. If you are willing.
Where do we begin?
One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to inspire hope and its action companion - possibility thinking.
Hope starts within each of us.
Can you ignite even a tiny flicker of hope within yourself? Can you encourage yourself and others even a little? Can you believe in yourself and others just a teensy bit? Can you take hopeful action?
Can you be inclusive with yourself and others? If you believe even a little that we are all One, then excluding anyone is the same as excluding a part of yourself. An unloved part of yourself who is suffering.
Can you set the past free? Can you stop mining the past for blame, shame, or justification? The world is unlikely to ever be the same again. It’s OK to mourn the things that may be going away, and then release them to history. It’s not OK to seek someone or something to blame instead of beginning within.
Can you look ahead instead of back? Can you embrace what’s new? Or at least be open to it?
Can you see a need and fill it even if that takes imagination, spontaneity, leaping without a net, and messing up a time or ten?
Can you become OK with not knowing everything before doing anything?
Can you become OK with owning up to your mistakes, asking for help, and humbling yourself to accept both?
Can you become OK with doing some dumb things that turn out to be smart and some smart things that turn out to be dumb?
Can you encourage others to be courageous and support them in their courageous acts?
Are you willing to be a maverick, try new ways, fail spectacularly, fall down and get up again, and move forward without wallowing?
Are you willing to feel it all without getting stuck in the feelings?
Are you willing to become one of "the people our parents warned us about"? That line from a Jimmy Buffet song speaks to a willingness to buck the system, reject whatever hasn't been working, and find ways to redefine the future in order to create a more beautiful collective story.
We no longer have time to wait for someone else to lead us.
How each of us chooses to behave in this crisis will determine how all of us go forward together. This is a magnificent opportunity to live the Oneness.
If you are alive now it is because your soul accepted a calling to become a leader, and all leaders lead from within. Besides, if the only one you ever lead is yourself that is enough. We are all in this together.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Anne Wade is Teacher, Writer, Mentor, and Coach for courageous women in midlife and beyond who want to disrupt their own status quo and design life on their own terms, even in turbulent times. She has developed the Becoming Found process of going within to find and address the inner barriers we have all inadvertently built up against love, happiness, health, wealth and any other desires of our hearts. Teaching women to unapologetically shine like a superstar and live their legacy is Anne’s mission.
You can follow her on her Facebook page “Anne Wade – Becoming found” or join her “Becoming Found” Facebook group.