Leading Beyond the Edge of Certainty

Leading Beyond the Edge of Certainty

Once upon a time, people believed the world was flat. At least that’s how the story goes. They say it took a courageous and visionary leader to sail past the limits of the current thinking of his day…to go beyond what looked like the “edge of the world,” in order to reveal the illusion of a flat earth.

While we now know that this story was a fable, it still offers us a compelling insight into the nature of human nature. In essence...we will always be held captive by our assumptions about ourselves and how the world works, until we begin to challenge them.

Throughout history, there have been pivotal times when the old structures that had defined the collective worldview, began to falter. These were often volatile, confusing, game-changing times, when traditional political, economic, religious, cultural and leadership structures literally fell apart, as newer structures began to emerge.

We now find ourselves in the middle of just such a critical turning point. An in-between time when the old is crumbling, and the new is still emerging. A liminal space that is at once undefined and full of potential.

So how do we lead effectively in these times of great uncertainty? First and foremost, we do so as consciously as possible. With great curiosity about what is here now. With trust in the wisdom inherent in the emerging future. With a deep relaxation of the ego’s need to control and be reassured. With confidence in the collective wisdom of our organization. With great delight in learning and discovery. And with a willingness to evoke action that is driven by a shared Purpose that’s bigger than any one of us.  

As many of us have discovered, this practice of Conscious Leadership is not for the faint of heart. Over and over again, it will invite us into new territory…to move beyond the arbitrary horizon lines we have drawn around ourselves, our business, and our world, in order to stay safe. Over and over again, we will be challenged to break free of the siren call of our go-to success strategies…in favor of the untested, unproven, and unsanctioned.

And each time we say yes to this new invitation, we can be assured that the 9-1-1 alarms that are hardwired into the old structures (in order to keep them intact), will do whatever is necessary to compel us back into the familiarity of our old comfort zones.

Like the shattering of the myths of old, it takes courage to challenge our personal myths about who we think we are, and how the world works. Yet as leaders, we can no longer afford the luxury of staying trapped in our illusions. Our organizations, indeed the world, need us to step in, to step up and to step out. We are being called now to pull up anchor and sail beyond the safe harbor of our current operating systems, and out into the uncharted waters of the new world. The invitation is here. Now. It is time.