Leadership for Sustainability: A Path with Heart?

“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length – and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.”

Carlos Castaneda (The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, The Original Teachings in a Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition

Have you ever experienced an ambitious collaboration effort for sustainability that lost its intention? Have you come across deadening administrative cooperation procedures, bureaucratic structures and territorial fights? Have you even become tired of organizing stakeholder meetings that required huge efforts in back stage diplomacy to get to results?

Have you had the thought of giving up collaboration and just getting things done?

The following strange symptom of the human effort to collaboratively work toward a better world often manifest: We tend to get off track, resort to controlling the future by establishing rigid structures, and forget that it is the human connection, the individual story woven into a larger story,  that will create a future we all want to live in.

Even if we set out to make a difference in the world and joined the collaboration journey,  passion can dwindle in our hearts. We become so busy organizing the change we want to see that we feel exhausted, overworked, uninspired and tired. Yet, when passion is missing in our collaborative endeavor, our contribution lacks strength and spirit, the difference we want to make fades. Our initiative starts performing far below its potential. When this happens we have become disconnected from our heart. We begin to settle for the substitute – being busy for the sake of being busy and administering flatland activities.

If any of the above situations sound familiar to you, it is time to pause. It is time to reflect and to ask difficult questions.

Why are we doing this? Does what we do answer our hearts? These are questions we need to ask us at regular intervals.

There will always be times when commitment to a cause of action pushes the heart into the background. We can accept this reality in a pragmatic way. But if our heart’s desire diminishes over a longer period of time, if we do not know anymore how to respond to these questions, if most of the collaborative action we are engaged in does not qualify for a positive answer, if the desire to combat others outweighs our capability to answer the questions, then it is time to halt, to withdraw, to create space within and around us, to start a dialogue with ourselves and people close to us.

We need to refocus. We need to find the path that has a heart.

There is a journey waiting for us that is asking us to renew our quest for a better world. We need to get passion back in our collaboration initiatives. We need to connect with our story and the stories of other people. We need to renew our emotional connection with the goals we set out to achieve or the contributions we wanted to make. We need to remind ourselves of the larger purpose our collaborative initiative will contribute to.

If our passion withers we can assume that the same happens to other people, whether they are aware of it or not. This is the time to invite wonderland back into our collaboration process; it is time to focus on the aspects of the Collective Leadership Compass that connect us with the depth of life and with each other. It is time to uncover our HUMANITY. What can we do to reconnect with our heart and bring the human-to-human connection back into our collaborative initiative?



This blog post looks at the dimension of HUMANITY and  zooms into MINDFULNESS and BALANCE in the Collective Leadership Compass at the level of multi-stakeholder initiatives. For more information on the Art of Leading Collectively, checkout the inside the book and  reviews on amazon.com, or get inspired by an onsite course that takes the compass into the daily challenges of navigating complex change

Categories: Allgemein.

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