Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: The Soul of Leadership 1

A Book to Wonder at:

Rome by carriage, Maggio 1, 2011
Being a book lover I have many books to wonder at, perchance to read, pore over, consider, contemplate and even meditate upon.  As a young poor boy, books provided the sole window into wonder for my young impressionable imagination.  Like all good things, the wonder still lasts to this day.  I really don't know where I'd be without books?  Then again, as a meditator and would-be Buddhist, I realize the silliness of the last question here.  After all, the literal answer to that question I posed is nothing but the one syllabled word "here!"  This reminds me of yet another wonderful book, "Wherever you go, there you are!"  Now, that's a Buddhist title for you.  However, it was after all a mere rhetorical question seeking no answer!  The book I wish to consider in this post is The Soul of Leadership: Unlocking your potential for Greatness by Deepak Chopra (Rider, 2010)

Link between Leadership and Soul

You will notice in these ruminations here a clear link with Coehlo's little masterpiece which I reviewed in the post immediately prior to this one, as that too, to my mind was also about leadership.  When one gets to know oneself in a profound way - and I have already adverted many times in these posts to Carl Gustave Jung's contention that getting to know oneself is a perilous and dangerous business because in the task of integrating the shadow side of self and all those subpersonalities (often shown in the masks we wear) we have to undertake of journey of taming out own monsters (fears) - one truly opens oneself up to the task of being a leader to others on the journey to self-knowledge.  Here, let me recall a claim, attributed to Nelson Mandela but whose provenance lies elsewhere, that we are ourselves "afraid of our own greatness!"  This is a thought that is at once frightening, true and most profound.  Plumbing the depths and scaling the heights of the psyche were never easy activities.  Here let me remind my readers of the great lines from the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins:

O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne'er hung there.  (poem, No Worst, There Is None) (See this link here: GMH MindMountains )
Historically, then plumbing the depths gives us a metaphor for one way of exploring the psyche.  One could also contend that the mountain or height metaphor is equally valid as an approach as it takes the opposite directional metaphor.   I do believe I first encountered the notion of height psychology in the work of Viktor Frankl.   Now, depth psychology (or height psychology as scaling the mountains/cliffs is as dangerous as plumbing the dark depths), from a German term (Tiefenpsychologie), was coined by Eugen Bleuler to refer to psychoanalytic approaches to therapy and research that take the unconscious into account. The term has come to refer to the ongoing development of theories and therapies pioneered by Pierre Janet, William James, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung. Depth psychology explores the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious and includes both psychoanalysis and Jungian psychology.

Let me quote a few sentences from Deepak Chopra here as regards soul-work and leadership which sum up the central philosophy of his recent book: "Everyone who has a soul, which by my definition includes us all, has the potential to be an inspired leader.  When you change on the inside so that you draw on the unlimited wisdom of the soul, you become a leader without needing to seek followers.  As you put your vision for a better world into tangible form, they will find you. " (Op. cit., p. 2)

I have always liked the books of Deepak Chopra because they are at once profound and very easily accessible.  To manage to achieve both these aims is a feat, nay a miracle, in itself.  Also I love Chopra's propensity for acronyms and mnemonics to help his readers process and assimilate his thoughts.  He gives the following rather unique acronym for LEADERS in the first several pages of his book:

L = Look and Listen: He tells us to do so as objectively as possible, and to remain true to all our senses and feelings.

E = Emotional Bonding:  Here we clear away our own toxic emotions, or truly have dealt with "our own shit."  I should imagine this is on a par with the empathy recommended by Carl Ransom Rogers in his person-centered counselling.

A = Awareness.  Here what Chopra is getting at is awareness of all the big issues and questions in my own life like Who am I? What do I want from life? Or as the dying rabbi said to his followers in that old rabbinical story: "always question your motivations."

D = Doing:  All leaders must be action-oriented.  Be a do-er as well as a be-er.

E= Empowerment:  The soul's power comes from its own self-awareness.  Such self-awareness is never threatened by the opinions or comments of others.   The leader empowers the team and him/herself at one and the same time.

R = Responsibility:  Responsible leadership means having the courage of one's convictions to "walk the walk as well as talk the talk!"  Chopra goes on to add that the leader's greatest responsibility is to lead the group "on the path of higher consciousness."

S =  Synchronicity: This is a hard concept to get one's mind around, and it was one very close to Jung's heart, and one which I discussed in these pages before where I defined synchronicity as the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally inexplicable to the person or persons experiencing them. (See this link here: synchronicityTQ ) Chopra gives another good definition of it, which I like greatly, viz:

[Synchronicity] a mysterious element from the underlying universal field of consciousness that all great leaders harness.  [It] is the ability to create good luck and find invisible support that carries one beyond predicted outcomes to a higher plane.  In spiritual terms, synchronicity is the ultimate ability to connect any need with an answere from the soul. (Ibid., p. 5)

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