Can you forget yourself, even for a moment? As a leader, someone responsible for accomplishing some larger purpose, do you know how?
So many aspects of leadership seem to depend on it — true listening, for example, so that you can genuinely empathize, hearing with openness rather than closed expectations of what another will say. Or contributing instead of controlling or competing. Can you give up your need for recognition and “winning”? And what of those times when a change of some kind represents microscopic jeopardy to your position, or stature, or influence? Can you stop that process of defense and worry? How about empowering others and supporting their growth, even when some risk to your own reputation might be involved?
Can you let go enough? The way these things happen is through a process of self-forgetting.
Self-forgetting creates an opening for a larger energy to come through. If you can step aside just enough you may be able to see things from a very different vantage point. You may come to understand how little a situation has to do with your own needs and interests, your desire to defend what you’ve got or your ambitions to acquire something you believe you must have. If you feel unsafe, undefended, this is the time when you clench up. Can you “unclench” for a moment to realize all the concerns are likely to be only your illusions telling you they must act out their dramas or you will be lost? So be “lost” for a moment. See what happens.
We do not like to think we have illusions. What we like to think we have is the truth. The “truth,” however, often comes through an internal radio with a voice that sounds remarkably familiar.
Forgetting ourselves can bring forward something remarkably beautiful and moving instead. When we listen and see, the nuances of the situation have a chance to show up, not our presuppositions. Larger answers can occur when we stop “taking things personally” (often while we pretend we are not doing so).
The world is there for us to grasp its foundations. When we see our illusions for the mischief they are, we can stop trying to prove their value to the people beside us.
The outcome of forgetting ourselves is a new kind of generosity, of being truly generative as leaders. And yet the only thing that is sacrificed are the chimera of who we thought we had to be and what we once thought we needed to be safe.
Can you forget yourself in this way?
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