Traveling Without My Ego (Leadership Edition)

Since I chose to critique our president in my last post, I thought I would offer a positive outlook on what I think a good leader looks like. This is another piece of writing from Irish teacher and writer John O’Donahue, called “Blessing for a Leader.” (from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, p. 151.) It is one of the most profound and poetic statements on leadership I have ever read. It comes in the form of a blessing and says a great deal about the function of ego in all our lives.

Poet and philosopher John O’Donahue

May you have the grace and wisdom
To act kindly, learning
To distinguish between what is
Personal and what is not.

May you be hospitable to criticism.

May you never put yourself at the center of things.

May you act not from arrogance but out of service.

May you work on yourself,
Building up and refining the ways of your mind.

May those who work for you know
You see and respect them.

May you learn to cultivate the art of presence
In order to engage with those who meet you.

When someone fails or disappoints you,
May the graciousness with which you engage
Be their stairway to renewal and refinement.

May you treasure the gifts of the mind
Through reading and creative thinking
So that you continue as a servant of the frontier
Where the new will draw its enrichment from the old,
And may you never become a functionary.

May you know the wisdom of deep listening,
The healing of wholesome words,
The encouragement of the appreciative gaze,
The decorum of held dignity,
The springtime edge of the bleak question.

May you have a mind that loves frontiers
So that you can evoke the bright fields
That lie beyond the view of the regular eye.

May you have good friends
To mirror your blind spots.

May leadership be for you
A true adventure of growth.

May we all take these words to heart, wherever we lead and whomever we follow.

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