“There is certainly something in fishing that tends to produce a gentleness of spirit, a pure serenity of mind.” Washington Irving.
When Michael Jordan was on the court playing for the Chicago Bulls his presence brought the entire teams level of play up to another level. Some would call it mystical, or magical. This is what all great people do, as well, for others. They don’t set out to do this; rather it is a natural result of their own spirit’s power. This presence they exude I speak of can be called self-differentiation and it is inherent in all great leaders. This kind of leader is able to express himself or herself with the least amount of blaming, and the someone who has the greatest capacity to take responsibility for his or her own emotional being and destiny. They are people who are capable of, and often do, give their own “I have dream” speech. They are not autocratic; rather they tell where they stand and what they will and will not do. They say what they believe. And if necessary, are willing to go it alone. They are also people that persist in the face of resistance and sabotage.
It is also folly to think of such leaders as the ones others need to see as a role models, or that they should or can be copied. You cannot clone self-differentiation. It has nothing to do with whatever skills or technique a leader may possess. An anxious person could have the same skills and then anxiously misuse or distort these very skills with devastating results. Presence is also the capacity to differ with another while still remaining connected. These are calm people; they are able to not react quickly or become defensive. They are sometimes confused as being “cold” or “callous” or “unfeeling.” Usually such remarks are made by highly emotional and reactive people.
In order for one to become truly great at one’s life pursuits, there is a required evolving and growing – an inner transformation – of one’s soul that makes the person, not only better at their work, but a better person, in general. Unlike what too often passes for heroes these days is instead mere celebrity. NBA basketball superstars that pull guns on each other, golfers who have mistresses seemingly everywhere, baseball sluggers that use steroids, senators and governors that lie and serve only the wealthy, are not people living with any kind of gentleness of spirit. In spite of what is trendy these days, such people are actually failures. They are huge disappointments to themselves, and to the rest of us.
It is difficult to describe gentleness of spirit or pure serenity of mind, but when you are with someone with such qualities, it is obvious. It is monumentally huge and it is noteworthy. It is also contagious.