Tenacity Has Its Place; So Does Instrospection

There was a time in my life when tenacity was how I proved my worth. Tenacity was how I got seen. Tenacity was how I felt good about myself. Tenacity was how I felt belonging and the right to sit at the table. It was effort. It was work. It was competition. I relied on tenacity. Tenacity was good. Until it wasn’t. Or until it became one of a few orientations to develop.

Near the start of 2021, I was in a conversation with my New Zealand pal Glen Lauder. Glen helped inspire a few thoughts that I included in this article, Leadership at 50 — Three Questions for Recovering Tenacious Leaders.

I’m thinking of all of this tenacity stuff in part because I’ve worked with two groups of younger people recently. Younger people who are very oriented to accomplishment. Very oriented to tenacity.

My job, I think, has been to encourage them in what they do, but also do bring a bit of wisdom and I would say soulfulness, to what they do. For example, it is a project manager’s job to really track detail and schedule. It’s impressive. But not all are meant to be project managers. Or not meant to be project managers forever. Some grow from those talents and experiences into the less detailed approach that is vision, story, and narrative. I loved the “older” leader in one of these recent groups who referenced the book, The Boys In The Boat, a non-fiction account of a 1930s rowing crew that had to learn the art and spirit of rowing, not just the braun. Not just the tenacity.

So, enjoy this read (the article and the book). Perhaps you will find a bit to feed your continued journey of leadership and what gifts are yours to contribute.

Yearning

We all have yearning in us. Yearning tends to connect with the most basic of desires. Love. Growth. Being seen, heard, witnessed. Contributing. Perhaps it is as simple as it is for this broken poinsettia stem, resting in a glass of water — yearning to bring life.

On the weekend I co-hosted a group with Quanita Roberson — it was people interested in our Fire & Water Leadership Journey and Rite of Passage. A key question we asked of them was, “what is some of the yearning that brings you to exploring a journey like this (cohort begins February 2021)?”

I love questions that invite and invoke yearning. To me, yearning is more than a want. It’s more than casual. It has commitment in it. It has longing in it. I continue to learn that to form community around what is deep enough to be called yearning, is a good step.

Also on the weekend, I found myself writing prose into my journal. I was following a tone of yearning. I was also using language of “I pray” and “God” which are quite unresolved things for me, but nonetheless, come from my belly.

There was a time in my life, as a kid, when “pray” meant “down on my knees, eye’s closed, arms folded.” Sometimes it is that way for me these days. More often, however, prayer is sitting quietly in slow breath. Or prayer is a walk. Or prayer is just a moment to be still, emptied enough to listen to the yearning that breathes within me.

It is yearning that has waking power in it. As individuals. And in groups. Today, I offer some of my journey with yearning from the prose of the weekend.

I pray
that God is present with me,
that source is always direct.

I pray
that my gestures in life are enough,
with friends, family, colleagues, and strangers.

I pray
that my friendships are genuine and lasting,
oriented to creating life.

I pray 
that love finds each of us,
to move our hearts.

I pray
that ease of heart rests upon each of us,
to help us come to know flow.

I pray
that my body be strong enough to fulfill this journey,
aged yes, but rejuvenated with awakeness.

I pray
that I will will remain celebratory,
in the big, the small, and the unfinished things.

Here’s to how any of us touch our own yearning, and welcome it with others.

Repurposed

Each year, for part of my set of Christmas Tree ornaments, I slice and dry a lemon, an orange, and a lime. I’ve been doing it now for 10+ years. I love the slight fragrance that comes with them. I love the way the sun shines through them. I love the way my kids have adopted the approach in their adult lives. I love the simplicity.

Each year, when I take down my Christmas Tree, a part of me wonders what to do with the dried slices. Put them in the garbage, with a bit of extra thanks? Put them in the compost bin? Save them for use next year? The colors do tend to brown over time.

This year, I repurposed them to a bit of art in my back yard. I love the look of the spiral. I love the color that rises forth from the resting winter ground. I love repurposing something, whether it be to art, or to some other form of use.

Now, I’m not a keeper of everything. There are some things that just go with my mostly silent thanks — “you’ve been good to me, thank you, good bye.” And who knows, with this citrus spiral, I’m curious what creatures might repurpose my art for their needs. A Robin creating a spring nest? A Raven delighting in yet another shiny thing? A mouse adding to its den?

For today, I’m glad to pause in the ease of making something beautiful in a surprise or unique circumstance, with something that I already had.

Repurposing. Because I can. Because I want to.

There are many things that many of us repurpose in our lives. I can feel in me the way that my Grandfather saved nuts, bolts, screws, and blocks of wood with intent to use them along the way. He grew up in the 1920s-1930s with added need for creativity. I can feel in me the way that my Uncle Frank found creative ways to use food so that none would be wasted. He grew up in a simple home in a simple and small Alberta town that relied on its gardens as much as its grocery store.

Repurposing. Because I can. Because I want to. Because I appreciate the interruption of “consume…throw away” that so defines contemporary life. Because I appreciate an overarching spirit of creativity, be it in families or in the teams I get to work with.

Well in all of that spirit, I found myself journalling these words.

Another day.
To wake.
To wonder.
To create meaning.

Another day.
To welcome the simple
of this now
lived among others.

Repurposing. For the simple. For the day. Sometimes for the mere art and present moment of it.