I have to admit, there was a time when it was also an aspiration of mine.
However, I have shifted. I’m no longer that interested in thought leadership. I am much more inspired and interested in relational leadership.
Even up at The Haven, over the years I know there’s been a desire to make Haven a thought leadership center.
Maybe that was the mission of the founders, Ben Wong and Jock Mckeen, at one point. It is likely that they were thought leaders. But more than anything else, I think they were relational leaders.
That is where The Haven shines!
When I arrived at The Haven, I did not really have a clue what it meant to be relational. I had spent most of my life defended and surviving.
I don’t want to be too harsh with myself about that. Through rocky, challenging times, I had come up with some pretty creative ways to make my way in the world. I didn’t have a clue just how guarded and protected I had become.
My walls and armor started cracking during my first Come Alive. I was in awe of what I witnessed. The compassion, the vulnerability, and the curiosity that I saw offered to each person in our circle was truly moving.
We all have judgments about what we see and experience. The Haven offered a path for sharing those judgements. Sharing those judgments through storytelling is used as a way of letting someone else know how they see the world. Judgements are not bad, judgements are simply stories worth checking out and using as a bridge to reveal how each of us put our reality together.
The key was a willingness to own my story-making and be curious about sharing that with another to see if they agreed or disagreed.
That shift was huge for me. I could be curious and get feedback. Sometimes I would, and still do, get feedback that I hurt myself. Feedback is like a location device. Instead of taking it all so personally, I allow myself to absorb the information as though someone were telling me in real time where and how they were connecting with me. I also understand that this is a path to locating myself.
Over the years I have come too discover that these relational tools are not thought-based. These tools—along with breath, attention and awareness—are spiritual and embodied.
I reveal my location in the world when I reveal myself, without proving, defending or fighting. This is incredibly vulnerable and very relational. You see, to me, this is relational leadership at its best. Locating ourselves with each other with openness, honesty and curiosity.
So that’s why I think thought leadership is overrated. What we need today is more relational leadership. Leading that is built around honesty, vulnerability, curiosity and compassion. Now that takes courage and, frankly, I believe that is a lot harder than just thinking of new ideas.
The truth is—leadership is all about relationships!
Try on sharing your judgements as a path of vulnerability and location setting (declaring where you are in any moment) . Get curious about how your inner story-telling came to be. Get curious about how someone else might be putting those pieces together very differently.
Get curious about really relating!