Don’t look outside of yourself to understand and source leadership and power, look within. Every one of us is a leader when we tap into the inner sovereignty of our unique configuration of beauty and power. To be a leader is to take full ownership for your best qualities and abilities, and gift them to the greater world through your presence and actions.
As a young woman, I was hungry for power and influence. From my middle school years onward, I was a consummate leader. My siblings, school mates and later my co-workers would most likely have told you I was bossy, competitive and a compulsive overachiever, but my mother knew different.
She sensed I was a gifted, high energy person adapting to the cultural options available to me for power and leadership. She steered me into a business education and corporate career, and couldn’t have been prouder when I graduated top of my MBA class and lined myself up for a prestigious consulting career.
Pivotal events conspired to rewire my understanding of power and leadership: the lightning flash of insight that my material, achievement-driven life was bereft of soul; my refusal to follow a career that required me to operate as a man in my woman’s body; and waking up to the mean-spirited, abusive underbelly of my culturally inherited, hierarchical model of leadership.
In this leadership model, leaders stand out from the crowd by being better or more than their competition: more brainy, more skilled, more charismatic, more influential, more connected, more aggressive, more of whatever attributes are lauded in a particular environment. Power is to be hoarded and shared among the limited, most worthy few.
Photo Credit: Karina Carvalho on Unsplash
Our culture trains us to believe that only special people — the superstars of politics, business, sports, the arts — can have real influence and power in society. We give them the center stage, the microphone, our adulation and make them our leaders, while our own light is dimmed by their giant shadows.
While it is true that people with money, charisma and acclaimed talents do wield a disproportional share of societal influence and power, it doesn’t follow that they are the primary change agents in our world.
Over and over again, my dreams have been telling me one clear message: humanity is riding an evolutionary edge, and that transformative, life-affirming change will happen at the individual level, and then be passed on, person to person, in a great, long chain of touching and being touched by others.
Recently I had a powerful dream that speaks to this message.
In this dream, I am at a political rally with my partner. Two politicians are on stage delivering their speeches. They smile, look good, and make grand promises, but it is nothing but double-speak and empty words.
My partner takes the microphone from them, gives it to me and asks, “What are your thoughts on politics and leadership?”
And this is how my dream self responds: “Each one of us must ask ourselves, right now, this moment: What do we want as our personal legacy of our precious time on this planet? Are we not accountable for the future well-being of our children, and our children’s children, and the other life forms that share this world with us? Do we have the right to just do what we want and leave others to pay for our excesses? Can we stand by while our economic, political and social systems lead us down a destructive path?
“These questions apply to all of us, the citizens of this Earth. The time of expecting others to fix the problem, of recklessly pursuing our self-interest, and of burying our head in the sand is done.
“Be you poet, politician, gardener, caretaker, tycoon or gravedigger — it does not matter what you do, it matters who you are. The world needs you to show up more deeply and profoundly as yourself, and to trust that this is your part to play. What you have to offer is worthy; it is enough.
“Change begins when you settle your mantle of leadership upon your own shoulders, and when you stop grasping outside of yourself at things that can never feed your soul. Because what you most deeply desire is not money, nor power, nor the pretty trappings of the material world, but to live an authentic life, based on what is best and beautiful inside of you, and to reach out and honor the same in others.
“We humans are brilliant creatures that can solve most anything we set our heart and will to. We can be leaders in our own circles of influence, partner with those of like mind and intention, and set right the abuses and excesses of human society. Together, we can mend our hearts, our homes, our communities and our precious planet home.
“We each hold the destiny of humanity and this Earth in our hands. I call you to put on your mantle of leadership, to straighten your back, hold your head proud, and get to work.”Claiming Your Personal Leadership
This dream is an invitation for each of us to claim our personal mantle of leadership. Though this is the work of a lifetime, here are three initial steps to help you begin this crucial task.