The news headlines this week have been somewhat of a mixed bag. VW Financial Services SA were found to be acting unlawfully, Shoprite served it’s 100 millionth affordable meal, and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, shared a story about withdrawing $10 million in cash just to see what it looked like. From another crooked corporate, to intense celebrations of wealth, and business strategies catering for the needs of those in need. I also had 3 people this week tell me that they do not know who to vote for on the 8th of May, which echoed sentiments from SAIRR’s survey that shows a disconnect between the favourability of party candidates and the political parties themselves. Uncertainty seems to be the flavour of the month. Where exactly is our compass pointing?
If leadership is about inspiring and engaging others to move towards a shared vision, then the current lack of a shared vision is indicative of our absence of leadership. There is also the possibility that we are just too hard on those we call our leaders. Maybe we set the bar too high, and unjustly place expectations of ‘operating consciously’ on mere human beings, who simply carry too many of their own filters to be able to drive a vision beyond survival.
The depth of awareness of every leader reveals that individual’s ability to recognise their own inner world, and the effects of that on their own decisions and actions, which ultimately impact on the outer world. As our internal connectedness and sense of belonging expands, we are often driven to express care for the external world we belong to.
When astronauts look at the Earth from space, hanging in a void, they experience a state of mental clarity. It is described as a shift in perspective and focus for the astronaut as they feel a deep connection with the planet and a unity with their fellow man. It is called the ‘overview effect.’ I can imagine a world where we send our current business and political leaders into space. I can also imagine what the world would be like if they came back. In both cases, the future looks bright. We would grant ourselves permission to move beyond any limiting, selfish points of view and actually make a positive, selfless dent on our planet.
But alas, we cannot ship the cast of our ballot into the stratosphere. There has been no external intervention that could correct the moral compass of our current leaders. What we require is an internal motivation that drives poised and noble decisions. It is only when we embrace everything that we are, can we then leave behind exclusion for inclusion, and create space for humanity in our hearts.
Maybe we set the bar too high, or maybe we can take some of the responsibility for allowing leaders to feel that they can fall short of our rights without repercussions. To cultivate conscious leadership acumen and wisdom we would need to delve inwards. We would need to reflect on our own barriers and change the world that we see. We would need to point the compass inwards and grant ourselves permission to set the bar high. Either that, or make friends with a cosmonaut.