Initial impressions from Awakening the Servant Leader
Selfless Leadership: A Complete Guide to Awakening the Servant Leader Within by Katrijn Van Oudheusden. Below are my thoughts and reflections, having read about 20% of the book so far. They are not necessarily those of the other book club participants or the author.
Life happens before you arrive and continues after you die. Your life span is a period in which you participate.
That participation is like a boat floating down a river. We all have different rivers to navigate (we are not all the same). In essence life happens to us and our sense of agency is misplaced. The ego claiming control is simply providing a story, or explanation, or meaning as comfort or an attempt to attach events to personal of social narratives. “Here is an example of me being [hero, victim, villain, leader, follower]”, playing to the idea that we are controlling events.
Authentic leadership appears to be when we live our story according to our thoughts, feelings, vision, or mission. This is like the ego painting “their” picture and claiming that it is the landscape rather than simply their perception of it. There is nothing wrong with having you way of seeing the world. The following artists attest to that.
Edvard Munch, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Rene Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Frida Kahlo, Michelangelo, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Yayoi Kusama, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Jean-Antoine Watteau, Eugene Delacroix, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh.
Selfless leadership appears to be when we give-up our interpretation, and realise these are explanations for events not the events themselves nor indeed evidence of creation or control.
The former is the story about how we navigated the river, whereas the latter is understanding that we are being carried by the river. We have the capacity to respond according to our nature, to participate, but that is not the same as being in control.
We are not helpless, we have instinct to respond, just as a tree can grow in response to the environment and can contribute to the creation of that environment but that is not deciding or controlling. The tree has no conscious thought. We grow hair on our bodies, but this is not the product of conscious decision or control. This is just us, being in the world.
Of course, what I have read and understood from the book may be different from you or the authors intent. However I generally find thinking and writing a useful approach to review and reflect, to test my understanding and explore what this means for me. That view may change as I progress through the book.
I highly recommend Katrijn Van Oudheusden’s book and following her on LinkedIn where you will find many interesting resources.