Heart of a Leader

Leadership Matters

Real Conversations at the Heart of the Matter

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth. – Benjamin Disraeli

 

“When is the last time that you had a great conversation? A conversation which wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversations in this culture. When have you had a great conversation in which you overheard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew, that you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you had thought you had lost and a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you onto a different plane and fourthly a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards” These words are from a conversation with poet John ODonough during a segment of the weekly broadcast of Speaking of Faith.

couple talking

As I was listening to this conversation with the late Irish poet, I reflected on the type of conversations that I typically have with leaders in business. Our focus is often on the problems at hand. We are looking for solutions that will produce the best outcome in the shortest time possible. We might be talking about the stress the leader is feeling from having too little time and too many responsibilities. Perhaps, we are talking about a financial challenge that seems insurmountable.

What we are not talking about is the soul of the organization – the inner core that is who the organization is. This essence can readily be seen through the external circumstances and relationships the company finds. We are not talking about slowing down to understand the phenomena of the challenges we see. We are not talking about what we can be grateful for and what they can do to be in service to those whose lives we touch.

What is missing to have this type of conversation? I suppose it is about opening up my heart. Focusing my attention on the real person I am being present with. Talking with them about things that matter more than the next quarter’s financial results or shipping a product on time. For when I focus only on these factors, the qualities that make the organization great are missed.

I remembered the last time I had one of these conversations. I was with a friend who is also a client. We were having dinner together and as the evening unfolded we began to talk about what really mattered to us both. We talked about our aspirations for our lives. We talked about our frustrations and how they helped us see ourselves more clearly. We let the spirit of the hawk take us to new heights. I remember that this conversation stayed with me for many days.

As I write this, I wonder why I don’t walk to this place more often. Why do I stay in the familiar territory of facts and actions and not the let the drum beat of my soul arise to meet all the other souls that want to join it in conversation.

Something to reflect upon.

Until later.

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4 thoughts on “Real Conversations at the Heart of the Matter

  1. Thomas,
    For me, there is an old fear hiding in the shadows that whispers to me that if I reveal too much of my self, my eternal and spiritual self;

    the part of me that lives in awe of the people and the beauty that surrounds me. the part of me that dreams such big dreams. that loves so deeply. cares so much…

    …to someone that I don’t know very well, that I will be thought weird; or that I will scare them away. Too deep, too soon.

    pete

  2. Pete

    Thank you for your openness. What is it that I am afraid of in showing all of myself to the world. I have the sense that the answer to that question is at the heart of suffering. It may also be a the heart of all separation I feel that keeps me for accepting my life as it is.

  3. You two are amazing! Your thoughtfulness, your heart – it inspires me!

    My son has this quality of openness, intuitiveness and joy that I want to be careful to nurture and protect. It’s discouraging to see how, now that he’s in Grade 1 and away at school all day, he’s starting to pull away from that, to feel like he shouldn’t cry or show his emotions in front of others, to hesitate that split second before he come running to my open arms.

    Where does that come from?? I recently read some of Terrence Real’s books. He writes about relationships and male depression – including some very thought provoking chapters about “physcological patriarchy”. He has very interesting insight into how we raise our boys to feel shame for having feelings and emotions – for straying too far from the rational or logical.

    I hope that this perspective will help me continue to support my son to be just who he is, no matter what the world tells him!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Heidi

  4. Heidi

    We have four boys at home, two of whom are in the public school system. There are a number of beliefs that are ingrown into our culture that are transmitted to our children. This transmission is done unconsciously. For instance, they belief that “boys don’t cry” has along history that originates with not showing weakness or you might be killed or at least enslaved. Now we know that is not the concren today, yet the belief prevails.

    As you support your son, remind him that he can decide what is best for himself and that will always be the best path to follow. For following someone else beliefs will never let his spirit soar.

    Thomas

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