What am I missing?

thinkerWhat am I missing?

What I am I not seeing?

These are questions we must (MUST) ask ourselves in the course of life, especially in a life that is froth with difficulty and struggle: the life of a leader.

I find that even the experts encounter surprise and the unexpected as they pursue what seems like a life that should be motivated by a clear, obvious, purposeful agenda.

And yet—more often than not—the journey of a leader is clouded with pain, with obstacles, and with a sense that the leader is off track.

The trick, I think, is to find the balance between drive and humility.

Between knowing and learning.

Between arrogance and courage.

Between culture and reason.

Between good and evil—and finding the place that informs excellence in practice—instead of a place hidden between the stubborn and the subordinate.

It’s a fine line—to be sure.

I see it in politics.

I see it in church.

I see it in self.

And I do not have the answer.

I do know, though, that when I listen instead of shout—when I stop instead of go—I am more likely to find the elusive answer.

When someone breaks down, I try not to automatically assume that it’s my fault (while it may be). Instead, I try to find a compassionate way to inquire into Other’s need or pain.

I try to ask what might be going on outside of my little world.

And then I try to ask what IS going on inside each of us.  It’s a struggle to be honest with Self.  To be sacrificial

This is an exercise in fortitude, commitment and humility.

And I often fail.

And still I try.

Again.  And again.

One Response to What am I missing?

  1. March 4, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Thank you Nathaniel. This was so timely for me. Being a leader is hard. Sometimes we forget to care for ourselves. Sometimes we forget to be merciful to those whom follow us. This is best summarized in the poem the Paradox of Leadership:

    The paradoxes of being a “Servant-Leader” poem (p29)

    Strong enough to be weak

    Successful enough to fail

    Busy enough to make time

    Wise enough to say “I don’t know”

    Serious enough to laugh

    Rich enough to be poor

    Right enough to say “I’m wrong”

    Compassionate enough to discipline

    Mature enough to be childlike

    Important enough to be last

    Planned enough to be spontaneous

    Controlled enough to be flexible

    Free enough to endure captivity

    Knowledgeable enough to ask questions

    Loving enough to be angry

    Great enough to be anonymous

    Responsible enough to play

    Assured enough to be rejected

    Victdorious enough to lose

    Industrious enough to relax

    Leading enough to serve

    Poem by Brewer — as cited by Hansel, in Holy Sweat, Dallas Texas, Word, 1987. (p29)

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Nathaniel is CEO of AidChild.org. He holds a Master's Degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard University where he was a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and winner of the 2010 Harvard HDP Marshal Award. He also holds a PhD in Leadership Studies from the University of San Diego where he was the Dammeyer Fellow in Global Education Leadership, and a Cordes Fellow at Opportunity Collaboration. Nathaniel is author of "We Are Not Mahogany: Three stories about the male African life." Prior to his move to Uganda in 2000, Nathaniel was Deputy Director of the Office of the Governor of Arizona, and Director of Education at Leadership, Inc.

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