An Elusive Leadership Skill

People in the normal state seek to stay in their zone of comfort. This leads to stagnation and is what Thoreau had in mind when he spoke of people living lives of quiet desperation. Quiet desperation is the normal condition for vast numbers of the workforce, including managers at all levels.

An alternative is to move forward into the face of uncertainty. This is what leaders do. When they do not know what to do, they pursue their purpose by choosing to move in the crucible of anxiety. They then stay there until they discover what to try next.

I believe that choosing to enter the crucible of anxiety is a skill. The more we choose to enter the crucible of anxiety, the more we discover the power of the kind of learning that occurs there. It is deep or transformative learning.

We eventually learn to discipline ourselves to move towards the crucible and stay. This skill makes us different. We begin to know things other people cannot know. We have more vision and deeper wisdom. We can communicate the simplicity from the other side of complexity. We become fully aware and fully alive and we bring more energy to our community. We are no longer living in quiet desperation, neither are the people we lead.

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