Time spent with camels and other animals, as well as human and spiritual mentors, has shown me that leadership is really a transcendental thing.
At its most simple, true leadership is an offering, or an invitation, nothing more…
“Will you come with me?” “Will you join me?” “Can I join you?” “Can I help you?” “What do you need?” “Can I show you something?” “Will you listen to me?” “Can I learn from you?” “May I have a moment of your time?” “Will you help me?” “Let’s go now.” “Let me explain.” “I don’t think you should do that.” “Let’s do this.”
The true leader is always a servant, always vulnerable, available to both acceptance and rejection. Leadership is a sacrifice of self for the good of others.
When leadership is understood as an offering, able to be freely accepted or rejected, the entire culture becomes authentic, inspired beyond its otherwise limitations. The culture also becomes more moral.
Leadership is not a form of status. At its most expanded it is a function in sacred responsibility, a deep, unbidden, impulse of inexpressible profundity.
Each of us can learn basic leadership skills, but true leaders are born. The rest of us seek, and elicit, true leaders because everyone desires a life well led.
Authentic leadership is a spiritual role that supports ‘right life’ on earth for all living beings, not for the narrowness of tribes, nor even the human race as a whole.
The primeval relevance of all non-human cultures of the earth is their natural impulse for participation in Divine Awareness. Important practical necessities of shelter, food, and reproduction come second to spiritual life.
What do the cows, birds, fish, and all the other creatures do all day long? They don’t make rockets, think complex thoughts, create wars, strange intrigues, or religions. Sitting or standing for long periods, between feeding and sleeping, they are involved in various states of spiritual contemplation. Except for the humans, the entire Earth world is contemplating constantly.Supporting spiritual contemplation in others is the senior attribute of a good leader of any Earth culture. Contemplative depth affords a leader genuine wisdom, care-taking intelligence, and deep sensitivity for others and the world.
One year I watched a young bull camel named Everest maturing to his esteemed role within the herd. As the qualities of leadership steadied in him his responsibility became perpetual. I watched him make mistakes, learn from them, become wiser, stronger, and more benevolent, always guided by the lead female’s example, and his own contemplative development.
All good leaders also want to be led. They understand the dynamics of leading and following so they tend to make good followers, too. Good leaders are not attached to leading and prefer not to lead at all if they don’t have to. When an individual comes along who’s their equal, or more, they might readily give over their position to the successor, with the entire group following along. In this way leadership should always be improving. Good leaders don’t willingly cede to those of lesser proficiency. It’s not in them to do so.
Whether female or male, good leaders don’t attack other members of their group. Their interest is in building trust. If challenged by one of their own they work to limit the challenge without forming revenge. Following an altercation, the leader monitors the attacker, awaiting the opportunity to instruct the individual in right behavior, always working to deepen respect and trust. It’s easiest for leaders to guide and protect herd members who trust them.
In healthy herd cultures overall leadership is usually held by females. Bulls and stallions fill important leadership roles but the lead female is senior. Almost all non-human cultures, whether herds, schools, flocks, pods, or whichever, are matriarchal. Today’s human, male dominated, cultures are an aberration among the cultures of the Earth. In times past most human cultures were matriarchal. Patriarchal human cultures, appearing more recently, now dominate humanity, with a lack spiritual depth and sensitivity to the Divine and the world. Therefore, they don’t have the longevity of matriarchal cultures.To understand good leadership it’s important to know that every member of a group, from children to elders, is a leader, and can have leadership moments. Every time any of us makes a request of another, or of the group, we’ve stepped into a leadership role. Merely to draw attention to ourselves puts us into potential leadership mode. Because everything we do and say has effects, every moment of our life is one of potential leadership. Good leadership is made and supported by all of us. We always either support, or detract, from the whole.
Without followers there are no leaders. Leadership is generated within the collective, and the quality of wise humanity, or its lack, determines who leads us, and how.
Good leaders and good followers are synergistic; not two things but one, a liberating unity in sacred culture, whether of camel, elephant, whale, horse, human, bee, or goat.
I’ve watched baby camels approach 2500 pound bulls and, “bLeh! bleHhh!”, them off a hay pile. As the big bulls acquiesce the tiny calves brim with confidence, their persons and intentions acknowledged, affirmed, strengthened, and relaxed.
Leadership is endless give and take. A good leader knows when to rely on others’ experience, when to lead and to follow, when to be firm like a tree or to yield like water.
In recent times humans have been aspiring less and less to good leadership and accountability. We have gulled ourselves into an incomplete, childish and adolescent, view of the world and we choose leaders who support this for us. Instead of leadership and culture improving, things are regressing, and rapidly. We’ve subjected ourselves to leadership that allows us to be bullied, lied to, stolen from, confused, and killed – a serious situation destroying the very world we live in. We all contribute to this. Exemptions none.
The so-called leadership we have today requires increasingly less human maturity and responsibility. As a result we are each less free and less capable of it.
However, true leadership frees everyone — because it is free and freely given.
While now virtually ruined by modernity, the Saan of the Kalahari lived largely unchanged for over 40,000 years. Their matriarchal culture persisted harmoniously alongside the cultures of many non-humans, which, also, are mostly matriarchal. To varying degrees the lions, cheetahs, baboons, zebras, gemsboks and others knew the people living in their areas, and the people knew them. They knew each other by sight, smell, and habit. They studied each other continuously, respected each other, and at times they ate each other, with respect and humility. Their cultures intertwined over 100,000 generations. The people knew the local herd leaders by site and the animals knew the Saan leaders. There was an acknowledgment of shared wisdom and intimacy from living so closely for so long. There was nothing casual between them. In their understandings of natural traditions for living well together the sense of rightness was mutual.
Today, the Earth’s humans and non-humans no longer enjoy such rightness. There’s a disturbance in humans that is damaging everything across the Earth. The non-humans are concerned by what they see humans doing. From their forest edges and tree branches, their burrows and fields, they no longer see humans walking elegantly to gather water or hunt with reverence. Instead, they see humans crunched and bent, shuffling and stomping about with fear and anger in their bodies, making tremendous noises, killing everything, insensitive to the life around them – lost.
The wretched relatives of true leadership are all the forms of aggressive dominance, power bullying, immature manipulation, and denial of sacred wisdom and human responsibility. This is what poses today as leadership the world over, and it is complete bullshit!
Today’s true leaders are rarely heard and acknowledged. Instead, people not yet fully formed claim and steal leadership from all of us, and we let them. We let them!
But we are all leaders. Those we elect to lead for us are reflections of ourselves. We are responsible for everything they do. True change, based on true leadership, waits on everyone coming together, all at once, equal at heart, living as human beings instead of frightened, angry, mummers and fools.
Observe the non-human contemplatives. They know…
We might learn something.
“The world is transformed by one’s presumption about it. Those who live in a magical disposition toward the world change their world in one characteristic way: they do not seem to do very much with it as a natural phenomenon. They are very protective of it as a natural phenomenon and want to interfere with it as little as possible, because it is only by letting the world be what it is as a natural process, without interference, that it has the opportunity to produce magical signs and therefore to permit them to engage in magical relations with it. . . “ – Adi Da Samraj
Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. Thank you.
(Disclaimer: this article is not a claim to leadership. I am in no way a born leader, just a struggling ‘servant’ 🙂