“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” — Albert Einstein
Like leadership, love has many faces and forms. Both are states of being that defy easy definitions or how-to formulas. Pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, describes one face of love, “I’m passionately involved in life: I love its change, its color, its movement. To be alive, to be able to see, to walk, to have houses, music, paintings — it’s all a miracle.” Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia outlines another face of love when talking about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child. The winner was a four-year-old child whose next-door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”
Highly effective leaders are in love with the organization, community, or team that they work or live in. Their love is expressed in a deep desire to see that organization, community, or team grow to its full potential. Leaders love the people they work with enough to contribute to their growth and development. That doesn’t mean we always like or agree with everyone. As with relatives, we often don’t get to pick and choose neighbors, teammates, bosses, and the like. Some of them aren’t people we’d invite to dinner or choose as a friend. However, leaders love their organization’s greater purpose and see its products or services contributing to a bigger world that they love. That love — and desire for growth and development — extends to everyone involved.
Love of others starts with love of self. The desire to see others grow and develop starts with our own personal growth and development. If we’re not leading a meaningful life, it’s hard to help others find meaning. If we don’t feel a sense of connection to a bigger purpose or being, it’s hard to unify others. Spirit and meaning are an inside job. Inner growth is part of our spiritual renewal process. Our soul craves it.
Since the beginning of civilization, humans have pursued growth. We’ve restlessly tried to do and have more and more. For most of the history of the western world, growth has been expressed in the outer, material world — possessions, territory, money, economies, etc. Our environmental awareness and shifting values are now showing us some of the limits to outer, material growth. We are now moving to a stage of inner, spiritual growth. This is new territory. But like those who were part of the industrial revolution, we are just getting an inkling of the awesome power and exciting new world the Inner Revolution will open up for us in the next few decades.