What is an Activist Contemplative Leader?

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 in Blog, Leadership, Spiritual Life | 4 Comments

From an early age, I was an activist.  I was deeply committed to justice, and caught up by politics and causes.  I ached to respond to the people and the needs I saw in the world all around me.  I have always been organized and strategic, a natural campaigner.

More recently, I have become more contemplative.  Still deeply committed to justice, my life has become more about knowing my true self and putting my core values into practice.  With a growing appreciation for reflection, silence, and my inner monasticism, I am more willing to trust my instincts.  I am more thirsty for solitude.

An activist tends to see their entire lifetime reflected in a single moment; a contemplative can spend all of their life aware of each present moment.

Some people see activism and contemplation in opposition to each other.  For me, the challenge is finding the balance that encompasses both; finding the ways to be an activist contemplative leader.

This balanced leadership is marked by three traits:

The first is Openness.  Activist contemplative leaders are open to other people and to new ideas.  They are open to the world around them, and open to new ways of engaging that world.  They recognize that rushing into a decision may be based in fear and the need to control a situation.  They also recognize that action needs to be timely and relevant to be meaningful.

The second is Authenticity.  Activist contemplative leaders know themselves deeply.  Their true selves connect with the true selves of the people around them.  They recognize their own core values and vision, and share those resources with the world around them.  They recognize their own limitations and boundaries, and collaborate with others.

The third is Focus on Community.  Activist contemplative leaders are connected to the people they lead.  Their shared values and vision help establish working communities that can recognize their own strengths and develop clear goals.  They appreciate the importance of honest, fair processes, as well as the need to produce results.

Who do you see as an activist contemplative leader?

[Image by qthomasbower]

4 Comments

  1. Jon M
    November 8, 2011

    Greg, Really can relate to your movement. In some respects, this may be a promotion of “old style” leadership, meaning that these leaders need to also be centered in a life philosophy and are willing to teach/share it with others. Posts that make me think are my favorite, and this one accomplished it! Thank you. Jon

    Reply
    • Strategic Monk
      November 8, 2011

      Thank you, Jon. I see that centeredness, that leadership which flows out of the leader’s true self, as the remedy to the “leaders” we experience as going through the motions today. So many people in positions of responsibility seem to be enticed by the pragmatic benefits they receive; almost stuck in positions in which they are uncomfortable. They seem not to have much meaning to share.
      I appreciate that this post gave you fuel for reflection.

      Reply
  2. Matthew Schuler
    November 19, 2011

    This is brilliant! There is a lot to think about and unpack here, have you ever considered writing a book?

    Reply
    • Strategic Monk
      November 19, 2011

      Thank you, Matthew. What you say means a great deal to me, and I have been thinking that a book would be a great way to share these ideas with a wider group of people.

      Reply

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