Is compassion a business success strategy? Last month I attended the LinkedIn Compassion in Leadership Summit in Silicon Valley, co-hosted with Wisdom 2.0. The conversations ranged from cultivating our personal practices to creating more compassion in companies, by changing metrics, questioning management practices, and instituting more compassionate systems.
Why do children climb on chairs? And why do adults sit on them? Guest blogger Jennifer Kenny challenges our preconceived notions about the value of developing feminine wisdom in leadership and business.
“The prevailing thinking would tell us that children climb on chairs because they have not been trained to sit on them. However if you look carefully at how children interact with chairs you will notice that they climb on them, write on them, sit on them, play on them, ignore them and sit on the floor. It is only when they begin to distinguish chairs from other items that they begin to sit on them. A child sees a chair and they have no preconceived notion as to what a chair should be used for, so they climb on it, experiment with it, sit on it, they knock it over, they write on it, they ignore it, basically, they do whatever takes their fancy when it comes to engaging with the chair.
The interesting opportunity for us, is to look at how people engage with feminine wisdom. If they don’t know what it is, if the distinction of feminine wisdom, and the sub distinctions of feminine wisdom, don’t exist for them, then they simply, climb on it, sit on it, knock it over, write on it and ignore it, they use it for whatever purpose they think is appropriate – if they even see it in the first place. Remember children also sit on the floor quite happily and comfortably.
We are in a unique position, at this moment in history, to be able to distinguish and identify the facets of feminine wisdom and to bring forth those facets into the world in a way that they will be distinguished and in distinguishing them people will understand them, they will understand the value of them, they will understand how to engage with them, they will understand how to be able to pay for applied feminine wisdom and how to leverage feminine wisdom.
Karen Buckley has done truly foundational work in distinguishing the facets of feminine wisdom and working to bring those distinctions to a broader audience. She has distinguished nine facets of feminine wisdom and in so doing she has created the opportunity for all of us to enable humanity (masculine and feminine) understand what problems feminine wisdom can solve, what value feminine wisdom brings, why it is unique to the feminine (not just to women but to the feminine) and why that value can in turn add value for those around us and for those in our community.
Over the next few months you will see Karen articulate those distinctions in her blog and she will be publishing a book about those distinctions. She will also be looking to engage a broader audience in identifying understanding, valuing and appreciating, applied feminine wisdom and we will be working to create frameworks for bringing feminine wisdom to the world, in the same way masculine wisdom has been brought to the world.
The task ahead of us at the moment is to understand these distinctions ourselves, understand how each of us embodies one or more of the facets of feminine wisdom and help the rest of the world understand how to engage with feminine wisdom, what value it brings and how feminine wisdom can be instrumental in solving some of the enormous problems facing humanity today.
Editor’s note! Jennifer, I have the biggest smile ever with your fine acknowledgment above. I too am very excited to share the distinctions we are all building every day as we become the wise feminine leaders that we are meant to be.
Jennifer Kenny is Interim CIO of SRI International. Jennifer has an extensive background in management consulting, change initiation and the design of business processes and systems strategies for Fortune 500 companies, including starting her own consulting firm BizThink in 2007.
Because I love working with women to discover these distinctions for themselves I put together the Next Octave Leadership Webinar that starts this summer where we’ll talk about the source of personal power and increased effectiveness.
Warmest regards, Karen
Guest blogger Dale Allen continues our journey into the Crone archetype and her relationship to our personal power and inner knowing. She can show us how getting to know the wisdom of the Crone helps us to harness our leadership. Join us in this journey and learn more about why you just might want someone to call you a Crone!
BTW - I loved my interview with Dale from Tuesday, March 6, 2012. I first saw her show at a conference in NYC where we both were keynoting on the wise feminine. I was blown away by her creativity.
She’s been with you since you since the day you were born: Meeting the Crone within.
Let us continue with our journey. Here we are, standing in a winter landscape where all is barren, frozen and covered with snow. You can no longer see the road you were traveling. You are tempted to quickly fill the void with something familiar because it’s just too painful to stand in the unknown. Yet you know on the deepest level what you must do.
Within this metaphor, turn your focus and your energy into the vital organs of your own body. This will be the pathway for going down, deep down beneath the snows—down into the groundedness of your own Being. Hold in your mind an image of a cave underneath the cold, frozen ground. It’s lit orange by a small fire tended by a very ancient, sage woman.
She is a WiseWoman with long, white hair and long, thin fingers. She tends the fire. When she looks at you and your eyes meet, you see timelessness. She’s so very ancient, yet timeless. In many ways, it’s like looking into a baby’s eyes. We say a baby is “fresh from the lap of God,” because, as you look into a baby’s eyes, you’re taken out of the earthly realm and brought into a place of soulful eternity, very much like this ancient Wise Woman’s eyes. You sit with her in the silence. She knows you deeply.
She makes no judgments about you or your life. She makes no judgments about what you constructed and what has fallen. All that she cares about is whether you are living in your own authenticity. “Did you make mistakes?” her eyes ask you. “Yes, of course I did,” your eyes answer. She smiles. She’s very pleased about your journey. You have revealed to her that the mistakes you made were yours. Your efforts to live in alignment with your soul all along the way are evident. It was because you poured your life, your love, into something—maybe it isn’t there anymore, but you did it and it made you stronger and you learned. She’s very happy that you are doing your best and coming from a place of love and learning, even with all its pain. As you sit with her in the stillness, you simply take account for where you are, and breathe for a while in the not-knowing, in the winter—quite suspended, but also very alive.
The Crone asks us to just look around at what is. In doing so, we are looking through eyes of authenticity. The key is to not employ an immediate storyline to fill the gap. We should not try to make ourselves comfortable and make things look like what we knew before. We might be tempted to do that because it’s just too painful to not know. If we resist, we resist a culture that perpetually asks, “What are you doing? I need to know what you are producing! What can you show me? If you can’t show me something you’re producing, you don’t exist!” Our only answer to this discomfort must surely be, “Ahh, but I do exist. I am breathing. I am here.”
If we’re willing to stay in the stillness, even though it’s painful—if we just breathe with it—we open up a fertile space. As we look into this ancient woman’s eyes, she reveals to us that she holds the seed to the bloom of our destiny. It is through the Crone that we come back to the Maiden.
If we try to harness our leadership without bringing forth the sage wisdom of the Crone, we will miss the very seeds of our own creative contributions. We will be hollow, plastic, robotic. Taking time to just be in the stillness—in the not-knowing—pays off in an ability to sow the seeds of our souls’ offerings. The Archetypes That Shape A Woman’s Life – The Crone© — By Dale Allen
In tomorrow’s blog I’ll bring our journey round to how the Inner Crone goes beyond the personal to the collective.
Thank you Dale! Please visit Dale’s website to learn more about her beautiful work and listen to some of her powerful dramatic talks. — http://www.inourrightminds.com
I celebrate you, your wisdom and your leadership – in connection for the benefit of the world!
Isn’t it an insult to call a woman a Crone? I’ve invited guest blogger Dale Allen to tell us how we can more effectively harness our leadership as women when we understand the archetypes, and bring the wisdom and strength they provide to the table. Tune in to the 3 blogs on this topic to learn more about why you just might want someone to call you a Crone!
I learned so much when I interviewed Dale on Tuesday, March 6, 2012. You’ll enjoy her perspective.
It’s wintertime in our northern hemisphere – a perfect time to explore the Crone archetype and start the series: The Archetypes That Shape A Woman’s Life. The feminine archetypes I speak of are Maiden, Mother and Crone and, in that order, fit a woman’s chronological life: Maiden – childhood, Mother – reproductive years, and Crone – elder years. I really want to stress these archetypes are alive, not just some cold and impersonal psychological labels.
I invite you to come into a dream space, a space that is timeless, where characters in novels dwell and where archetypes live and breathe. Within our psyches, the archetypes are always available, they are always there. Rather than just focusing on, and taking the gifts from, certain ones at certain times, it’s very important we understand the archetypes. They offer us such valuable insight, pathways and perspective to understanding where we are in life and what we’ll miss if we don’t glean their wisdom now.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung described archetypes as models of people, behaviors, or personalities. For Jung, the psyche was composed of three components: the ego, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is where the archetypes exist. These models are unlearned; they are innate, universal, and hereditary. An archetype is an inward image in the human psyche that exerts a powerful influence on the nature of an individual’s personality and, in turn, on the larger culture.
In The Archetypes That Shape A Woman’s Life, I’m not going to begin with the Maiden, which would logically fit the chronological order of things. We aren’t going down a logical path here. We’re going into a space that is beyond logic and beyond time. It is not sequential. We’re going into the dimension of archetypes. I want to focus on the Crone, because I believe that the Crone is probably one of the least well understood of women’s archetypes. Could it be that we fear her, in our culture that so prizes youth and productivity? Are we so jaded by the glamour of youth that we look at the Crone sometimes and say, “Can’t we just skip this one? I don’t think I want to go meet her.” She exists and has existed in us since the day we were born. And she’s so powerful! One of the greatest things we can teach our children (by “our children,” I don’t mean biological/personal family only—we all have children of some sort in our lives) is life is a series of deaths. Life is a progression of disappearances. Our culture thinks of life as an experience that goes something like this: we build it, we structure it, we count on it, we delude ourselves into thinking we’ve arrived somewhere … and then it all goes away. Instead we should look at certain threads that remain: threads connecting to our constant and timeless Inner Core. If we don’t, we can get lost in the painful shambles when all these constructs fall.
Do you remember graduating high school, perhaps heading off to college, and hearing the adults say in a wistful sort of way, “They have their whole lives ahead of them”? What they don’t seem to realize about this stage in our lives is that it is actually a kind of death. Deaths happen even during childhood. I make this point so that you understand that all sorts of deaths happen throughout life. Unprepared, we can get to a point where what we constructed, put all our efforts into — our plans, our dreams, our hopes — are the ways we came to define ourselves and our lives.
These constructs can and often do fall. You may find yourself asking, “What happened? I’m standing here now and I can’t see any of it anymore. I don’t know where to go. I can’t see the path, it’s covered with snow. I don’t know anything here. It’s very still. It’s very silent.”
Yes, winter is a great time to explore the Crone. The winter landscape offers us its barrenness. Rather than despair, we need to look on it as a revelation. See that the lack of fruits and flowers, our myriad creations, the garlands around the Maypole are not truly hidden by the bleak landscape with trees silhouetted against the sky.
We will come to see that it is just another manifestation of death, not to be feared. What was familiar may be gone. But we can’t fast-forward to spring. In fact, if we try to fast-forward so that something will immediately fill the void, we will find that it is false and it, too, will fall. If we have the courage to stand in the stillness and simply look around us, there’s an invitation that will occur. It’s an invitation to journey down deep within our selves. The Archetypes That Shape A Woman’s Life – The Crone© — By Dale Allen
In tomorrow’s blog, I’ll take you on that journey beneath the snows to meet the Crone within.
Thank you Dale! Please visit Dale’s website to learn more about her beautiful work and listen to some of her powerful dramatic talks. — http://www.inourrightminds.com
I celebrate you, the way you find your wisdom, listen to your intuition and express your leadership – for the benefit of the world!
How did you cultivate your wisdom today? One of my long term clients, Mark Finser, as President & CEO, grew the RSF Social Finance assets to over $120M by 2007 with a focus on putting money to work for a sustainable future. Each decision, whether it was operational or programmatic, staff or board related, was informed by his daily meditation practice and the wise counsel of mentors. Mark cultivates a rare ability to look at things from several different points of view to inform his decisions. The results of his approach show in the depth of his relationships and the scope of his results.
Mark is a wise leader. Wisdom is a multi-faceted knowledge, blending life and work experience with mental clarity, emotional sensing, and intuitive insight. The leaders I’ve been privileged to work with, those who make the biggest difference in their industry or cause, access this blend of knowledge to make smart, sensible, and astute small and large decisions that benefit the immediate and larger world.
Bob, Chief Legal Counsel for a large Federal agency woke at 4am to meditate every day. I first heard his story on a break during a Senior Management Retreat I was running in 1989 and it’s stuck with me.
You knew something was different when you were around Bob. The first time I heard him speak I was standing at the front of the conference room leading the senior management team through their first exercise of their leadership retreat. Each person in the circle introduced themselves. Midway through the circle of introductions, my attention was drawn away by a secretary entering the room with more coffee.
As Bob began to speak, the resonance in his voice pulled my attention back. The calm centered timber in his voice relaxed everyone in the room while simultaneously waking them up. He spoke without nervousness or push, without hesitation or trying. His inner knowing infused his being and radiated into his natural expression of leadership.
The results were obvious. Throughout the retreat Bob added perspective to limited thinking, came up with the suggestions that blended differing priorities and found new avenues through complex thorny issues.
It was a privilege to work with him over several years and help develop strategies for bringing wise leadership to the fore throughout the agency and the law firm he later joined.
Both Mark and Bob engaged in practices to cultivate their wisdom and made it a point to take a big picture perspective before coming to conclusions. In our hyper-focused work with big accountabilities on our desks, it takes something to do this, but the results are obvious.
What do you do to fill out the dimensionality of your knowledge? How do you cultivate your wisdom? What works for you?
Wise leaders, like Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican head of the U.N. Climate Agency, encourage change by gathering and disseminating information on what is working. A recent Huffington Post article highlighted her work with high-profile executives from companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and Virgin Group. “Underscoring the focus on businesses, the U.N. climate agency last month launched an online database showcasing examples of companies making efforts to help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change.”
These companies include and influence key decision makers in many different companies. In recognition of the decreasing chance that the political process in the US or abroad or the U.N. climate talks will actually make a significant difference, she is reaching out to corporations as the global citizens shaping the policies and practices of every country.
Global responsibility is all of ours – and especially those who wield the vast resources of corporations today. What is your company doing well? How can you recognize, publicize, and build on it?
Who do you see as a wise leader in your world? What do they do or not do so you consider them wise?
The Wise Leader This article published in the Harvard Business Review points to the limits of the knowledge pool we normally draw upon in making daily decisions.