“The religions start from mysticism. There is no other way to start a religion. But, I compare this to a volcano that gushes forth …and then …the magma flows down the sides of the mountain and cools off. And when it reaches the bottom, it’s just rocks. You’d never guess that there was a fire in it. So after a couple of hundred years, or two thousand years or more, what was once alive is dead rock. Doctrine becomes doctrinaire. Morals become moralistic. Ritual becomes ritualistic. What do we do with it? We have to push through this crust and go to the fire that’s within it.”
Yesterday I found this powerful metaphor from David Steindl-Rast, a Catholic Benedictine monk. The beauty of this metaphor is that it can be applied to any organisation.
Just replace the word “religion” with “form” or “configuration”. With the word configuration, I mean all the visible and invisible elements that define the “HOW” of an organisation.
Then replace “mysticism” with “consciousness” or “energy”; the true self, the bigger “WHO” of an organisation.
Then the sentence reads: “The form starts from consciousness. There is no other way to start a form. But, I compare this to a volcano that gushes forth …and then …the magma flows down the sides of the mountain and cools off. And when it reaches the bottom, it’s just rocks. You’d never guess that there was a fire in it. So after a couple of hundred years, or two thousand years or more, what was once alive is dead rock. Ideas become risks. Principles become bureaucracy. Ritual becomes routine. What do we do with it? We have to push through this crust and go to the fire that’s within it.”
How many organisation do you know that are in that place? Where the original fire now is just some dead rocks?
And what about you?
Because this metaphor works beautifully also for us, as individuals.
Is your flame, your energy still alive or did you allow for the time to cover it beneath solid rocks?
Every transformation journey starts with removing all those layers of solid rocks to find the original fire and reignite the volcano.
How much attention do you put on the words you use?
A few days ago, while I was checking the news online, a headline captured my attention. It was about UN chief António Guterres who, during an of the year press event, called all countries in the world for a renewed commitment to a “rules-based global order“.
Words create worlds.
They have this power.
This is why it is so important to choose wisely the words that you use.
In your own life but it’s even more critical when you are a leader. As leaders, the language we use helps shape the cultures we lead.
So, what does a “rules-based global order” says about the world the leader of UN envision? To me, it talks about a world based on fear and lack of trust. It talks about protecting the status-quo instead of moving towards the future.
Is this the world that you want?
I know for sure it’s not the world that I want.
I’m ready to commit to a “values-inspired global vision“. One driven by trust, love, compassion, forward thinking.
What about your words?
Are they reflecting the world that you want to create in your life?
To empower means to give (someone) the authority or power to do something. Or, more broadly, to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.
Being able to empower others is often listed among the pillars of an effective leader.
When we empower someone we are giving the same power we have. An empowered person gains control over her work or life.
In organisations, empowering everyone is a crucial ingredient to create a democratic and flat organisation. One in which, everyone raises to the same level creating co-leadership.
Though, there is a fascinating paradox in empowerment.
When we, as leaders, are empowering others, somehow we are elevating ourselves one layer above them. They may have now the power to do something, but we are the ones who gave them the power. So, we are still above them, and they have less power than we have.
Isn’t that through the empowerment of others we are in reality reinforcing our own power?
What would change if instead of empowering others we create the space in which they can awaken their inner power by themselves?