I recently went to a 3-day seminar where true leadership was part of the training. For me to really grasp the content it took hours, if not days. Then I have had to live with myself for weeks to really recognize how these insights apply to my life. Since I am really slow and stubborn, and you’re not, I believe that sharing this bit of understanding in a page is going to be super effective for you!
Is this typical or what:
You’re in the back and wished you had that great “spot” in the front?
Feeling frustrated because people ask questions about “dumb stuff that isn’t even important, and now you’re wasting time on unimportant stuff!”?
What about being with a group of friends or co-workers and you’re totally unaware of what’s going on in their lives or how they are doing?
Or, gone to Zumba and realized that….. “Gee I have been doing Zumba in this Monday class off and on for 2 years with you all and I don’t even know one of your names?”
Not to mention thinking your way is best so, “what in the world are YOU thinking!”
And, “Man that driver is so stupid, pulling in front of me and slowing down.”
Also that general feeling of irritation over waiting for someone, listening to someone, having to watch someone, driving someone or anything else you didn’t want to do for someone.
And could we go on? Yes!
It’s all kind of laughable. I can see us all running around in our fast, spontaneous, over achieving little world, yelling about all of these ways others are putting us out. “How dare you make me wait for a few seconds because you pulled in front of me and it cost me one second of my time, I had to actually touch my brake.” “How dare you talk to that person in line ahead of me and slow your ability to check me out faster.” ETC.!
It’s typical. And if you just pay attention for a few days, you’ll notice even more stinky stuff that has to do with how you relate to the people in your 5 foot circle world.
(If you’re saying, “No, not me”, pay attention. You may change your mind.)
I am not just bringing this up to pain us or laugh at us, I actually have learned something about this I am dying to give away, and it’s that wonderful.
It all started last Friday, (actually I wrote this weeks ago but refuse to do anymore editing), when I was in my first day of the Landmark seminar. The forum leader started talking right off the bat about how, “We are the group.” (I was a deer in the head light thinking, what does that even mean, we are the group? It’s not even good grammar. He talked about it for an hour and I still felt the same way about it.) Then he said something about being, “Self as others.” (What in the world does that mean? And that still is not good grammar!) Then he talked about, “We are all the same, no matter our language, color of skin, or body type.” (I got that one). I related it to we are all children of God and so I felt like, Oh yea I got this. Then he said, “I am you, and you are me”, then I was back to, “I don’t get it”. He talked this way for quite a while. Then he started in on true leadership means you effect the group. It’s not just good enough for you to be here, sitting in your chair, all about yourself. (I was like, I just got here, don’t blame me, I don’t even know these people). It’s not just enough for you to be about your own learning and state of being, it’s not enough for you to just be glad you filled your assignment, it’s not enough that you’re on time. It’s all about did you affect the people around you to learn, fulfill assignments and be on time. True leadership is about you affecting the people around you. You are not successful until others are successful. You don’t achieve until others achieve.
I eventually heard and understood his words, in my mind, and eventually I thought they sounded great too, but I didn’t really understand in my heart enough to go out and start changing the world around me. I call it head learning; my heart wasn’t transforming but my brain understood the concepts. “I am you, you are me.” “We can’t be successful unless all of us are successful.” “We are the group, you are not just an individual.” Etc. I got it. But it didn’t mean I started doing anything different. I still just sat there and listened.
Then he talked about individuals make up partnerships, make up families, make up groups, make up communities, make up societies, make up the world. It all starts with the individual, to be able to effect any kind of group, community or the world.
At one point he actually asked me! “What have you done to show true leadership in this room today?” I was like, “Who me? What are you taking about, I am just a little guy, here to listen and learn for myself, don’t bother me with others. I don’t have the energy for that. I’m just sittin here minding my own business, leave me alone.”
Of course I didn’t say all of that, I’m no dummy. I was just silently thinking it. Now just stick with me here.
Throughout the next three days the group leader kept going around and asking what we had done to show true leadership that day. How had we lifted and raised the level of the group. What had we done to make the group more effective, more powerful, and more confident? And he didn’t just talk about it! He gave us an object lesson that took days. This is what he did to actually affect change in us: He wasn’t nice! He demanded that we were all on time and helping others be on time too, and if we weren’t, we all paid the price. You could tell he didn’t care if we liked him, and I wasn’t not liking him to much at all. He wouldn’t teach us anything, (we paid good money and we all wanted to learn and he wouldn’t teach), and then he would go on and on for hours talking about our inability to effect change in our individual lives because we weren’t effecting change in our group. FOR HOURS! Oh my gosh! Hours of confronting us, holding our feet to the fire about what we weren’t doing to help each other. And it took hours for us to get that we need to be intense with each other; forceful, fighting mad so to speak. At one point he said, “You Utah people are way too nice, you’re so afraid of being socially correct that you can’t demand anyone change.” That hurt.
But eventually we got it. The group became all of us. We demanded everyone to be on time, with assignments done and we all made sure of it. We got each other’s phone numbers and called each other. We held everyone accountable to have their assignments done. By all of us holding each other accountable literally everyone; all 120 participants were 20 min early. I’ve never seen that before in my life! We were a nervous wreck if someone was only 10 min early. We all paid the price if everyone didn’t complete their assignments so we were all texting each other to find out if anyone needed help. No one left early either. It was an amazing experience in how true leadership doesn’t back down, holds people accountable, expects integrity in all things, (actually, more like demands integrity) and is bold and direct. He didn’t care if we liked him, he cared that we changed. He loved us and wanted our growth more than he wanted us to love him.
I have to admit I am a pleaser, fixer, meet people’s expectations kind of girl, so I caught on real fast that I need to get out of my comfort; “me only”, zone and do what he was asking. So I went through the motions, doing what he expected. But remember what I said about things take me a long time. So yea. I got the specifics of what the expectation of action was, but I was still going through the motions. Essentially I hadn’t changed, I was just performing out of fear.
Until half way through the last day. We had been talking for an hour on something I did not want to talk about. It was frustrating. A guy kept asking questions that I felt was not important to what was pertinent. I was not feeling very patient. It was that, “Quit asking dumb stuff”, kind of attitude. Then our Forum leader said, “Ok, are we good, everyone got it? Let’s go on.” I whispered under my breath, “Thank goodness, were finally going to get on with it.” My cute little group leader sitting next to me whispered, “Melonie, self as others remember? If someone in the group needed that and got something out of it, then we all got something out of it. We are the group.”
Man that shot into my heart like a lazer. I am the group! I am no better or worse than anyone else. If they need it, I need it! I am just a unit in the whole. And this whole doesn’t lift, raise or increase if even one unit of the whole isn’t lifting, raising or increasing. If they are successful, I am successful! If they hurt, then I hurt! I am connected in a fundamental way to everyone around me; equally and completely. We have a common fundamental thread of humanity. We are ALL Children of God. I am the group. For the first time in my life, I saw myself not as an individual, but as just a part of the whole. I had a powerful heart change.
So this is the rest of the story:
I woke up Monday morning after the seminar, late for Zumba (as I expressed in my earlier post), and headed off feeling really good. I was on fire for all the great things I had learned over the weekend.
As I got to Zumba I felt energy and freedom and so happy to be there. As I started zumba-ing, I heard the normal voice inside me saying, “Rats I’m late so I don’t have a front spot.” (I hate being in the back). Then I realized from my great training over the weekend, “NO, if she’s in the front, it’s just like you are in the front.” We are the group.
Then I heard the normal voice say, “I wish I had a better spot so I could see.” I reminded myself that if she has a good spot, then I have a good spot.
It changed me so much to actually apply the thing I had learned in my everyday life. I felt so glad that the girl in the front, had the front, and that the girl right in front of me had a better spot and could see. I felt amazing.
Then I again realized that it isn’t enough for me to be feeling good. That’s meaningless. I have to effect this community and little world around me for good. “But how am I going to do that?” How do I take others with me in a Zumba class? I was brave, this is what I did. After the next set of songs there was a break in the music. I actually started turning and yelling with my hands in the air, “We are so amazing!” I even jumped up and down. It was a little ridiculous but everyone started laughing and the whole room felt more friendly and energized.
During the next break, after the next set of songs I started jumping again, (I couldn’t help it I felt so much amazing energy). I yelled, “We are having the biggest victory, coming to Zumba early on a Monday morning!” They all started jumping and yelling too. The energy in the room again increased. We were all yelling and jumping. It was great.
At the end we all were talking about how much fun we had and how great the teacher was. And I understood. True leadership means you take people with you. It’s not enough for you “to be”, you have to help others “to be” also.
And then the class ended and I looked around and sadly thought to myself, “I have been coming to Zumba off and on for two years now and I don’t even know one of your names.” That was eye opening.
I realized one more thing. I have been silently saying to strangers, “You all cost too much energy for me to talk to you.” So I haven’t been extending myself very well since being home from the mission. All my energy was going into surviving. Even when I started feeling better, I think I was sub-consciously protecting my energy and just wouldn’t extend myself.
Ok so I wrote that about a month ago. Since then I have tried to become more aware of seeing myself as others, and I have learned a lot.
My main take-aways are:
When I see others success as my own I feel so amazingly different. It’s hard to explain, but it changes me instantly. When someone else’s children are experiencing success, that’s my success. When someone’s house or yard is clean and beautiful, that’s my success. When someone else is getting a good education, a great job, a promotion, an award, the best spot, that is all of our success. We are the group. We are together. We are not against each other. We are not to compare or compete. That is a barrier. True leadership elevates others. God’s way is truly that love that sees us as each other. Self as Others. We are the group.
This is the most life changing way of seeing people.
When I see myself as the group I no longer feel mad about the guy who just cut me off and then went slow, or the work and sacrifices I make that I don’t receive credit for, or even scared to write a blog post. I am just a part in the whole.
And it’s never enough for me to just be feeling and doing good. My improvement is really unimportant if it doesn’t translate into others improvement too. True leadership is Godly work. It means you are not successful if others are not successful. If I don’t spread energy, confidence, ability, kindness, acceptance, and any other good thing, then it was kind of a waste. Because it’s not about you, it’s about seeing your place in the whole and then lifting it; the partnership, the family, the group, the community, the society, the world. You are an individual part in a whole. What will you do to effect that whole?
I am not perfect at this. But I love it and I want to continue to invite it to become a part of me. It’s a beautiful way of being.
Self as Others.
I am the group.