This week’s post is by guest writers John Watkins and his partner Caren Hamilton. They will share their diagram of Leadership Grace in next week’s post as Part 2.
These days we need all our resources working together to thrive. Our approach to thriving comes from being dazzled by the grace of discovering that our discipline and devotion to yoga combines with the gentleness and rigor of 12-step work to support our deepest desire to be of service.
Yoga means to weave or yoke. It’s about connection and unity, within our self, with the god of our understanding, and with our communities. More than just poses, yoga includes the philosophy that all things are an expression of the divine, and that it is our divine nature fully to express ourselves knowledgably, skillfully, beautifully, and joyfully in the world.
12-step traditions help us recognize that we want to change, and teach us to live a spiritual way of life. 12-step work offers tools for reflection on our participation in life, and healing, so we can practice unity, service, and recovery. 12-step work helps people bring greater balance to their inner and outer worlds. Both traditions recognize the value of the support of others who share the same passion for living where our whole being is balanced and healthy. We interweave these traditions to create a powerful foundation for our work, Leadership Grace.
An Unhealthy Unbalanced Life
Our social, institutional, and even family lives are seriously out of balance and unhealthy. We can feel it even if we cannot name the conditions and reasons. Some habits we fall into to address this dis-ease are personal, including addictions and obsessions; others are institutional. A few symptoms of this dis-ease are dysfunction, dissatisfaction, fragmentation, isolation, alienation, victimization, disconnection, destructive actions to self and others, apathy, willfulness, stress and hopelessness. Many of us are conditioned to try to figure it out, fix it, force it, fight it, or f*#k it, throw up our hands, walk away.
When we are too self-centered, taking too much responsibility for circumstances that are beyond our control, we end up living a grey life. But in our hearts we know that we are meant to be fully alive, bright, and free. We’ve simply lost our way.
Pausing to Reflect; Finding the “No!” and the “Yes!”
When we find ourselves stuck, though everything in our ego and agitation urges us willfully to act, this is the time to pause. We ask the god of our understanding to “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This awareness is the first act of healthy autonomy, inviting a gap for grace to enter.
Getting clear about the “No” is the threshold for identifying the “Yes!” accepting that I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, and I can’t control it, but I can contribute to making it worse! The “No” sets a clear boundary, allowing us to “let go and let god.” In yoga, we use the term, Swaha, an equanimical, easeful response to the Universe. When we are able to let go, to surrender, to open to grace, we end up more powerful, more free. Then the challenge is to cultivate the “Yes.”
The Pathway to Grace
At first, opening to grace invites a softening and a listening to what is present. Grace is like coming home, being at ease in oneself and in the world, remembering our innate goodness, our divine nature, our ultimate intimate connection to ourselves, to each other, and to god. Grace asks for acceptance and gratitude, willingness, devotion, dedication, courage, discipline, persistent practice, and self-love. It takes the development and use of all our skills and tools. It is a high calling, but requires complete humility. Opening to grace asks us to become honest, open-minded, and willing. We acknowledge that we are beginners, and our self-love is the commitment to develop the skill and discipline to engage, to create the space for the “yes” to enter our hearts and drive our actions. A person is motivated to change and open to grace when they don’t want to hurt anymore, when they want to be happy, joyous, and free. Living with grace invites us to live in the world fully, with authenticity, integrity, beauty, and creativity. When we open to grace, we integrate the head, heart, and hands, without dogma or script, and we become united within ourselves and our communities.
The most powerful leaders are attractive agents for change, more like magnets than cannons, because they start with themselves, saying, “let it begin with me.” They show us how to “live and let live” and encourage us to align with grace. They hold high standards yet let us be human as we learn and grow. They constantly seek to affirm the positive, while holding us gently in the fire of transformation.
Leadership Grace balances clarity of vision, with focus on knowing what we value and is deeply meaningful, and easeful alignment of action. It comes from a deep connection to our core/divine Self, to provide strength, courage, and steadfastness, yet is dynamic, soft, and easeful on the outside. It is neither willful nor controlling.
(c) 2011 – John Watkins and Caren Hamilton
(Part 2 next week: The Power of Leadership Grace, and The Inner and Outer Practices of Leadership Grace)
For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.
John Watkins has for the past 25 years consulted and coached in organizational change and leadership development. 24 years ago he began his recovery from a family deeply scarred by alcohol and abuse. He has continued his healing as an avid Anusara yoga practitioner for the past six years. He lives in the SF Bay Area.
Caren Hamilton has worked with a variety of business and organizations for the last 17 years to align their business practices with nature. 12 years ago she began her healing process and has just celebrated 7 years of recovery in a 12-step program. She is a beginning Anusara yoga student and lives in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
John and Caren are currently building a new life and business together as beloveds and business partners. Their business is Leadership Grace. They coach, consult, and do workshops for people who want to remember their divine nature and lead a life of service from that place of grace.
John Watkins & Caren Hamilton- Johnw536@mac.com http://johnmw.com