By: Daryl Watson On: June 19, 2018 In: Blog Comments: 0

Maybe, just maybe, after all these years, finally, I am starting to learn. My wife and I are just back from a week long break in Austria, to beautiful Salzburg and Vienna. For the first time, frankly, in too long a time, we actually stopped. Yes, I mean stopped. And not just for a few seconds either! We noticed what was going on around us. We took in the beauty of our natural world and began to put our lives and those things that matter most into perspective.

In a post from a few years ago (2014) in an article entitled Leadership Essentials Ownership vs Stewardship I wrote “As each year passes by, I have become increasingly aware of the illusion of ownership and the world’s pre-occupation with it. Oftentimes, I reflect on the fact we were born into this life with nothing, during our journey through life we exercise our greatest gift of free agency, (the right to choose), and with the exception of our memories and experiences we depart this mortal life with nothing”. Recently, those words have come back to haunt me. Frequently, they have played onto the stage of my mind, over and over again. How often and how easy is it for all of us to get caught up in the thick of thin things. Periodically, (including me), I get caught up in those things that really don’t matter too much, to the detriment of those things that do.

Recently whilst facilitating a leadership workshop, yet again, I was reminded of Habit 2, of Stephen Covey’s, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People…. “Begin with the End in Mind”. Have you been caught up in the “busyness” of life, working harder and harder for the illusion of ownership? You may even be climbing the ladder of success, only to finally arrive there and find that you were leaning your ladder up against the wrong wall! Time and again, as a professional coach, I work with clients who discover this reality.

  • Do yo know what you want to accomplish in life? Do you know where you are going?
  • Do you begin each day or each week with a clear objective with what you want to achieve?

From my 2014 post again “Consider a few words – pride, envy, fear, stress, frustration. Now think about the cause and effect of these words. Remove the idea of ownership and the foundational characteristic of each of these words collapses. As we understand the reality of stewardship and apply the principle in our home, family and business life, we can replace these characteristics with their polar opposites – humility, empathy, courage, peace, fulfilment. Observing the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world in which we live – we all need to change our perspectives and consider the power of stewardship.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbour life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.” – Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

Although the Hallstatt valley in Austria looked incredible from the Lakeside, it was only when we ascended to the mountain tops did the true splendour of the entire valley come into perspective. In our daily interactions with others, be it in the workplace, managing a challenging team, setting out a new organisational direction, or even in your home around the dinner table this evening, my invitation today is that all of us must learn to slow down a little and consider what really matters most. In other words …. STOP!! “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” As a youngster, I never appreciated this as much as I do now. In my personal, family and business life it is the seemingly small, insignificant things that actually knit together the pattern of our lives. Over time, those small and simple things, can become great things. Look out for one happening today.

So what do you think?

  • Why is perspective a hallmark of authentic leadership?
  • Why is perspective needed for cultural change?
  • How can you use this post to create a more visionary organisation?
  • How does this apply to my team members?

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