When I watch the Olympics, I am reminded that the road to success is not only about how you start, but it is also how you finish. There were several occasions when athletes who looked like they were about to win the gold medal ended up either placing silver or bronze or not even placing at all. When I see many champions perform their best, I marvel at the amount of time and effort that they devoted to their sport in order to reach their peak conditions. They truly are inspiring in many ways. For those who need inspiration, remember that attaining success involves pacing, persistence, and patience.
Rashōmon (羅生門), one of 黒澤明 /Kurosawa Akira’s exceptional movies, is based on 芥川龍之介 /Akutagawa Ryūnosuke’s short story “In the Grove” (藪の中). I first watched it in a film studies course where we analyzed the use of lighting, camera angles, music, and structure of the film to understand how they underscore the themes of equality, truth, and hope in post-war Japan. A few years later, I encountered the film in a leadership course. Seen from a leadership perspective, the movie takes on a new meaning. The dynamics of the film were no longer ideas to be analyzed and entertained for the sake of discussion; they had visible consequences for an individual and an organization. Rashōmon challenges leaders to handle the complex nature of truth and the truth about human nature not within the confines of a film, but in the unpredictable course of life.
Purpose is indispensable. When we apply for college, grants or jobs, we typically submit a statement of purpose or talk about our reason for applying during an interview. When we continue a particular activity, we normally have a reason for doing so. Purpose in those scenarios is easily identifiable; however, when we are asked about our ultimate ‘why,’ many of us have trouble articulating our response. As Os Guinness says, “the trouble is that, as modern people, we have too much to live with and too little to live for. Some feel they have time but not enough money; others feel they have money but not enough time. But for most of us, in the midst of material plenty, we have spiritual poverty” (2003, p. 4). Abundance, material wealth, and accessible pleasures have generated a hunger for meaning.
“What is my purpose for living?” I assume many of us have asked a variation of this question at some point in our lives. We seem to have a feeling that we are meant to do more with our lives, but we do not always know what path to choose. We seek to identify and understand our ‘calling.’ Continue reading “Purpose and Calling”
One of the more recent realizations that I had about leadership was the responsibility of leaders to raise everyone’s level of consciousness. It is another way of saying that leaders will open up competing views of reality and ‘truth’ and ideally equip the team to make the most informed decision about certain issues. With heightened consciousness comes the realization that there are choices and each one carries consequences. To what extent this consciousness is raised depends on the leader’s own level of awareness and capability to ‘wake’ people up. Leaders have to be lifelong learners and continually build their understanding about the DNA of ultimate reality in order to select which lessons to emphasize and pass on to the team. Continue reading “Leaders, Heightened Consciousness, and Heavy Choices”