Longing, Awe, and Commitment

One of the most fundamental acts of leadership is to declare our commitment to a desired future, a future that likely won’t come about without our help. And then, we move ourselves (and others) toward that future. I’m not talking about simple goals or mission statements. I’m talking about a heartfelt, fully embodied commitment. This commitment is only as powerful as the energy behind it. The energy of longing, caring, passion – that’s where amazing things happen. This kind of bold, passionate commitment always asks something of us, and in some way demands that we move into a larger version of ourselves.

I’ve been working with a new commitment around helping coaches develop themselves, but somehow it wasn’t really pulling me forward the way I hoped it could. This morning I was reflecting on what this commitment asks of me. As I felt into this and invited my body to inform the question, I stumbled into a deep well of heartfelt desire to deepen this body of work. I had a clear felt sense of my longing. There was an aliveness that ran all the way through me. Aaaahhhh.

Then, right behind that lovely warm feeling was a big knot of fear at the base of my throat. There was also an aliveness to that fear, but … I could also feel the desire to move away from the fear or tighten up to meet it. However, pretty quickly I could feel that this fear was not the “what if it goes wrong” fear. Instead it was that feeling we sometimes get when we step towards our larger self, toward the sacred that lives in all of us, and animates our best work. Feels scary, right?  

In Hebrew, there are two words for this “fear” feeling. Pachad is the ordinary fear of “what if it goes wrong.” Yirah is this other thing we sometimes label as fear - the awe of inhabiting a larger part of our self. (See this blog post for more on this distinction between fear and awe.)

Honestly, this combination of deep longing and awe felt a little intimidating. I sat with my commitment, and all of these feelings – the longing, the awe, the sense of being intimidated or overwhelmed. Pretty powerful cocktail! Then I had a felt sense of my teacher, mentor, and dear friend Doug Silsbee standing with me. Although he died over a year ago, I could still feel him with me, guiding me and encouraging me. I was reminded that I’m not alone in my commitment. Friends, colleagues, and teachers stand with me. Deep sigh of relief and release.

This whole experience lasted only about three minutes, yet it transformed my relationship with my commitment to help other coaches develop - to nurture and evolve this new body of work that’s coming forth in me. The commitment packs a much bigger punch than before!

So what changed?

1.    LONGING:
That felt sense of longing that animates the commitment. I am present to the longing to deepen this body of work in myself, and through others.

2.    AWE:
The Yirah of this commitment. The sense of this being part of my calling in the world is now alive in me.

3.    SUPPORT:
I know that I’m not alone in this. It takes a village and there is a village.

If you imagine a different future for yourself or your organization (or the world, for that matter), see if you can identify your core personal commitment in that imagined future. Allow it to emerge fromyou vs. “figuring it out.” It will come from your felt sense of longing, and may inspire awe in you. Watch for those feelings. Then when you’ve landed on something that really resonates for you, remember who’s got your back, whose shoulders you are standing on.

And if you’d like some support for this process just give me a call. I’d love to help you discover the commitment that calls forth your bigger self in service of something that really matters to you.