Leading is a verb. It is how we practice leadership in the moment, in any given moment. And each moment may require us to do the leading differently. However, the constant in all those different moments is us. So, it would be helpful if we were aware of how we lead ourselves, in leading now.
Leading self. The art and practice of reflection invites us to find a grounding within us – a home base. As Noel Davis, author of Campfire of the Heart, shares in his poem, a pause,
“a walkabout place for Source to search out soul
estranged and out of focus
some elbow room
in a crowd of noise and words
a break away from push and shove
a moment at home with oneself”
I found my home base when I made my first eight-day silent retreat at the age of eighteen while attending the University of San Francisco, a Jesuit university.
A priest friend at USF was giving an eight-day silent retreat called the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius to a group of Carmelite sisters in Alhambra over intercession. Since I was returning to Orange County over the six week break, and I didn’t have any particular plans, I thought the invitation to join the experience seemed interesting enough. I was not wrong
Admittedly, it took a few days to drop into the practice of silence, including at meals. The distinct advantage back in the 1970’s was the absence of cell phones. Without them, one could easily drop off the grid, without any concern from others.
The gifts of that first silent retreat were to be unpacked over the decades that followed. And the primary gift was finding a space within where I could be at home with myself. It became the space where I would “search out soul” and develop a deep respect for quiet reflection. I made my next eight-day silent retreat a year later. I was hooked on what silence offered me in discovering my home base and continued to be a regular pilgrim to the quiet within.
Have you discovered your home base? What practices do you have to visit as frequently as possible? How has the art and practice of reflection enriched you as a person and as a leader? Leading now begins with being at home with self.