The road less traveled
Spiritual leadership is a journey inwards, finding the leader and teacher inside which guides you towards your destiny. Only once you can lead yourself are you worthy of leading others. Only once you are able to navigate the stormy seas in an unknown world around you are you truly worthy of being the captain of an organizational ship. Getting an MBA might teach you the technical skills to run an organization, but what differentiates an inspirational leader from an average one is the values encompassed and lived by the leader.
A leader don’t manage people. A leader inspires.
Spiritual leadership is the result of being presented with a fork in the path and taking the road less traveled in a journey of learning the values and virtues of trust, responsibility, discernment, and compassion – the values that differentiate a good leader from an average one. Learning how to craft business models and how to negotiate is easy. Learning to trust takes much more and can’t be learned in a class. Business schools teach technical skills, life is the teacher of the soft skills required to lead.
The Fool’s Journey
There’s a reason why it’s called the road less traveled, the fool’s journey. The journey is hard and perilous. Only a fool would embark on it knowing the dangers ahead.
It’s the road inward, discovering your essence, your power, your purpose. It’s the road to teach trust and compassion and discernment. Ironically, it’s a journey towards happiness. The road, however, filled with everything that caused you to be unhappy in the past, allowing you to untangle yourself from these feeling patterns of the past. Most of the time it doesn’t feel good at all. No wonder no-one wants to embark on it.
It takes courage. Courage coming from old French meaning to open your heart. The Latin root of the word “cor” being translated to “heart”, courage is about finding your heart, the centre of love.
Like a flower opening one petal at a time, unfolding to reveal a beautiful, tender flower, courage unfolds bit by bit. But it doesn’t feel tender like the velvety petals of a rose. It feels like being cracked open by being thrown from a height, shattering you open over and over and over again, like a seagull opening a mussel on the rocks.
The Fork In The Path
Taking the road less traveled wasn’t really a choice for me. It was born out of pain and suffering. So much so that I simply had to find an alternative because I couldn’t continue the road more traveled anymore. That was seven years ago, maybe longer.
One day, waking up I realized that the pain of the unknown and change was better than the suffering of remaining where I was. I quit my job and decided to surrender to what life wanted to show me. Foolishly I expected to see all the things I wanted.
The next few years I saw very little, and what I saw was a horror movie in slow motion playing off with me as the main player. I was consumed with the painful feelings of a childhood filled with emotional abuse and neglect. I didn’t know about narcissism at that stage. I didn’t realize that my pain was as a direct result of my parent’s unhealed wounds which caused them to become narcissists. All I knew was the pain as I felt it intensely for days on end. Feeling good was hard. Happiness seemed impossibly far. It was.
Had I known that it gets much worse I probably would have quit there and then, and not taken the road less traveled, but there was no turning back and I continued my search towards my heart as centre of my desires after a life of sacrificing my own needs and wants in a narcissistic home where being loved meant behaving the way other people wanted to behave, doing what other people wanted you to do. Besides, I’ve met the person I wanted more than anything and would do anything to find my way back to him. Giving up was simply not an option, no matter how hard the journey was. I continued my journey of learning to trust. Trust that I’ll be ok, trust that I deserve, trust that I’m being lead home.
Walking the Labyrinth
Words don’t teach. It takes walking the labyrinth of life for you to understand the symbolism behind it. But I’ll try to explain anyway.
Finding your essence, your power, your purpose is like walking a labyrinth. You start far away, from the outside, working your way inward by following a pre-destined road of feeling with no unnecessarily turns, leading you towards your beautiful core in the middle consisting of only love, happiness, and joy. The road inward presents you with all the unheard messages of emotional wounds of the past, screaming for attention and validation.
Sometimes you feel you’re so close you can touch your destination, just to find yourself being guided outward again, far away from where you want to be. Feeling good on this journey is close to impossible. All you can do is put one step ahead of the other and continue as it’s a one-way street with no turning back.
Then, finally, you reach the core, the centre of your happiness and you know what you want and who you are. But as you get clarity on your wishes and desires, you realize that you’re alone in the centre with no-one to share your gifts with and you embark on the journey outwards again, integrating the lessons learned. A journey as perilous and painful and alone, integrating the gifts you’ve received in a world unwilling to see it.
The process of integration is as hard as the journey of discovery. The difference is that the journey of discovery is filled with pain while the journey of integration is filled with loneliness. People around you don’t see your gifts and you desire to belong, but everyone around you seems blind or oblivious, busy running around in circles in a rat cage. Keeping busy in an attempt not to feel, because the feeling is painful and it’s scary to see the monsters in the closet.
Slowly, you untangle yet more debris from the war inside, presented with all the emotions that keep you from being happy and joyful every day. You feel unwanted, unheard, unloved. But this time you have the courage to look these monsters in the eye and each time you do, they disappear as you shed light on them. There is a knowing that the suffering won’t last and you’re willing to face these dark emotions. There is also an uncertainty of how far you still have to go along the road less traveled before you reach the light of happiness.
Coming home happens unexpectedly. There are no markers down the road less traveled telling you where the end-point will be. It just appears one day in a message only you will understand.
For me, it was huge text painted on the wall as I booked into accommodation saying “Welcome Home” with a message explaining the symbolism behind the logo which looks like an embryo in a womb. There was no doubt in my mind that this message was for me as everything flowed smoothly, exceeding each of my expectations with each step I took.
The path of ease is the path of alignment.
What amazed me most was the attention to detail. There could be no doubt that I’ve finally lined up with my desires and my happiness. That I found my way home. Everything surrounding me seemed to have been designed specifically for me and it’s impossible to not be happy with so many things feeling as if they fit like a glove handcrafted for my hand only. It’s as if someone made a list of everything I wanted and prepared it with care to the last detail.
Often on my journey, I’ve questioned whether anything could be worth this perilous journey filled with pain and suffering, but as every step I take unfolds to get better and better, I finally feel grateful that I’ve done it, knowing that what lies ahead will make me happy. Sustainably. Forever.
The road less taken is the road to follow your heart. The willingness to feel bad and willingness to feel good regardless of what others say and do.
Do you have the courage to follow your heart? Do you have the courage to find your way home?
Home is where the heart is.
Image by Tim Marshall courtesy www.unsplash.com