Coming Out of My Cave
Like so many of us, 2020 found me hunkering down and protecting myself by retreating to my cave. This move was necessary to keep me and my family safe, but it had some limitations as relates to growth.
As things have been opening up and I am feeling safer out in the world, I am beginning to venture from the safe harbor of my cave. However, I am realizing that while I am physically leaving, I am still entrenched in the cave of my thinking and beliefs. And while I was initially troubled by this awareness, I eventually became optimistic about this finding because it led me to be more intentional about exposing my thinking and beliefs to the light of day by reading more diversely.
At Emergent, we strongly believe that leaders are readers, primarily because reading exposes us to different ideas and perspectives which can lead to a broader context and more adaptability in our interactions and decision making. We are able to see a much larger picture and begin to envision an organization and world that works for everyone.
At the tail end of 2020 I realized that while I read a lot, the diversity of topics and authors I gravitated to had been somewhat limited. Triggered by a few unlikely titles received as holiday gifts – books that I initially was not thrilled to have received – I realized if I was going to continue to grow and evolve as a human being and contribute to raising my own consciousness and the consciousness of leaders I support, I needed to read with a great deal more intentionality and diversity.
I began asking for titles from people who think differently from me, and added books on politics (both conservative and liberal sources), racism, economics, and poetry to my titles on leadership, psychology, and self-development, And while I recognize this as only the tip of the iceberg, reading the different genres has compelled me to soften some of my righteous indignations and begin to question some deeply held beliefs.
Considering something that we believe in strongly from a completely different point of view creates openings for relating to others who may think and act differently from us. And as we begin relating at a truly human level, we can start to work together to achieve results that will have a broader and long-lasting impact.
I recently listened to, not read, a podcast about our (U.S.) obsession with lawns and lawn care. This really was unnerving and challenged my quest for the perfect lawn. And while I have gone completely organic – no pesticides at all, use an electric mower (it was cheaper than a Tesla), and watering only once a week – I became fascinated, if not concerned, about how much importance I placed on the look of my lawn and landscaping. I also was a little bit curious in the effort and cost I was investing, questioning why I never questioned it before. Why am I driving myself so hard just to look good to my neighbors, and where else could I be spending those resources to make a difference?
These are the kinds of questions that reading and listening more broadly can surface. They heighten awareness, raise consciousness, and – thankfully, given the times we live in – bring us out of our caves.