Some thoughts on inspiration... and I guess leadership.

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here

A long time friend* brought the following quote to my attention a couple of days ago, as we were talking about life and its meanderings. It was written by Marianne Williamson and has also found its way into the movie Coach Carter as a tribute to the themes of the story. The quote goes like this -

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”. 

It is not my intention to offer an interpretation of this per se, but since we are here, why not? Success does frighten some of us... even to the point that we will very expertly sabotage ourselves to ensure we never quite find it** - Where as with others, they will avoid success as they believe it will come with a feeling that they are somehow fraudulent and at any moment be discovered. Aside from the above comments though, what really struck me about this quote was that it evoked a strong emotional feeling of inspiration, much more than any intellectual interpretation of the words. 

There is a great social complexity with the human condition, our social structures, our interactions, and our desire as individuals to be understood and to understand. The emotion that came with the quote above, at least for me, speaks directly to this desire to be understood and to understand. I will be so bold to suggest that it is not just myself; if you look at the social media streams they are full of inspirational quotes and videos that speak to - 

  • Personal growth
  • Individuality
  • Struggle, success and failure 
  • Love and heartbreak
  • Understanding

Just to name a few.

So I think it is fair to say, more than ever, that the "collective" inspires and feeds our need to be understood and to understand. It just struck me now that I should offer a definition for the word "Inspire" and it goes something like this, "to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something"; inspiration, by extension, is the act to inspire. How neatly my thoughts are coming together don't you think? This aspect of inspiration feeds the feelings and emotions of our desire to be understood and to understand... it helps us find our way. So the collective is feeding this desire to be inspired... but what about when we look to the individual - And this I guess, brings us to leadership.

My intention here is to offer a perspective on leadership as it pertains to what we have been discussing... and yes, I know it's mostly been a monolog so far, but a dialogue is just a comment button away. I have found that leaders, and by extension leadership can be defined in two ways; Selfless Leadership and Selfish Leadership.

Selfless Leaders, tend to see their people as more valuable than themselves, participate with and understand them, and strive to develop an environment of trust; with mutual success. They more often than not, through their words and actions, evoking that emotion which leads to that connection and trust needed to be successful in our social structure.

Selfish Leaders, tend to see people as a resource for their personal needs and agenda, focus only these agendas and display little interest in people or any mutual success, other than any required operational function. I have found selfish leaders tend to offer little in the way of emotion that drives this feeling of being understood and understanding - Never creating a connection or trust.

And why should you care about any of this? Well... if you are involved with a team, couldn't it be said a team is really just a micro reflection of the great social complexity of the human condition, our social structures, our interactions, and our desire as individuals to be understood and to understand? And if so, you know what they say about how Great Teams Doing Great Things.

All of this just because I read a quote by Marianne Williamson and was inspired.


* The long time friend I refer to is "The Duke", who I mentioned in my blog entitled "Reflections" (Dec 31, 2014). I will be curious to see if he drinks his bourbon straight up the next time we go out (none of this will make sense unless you have read the post, but it sure has made me smile).

** Dr Brene Brown alludes to sabotaging her success by flying just under the radar in one of her TED talks, as well as discusses much, much more (I have attached the talk). If you are not familiar with Brene I encourage you to check out her two TED talks and even her books. She is a qualitative researcher by training and has explored the areas of shame and vulnerability. It is interesting, thought provoking, enlightening and very entertaining.