Last week, I was unable to go to bed, captured by the unfolding events of election night in the US. The next morning there seemed to be a feeling of hope and optimism imported from across the Atlantic. There was a new joy in the air.
Something has changed. The cynical have been willing to lay aside their cynicism and dare to hope. This election result felt similar to the 1997 Labour victory, the hope of something new.
It is all too easy to become disillusioned. How can we hold on to this optimism, this hope, in a way that is grounded for us? This election has touched something deep in us that we can preserve however Obama manages or does not manage his job. What is that deep place?
Friend and fellow coach Corrina Gordon-Barnes suggests a way. She writes of how Obama is a new kind of leader, with his “Anything is possible” ideology. She suggests we look around us for other inspirational leaders. And then we need to identify the inspirational leader within ourselves. To recognise “Yes we can” – and then get on and do it.
Corrina challenges in her blog post ‘Your Slice of the World‘
- Make a list of ten people, alive today, who give you hope, who inspire you, who you’re happy to have in charge of their slice of the world, no matter how big or small that piece is. Alongside their name, identify why it matters that they play that role.
- Share this with each of them – alert that person to their own significance. They might not know. Also, find a way of supporting them.
- Scan the list you made in the first section and notice which values popped up repeatedly. Allow yourself to realise what’s most important/significant for you – this might help you with the next step…
- Finally, identify which slice of life you are currently responsible for. How are you doing? What’s next for YOU as a leader in this area? (Hint: It’s probably a step that feels scary)
I found answering the questions a moving experience, connecting me back to what is important for me.
None of my answers are perfect people, all have feet of clay. And actually that makes them more inspiring:
- Barack Obama – for not taking the easy route, for his grassroots work despite his privileged education and his ability to listen and inspire hope.
- Florence Terry – for her generosity and willingness to flout convention and consumerism.
- Coaches – Both Molly Gordon and Corrina Gordon-Barnes for their authenticity and willingness to share of their lives, including the personal in order to help others.
- And Tina Southgate for her determination, boldness, courage and strength in the face of adversity.
- MP Clare Short for being principled, her strong ethics in connection with international development and her campaign against page 3 for which she received so much ridicule.
- Jamie Oliver for campaigning within his field for people to eat real food and also championing organic food and cruelty free farming.
- Birmingham Head of Women’s Aid for her championing of the rights of women suffering domestic violence.
- Roy Searle – for his work founding the Northumbria Community, a dispersed order of ‘monasticism of the heart’, who seek God through being available to others and vulnerable.
- And my late grandfather Cyril Leonard for studying for a degree in his thirties, for daring to think that he could change his life and be more and do more. And for never losing his hunger for learning.
ACTION CHALLENGE: Write your own list of 10 people and post them below in the comments field. And follow the steps above to identify the leader that you are.