I am fresh out of hosting NGLI. It was five days online. It was co-hosting with my friend, colleague, Quanita Roberson. It was pastors (Next Generation Leadership Initiative). It was hosting from my home — with backdrop of these Utah Wasatch mountains above, rather that Arizona’s desert and redrock.
I have learned that when a group is connected, when I am connected into a group, my learning nuances and intensifies with the group. It’s like we are plugged in to the same electrical current and it amplifies in our being together. Or, it’s like we are floating our skills together in the same river, making each of them stronger.
One of the strongest learning insights for me during these five days was to further nuance how leadership is so relational. Jokingly, but perhaps not as much as it might seem, the punchline to the set-up, “there are three things important in leadership…” is “relationships, relationships, and relationships.”
I’m not trying to speak to all circumstances of leadership — it is different to lead when the task is chopping carrots that when the task is mobilizing social justice protest in a community. And, though training involves leadership, training is not the same as leadership.
My efforts and my heart go more into building relational field together, so as to have 1), the joy of it, and 2) capacity to act individually and together from and within it.
But here is the key point from my NGLI days — it is all relational. And that means, it is all about growing or improving or learning in relationship.
I would suggest relational in four key ways.
- Relation with self. It matters that we commit to continuance of learning our inner condition. To develop keen eye and heart. To see ourselves from a balcony and from ground, from the outside and from the inside.
- Relation among each other. As the African Proverb states, “if you want to go further, go together. If you want to go faster, go alone.” Efficiency is not the only job of a group of people. It may be part of it, but it isn’t the whole of it. Plugging in to the same current matters.
- Relation to circumstance. Living things are not static. They don’t remain in unchanged state. Sometimes the circumstance is an emotional quality such as anger (e.g., over the circumstance of US Capitol riots). Our relationship with anger is not a finish line kind of relationship. It’s not bound by time. Instead, we grow our relationship with anger. We grow and experiment with how we ourselves engage it.
- Relation to Spirit. Yup, I would suggest that this infuses each of the other layers. “Divine” language is confusing to me. Lots of charged nuances. “Mystery” is something I can land in very easily. I would suggest that there is always that which is unseen that influences not just what is seen, but also how we see it.
So, I’m grateful for these last days. For the way that relational nourishes a broad scale of inner and outer. For the way that relational gives us added dwelling with both the present moment and the longer arc of journey. In both who we are as individuals and who we are together.