Day 2: Be Who You Are
In our pause today, against the backdrop of a local Alpine waterfall, I reflect on how different the waterfall is now from when we filmed here for the 21-day series last spring. Frozen, rather than abundant, but still beautiful.
In our busy lives much of our attention is turned outwards, on getting things done. If you want to lead others well and be truly present for them, it’s very important to turn your attention inwards from time to time.
This is another aspect of the pause practice. It gives you space simply to be. And in that space to become calm and grounded. So that you can hold a safe space for others to be heard and understood.
This is central to the Skilful Leaders approach, which enables you, over time, to align who you are with how you lead.
So join me for Day 2 on the Winter Mountain and enjoy a gentle two minute pause in your day.
Hello and welcome to Day 2 of 7 Days on the Winter Mountain – a chance for us to pause together for a few minutes.
So here we are today at the Cascade du Rouget, which is a beautiful waterfall known as the Queen of the Alps, about half an hour from our house. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get here, through fairly wet heavy snow. And those of you who saw the first series we made – the 21-day series last spring – will have seen this waterfall in its abundant glory, as it is in the spring when the snow is melting and the rains have come and it fills right up. But at the moment it’s quite small because a lot of it is frozen. At the bottom it’s ice covered in snow and there’s a lot of stalactites hanging down, and a narrow trickle of water. But it’s quite beautiful – it’s the winter version.
So today as I was walking up here, I was thinking about the fact that in the middle of January around about the 18th was the anniversary and the commemoration of the birthday of perhaps the greatest, or one of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time: Dr Martin Luther King Jr. And one of the things I remember and have always reflected on amongst all the wise words that he spoke was this: “We can all be great, because we can all serve others.”
And I’ve thought often in my life: what does that mean? To serve others – to be if you like a servant leader? What it means to me, when I think about giving service to someone else, when I’m looking at another person and thinking about how I might help or what they might need, first and foremost I think it’s about looking at that person as a human being. Looking into the eyes of that person. Looking if you like into their soul. Listening to what they have to say. Holding the space for them to be themselves. And I’ve found over the years, when I’ve simply sat quietly and listened to someone, and given them their voice, that is perhaps the biggest service of all.
But to do that we have to feel okay in ourselves. We have to, if you like, serve ourselves first. We have to feel grounded and centered and stable, so that we can hold that space for someone else. Perhaps the greatness of which Martin Luther King spoke was simply that: being oneself, connected to oneself. Understanding and giving space for whoever you are simply to be. And that starts, I think, with creating the space to do that. It starts with turning our attention inwards. So much of our time, particularly when we’re really really busy, as many of you are, our attention is turned outwards. It’s terribly important, in order to serve others in the way that we’d like to be able to, from a sense of true presence, to turn our attention inwards from time to time.
So that’s another aspect of the pause. Yesterday I spoke about the pause being our capacity to create space to respond rather than react. Create thinking space. But another aspect of pausing is bringing our attention inwards, to better understand who we are. To notice our thoughts, to realize they’re just thoughts, and to dig a bit deeper into who is this person behind all of that, or at the center of all of that.
So in our pause practice today, perhaps you might like simply to allow whatever arises to arise, and to practice observing it and being okay with it. And notice if you start to judge it. Notice if you want to quieten it. notice if you want it to be something else. And instead simply allow it to be just as it is.
So let’s pause together. Remember the 3-step process.
Pause. Like a pause button here (the solar plexus). Bring your attention, your awareness, your focus into this space. Maybe place your hand there and breathe almost simultaneously as you bring your attention inwards. Begin to breathe consciously in and out into this space. Creating space for you simply to be. I suggest you either bring your gaze downwards or close your eyes, whichever you prefer. And let’s pause together.
Breathing in, know that you are breathing in, creating space. And breathing out, know that you are breathing out, releasing and letting go. And allowing whatever arises simply to be…
When you’re ready open your eyes or lift your gaze.
Thank you for joining me here today. Please join me again tomorrow for the 3rd day of this 7-day series.
I look forward to that. Thank you.