A Whole Lot

My dear friend Irv and I were taking a few minutes, as we do before each IAM class, to check-in, ground ourselves and prep prior to opening the virtual doors.

Both of us arrived a bit overwhelmed, standing at the strange crossroads of excitement and dread for upcoming travel we had coming up. Irv is heading overseas soon. I’m flying to Asheville, North Carolina at Zero Dark-Thirty tomorrow morning.

By all rights – and certainly on paper – the excitement “should” have been overriding the other stuff. But it wasn’t.

Can we pause for just a moment of appreciation for the fact that we are still breathing? And that we are doing so in the face of mind-numbingly massive heaps of strife, pain, and ugliness?

We were each doing the slow swirl in our own version of the same malaise. Whether we’d been reading, watching, or listening to too much news is up for debate. What’s true is that we’d individually switched on the auto-worry function in our own heads, and a predictably dark cloud had descended on our futures.

And shoot and blast, not only did we have great trips planned, we also had an important (and fun) class to deliver in a few minutes.

We took a few steps back to get a sense of the bigger picture, inclusive of the state of the world…

After all, Irv and I have been at this work long enough to recognize (when we’re conscious) that we’re part of a greater whole that includes the state of the world – ugly bits and all.

What came into quick focus was a world in which there’s a whole lot of “involuntary vulnerability” happening. Included in the mess is a rise of violent crime here in the US, an ongoing pandemic hangover and, of course, the war in Ukraine.

Not only does all that stuff make worrying and shutting down seem like a rational thing to do, it makes intentionally opening one’s heart – a vulnerable pursuit, to say the least – seem like a completely irrational option.

As we looked at one another over our Zoom link, the power of (and necessity for) that irrational option came into crisp focus.

Here’s the thing: Conscious leaders go first.

And they go first by allowing and including “all the feels” present and moving with them, not despite or in denial of them.

Just to be clear, “conscious leaders go first” isn’t a mindless, dogmatic rule. It’s a choice made, moment to moment, over and over again.

We felt what we were feeling, then turned toward the futures we really wanted to experience – in this case, our upcoming trips.

We didn’t pretend any of the news of the world had changed, nor did we reach for emotional or spiritual bypass shortcuts.

Rather, we looked at all of what’s going on – it was, and still is, a whole lot – and found that, for the two of us and those in our immediate circles, choosing to open our hearts vulnerably (yet again) was exactly what was called for.

And with that grounding and clarity, we led our small class of men in an experience of doing the very same thing.

And, in case you’re wondering, the class was totally kickass.