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Leadership, Discomfort, and Activation

“If you’re comfortable, you’re probably making the easy, wrong choices.” – Scott Sonnon

Lately, I’ve been feeling extreme discomfort. Changes have been coming in my work and my Work for a long time. I’ve been training, taking steps in the right direction, and yet, I have not made a big shift that will actually free up the time, energy, attention and grace necessary for the larger, deeper change to activate. My ego has been resisting this, fearing the bigger risk, not wanting to break free from the shell of comfort.

Now, this current shell of comfort was created by risks I took in the past but as with all things, it has become my new status quo. Something – something big – has to give. I’ve known it for a long time now, and even while doing the planning and practice necessary to shift the magic, I’ve also been dancing around a core piece. This core piece is linked to the part of ego that wants to retreat and keep things small. As a consequence, though I love teaching, I crashed hard after my last weekend away. Time to face the necessary. Time to take a deeper look at the equation of Want + Need = Desire. What is the larger Desire that is my true Will?

What does this have to do with my title of leadership, discomfort and activation? We cannot be leaders if we are always seeking out comfort. We have to lead first within our own lives. We have to lead our personality parts toward the greater magic only activated by the whole. Our spirit must be the teacher of courage. Courage is the ability to break free from homeostasis and grow.

Fortunately, we can practice this at any time and with any activity. This morning, after reading this fantastic essay by Scott Sonnon, I went to attend to my yoga and meditation practice. Those of you who read this journal regularly know that I have struggled with daily yoga, having been a self-professed yoga hater. I’ve worked with the extreme discomfort of holding poses, of stretching, of getting moving first thing in the morning, all in the service of supporting my larger work in the world. This morning, I added back in something my friend the trainer Carey Rockland had me try a year ago: handstands. What put this in my head today, I’m not sure, but part of me needed to rise to the challenge. I picked a wall. I planted my hands. I failed to reach full height before feet bouncing back down to floor. I tried again. Failed. Tried again. Failed. I reset my intention. Placed my hands in the right spot in my mind’s eye. This time, I lifted, my heels touched the wall, my arm muscles engaged. I was in a full assisted handstand, which I held for as long as I felt able. After I returned to a normal standing position, my heart was pumping, and energy was moving through me with a powerful rush. I channeled this into some of my energy techniques – running the cosmic loops from feet to crown, out and down and back up again. I found my stable center. I tried again and planted my hands almost perfectly to lift easily into a strong position.

Feeling the full power of this action running through my body, I returned to my meditation bench, to sit in silence as unseasonable dark clouds moved by the window. When I was done, I thought of Sonnon’s essay, and the very real importance of discomfort. Without struggling for years with the excruciating discomfort of meditation practice, I would not know so many parts of myself, nor would the core of stillness in my belly be such a stabilizing force. This challenge I’ve been facing lately? It wouldn’t even be on the table.

We cannot lead if we always seek out comfort. We cannot teach if we do not seek to know. Without being up against challenges, large or small, we do not test ourselves and therefore cannot inspire each other through our art, our words, our music, or our actions. This is where leadership fails: when those in positions of power establish a status quo and set up systems to maintain it. That is no longer leadership, it is complacency, which is a small, slow death.

How can we inspire ourselves and each other? How can we rise to the challenge? How can we look at the world, at least sometimes, upside down, just to get a new perspective?

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