It’s become axiomatic today to talk about our open source universe of knowledge, that knowledge, as a collection of information or of authors, is no longer propitiatory, the possession of a select few who are schooled in an area of expertise. Wide ranging sources of information and research are available at the click of a mouse. Entire libraries abide online.
What is not available, however, is the experience and wisdom to access, digest and integrate this daunting array of data. Not only does the exponential expansion of knowledge in all fields make it impossible for the unguided to navigate its ways and byways, but radical open-sourcing does not insure anything like accuracy. Anyone can post anything anywhere, no matter its truth or falsehood. Our sources are not only ubiquitous, but they are untrustworthy.
What we need in such a time are wise guides, themselves already initiated into the arenas of their inquiry. Mastery, then, does not only mean mastery of content (though a minimum must be expected); because of the ever-expansive nature of knowledge now, there exists the impossibility of mastery of rapidly multiplying content. Mastery now involves much more than content, but rather a schooled mind that is able to understand and interpret complexities placed before it. And that schooled perceptive mind is formed from experience, exposure to the thorny problems of life, and the examples of mentor minds. In spiritual terms we also understand that wisdom, a deep integration of conscious and unconscious knowing, is a gift and a grace, varying widely in scope and intensity from person to person. The wise guide is one who knows how to know what is known.
Leadership, too, is dependent on mastery of many things, one of them being content. But most of all the mastery most required is a spiritual integration, a merging of mind and heart so that what is spoken, what is asked, what is demonstrated itself provides a way. This is some of what Parker Palmer describes. And dynamic leadership goes a good deal beyond those categories, too.
I recently was talking to an entrepreneur who is, by any standards, wildly successful. Her “product” and her “public relations” are stellar. And yet she longs for a leadership that is more transformative. Her journey has taken her from technician to some quest for leading by heart, trusting her instincts, listening to some wisdom that is beyond the many voices. From there, that place, comes a centered sense of direction, one that is easily shared with others.
When it comes down to it, in whatever endeavor, it is the person who is doing the living, doing the leading, who makes the real difference. And in the end the honoring of the powers of spirit within each provides the energy, access and direction to go where one must go, against all odds, swimming both up and downstream.