The Challenge of Being Strong in Your Self
For a lot of people who have worked in various organizations and businesses the big challenge is the realization that the CEO or head is often stuck developmentally around the age of 5. If you think about letting a 5 year old be in charge of an organization, they run into a number of big challenges. First of all when they are under stress, their fall back position is to only think about their own selves and protect what they have. What that often looks like is the use of power to protect their own interests. They can have a lot of fear about being innovative because a 5 year old cannot look very far into the future. Does this sound like people you know or even some world leaders? Scary thought!!
The difficulty, when facing immaturity, is how to stay strong within your own true self and move forward in actualizing a higher vision, and not reverting into your own 5 year old fighting back at them. We have a few great examples in the not so distant past that can inform us perhaps of how to stay strong. They include people like Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Aung San Suu Kyi to name just a few. It seems to me that in the face of governments or cultures that were run by 5 year olds they needed to have some very specific capacities. If we were to apply those capacities in whatever situation we are currently in, we too might be successful with our long term visions.
What are they?
I think one of the great capacities they all had was patience. 5 year olds don’t have much patience. If you think back to when you were actually 5, you may have heard an adult say something like “patience is a virtue”. But I remember as a 5 year old that I hated that expression because I didn’t have a very long time frame. Nelson Mandela spent 26 years in prison before the South African government abandoned apartheid. Aung San Suu Kyi spent 15 years under house arrest in Myanmar (formerly Burma). Patience allows you pick the right time to do things and to stop time internally. It allows you to erase time as a factor because patience extends the amount of time you actually have to achieve something.
Another of the capacities was their ability to see exactly what they wanted in the future that was both positive and inclusive. A 5 year old under stress is exclusive and destructive, but the vision of the above leaders has been to create a society that includes everyone with equality and equity. Even though Americans have a long way to go yet with racial issues, you can see Martin Luther King’s vision actually having been realized in so many places.
The other great capacity that they have had is the ability to let go of hurt and pain caused at the hands of the 5 year olds. They didn’t take the path of revenge. To me this may be the greatest capacity that they have had. It is the ability to not fight back with vengeance even though the injustice has been horrific.
Patience- Inclusive Vision- Letting go of Hurt
I am sure that you can think of other capacities that were also in use, but these stand out in my mind as the ones you need to be strong in yourself when facing negative leadership. If you practice them, you can hold a vision for decades.