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]