The core belief that underlies Leading from the Heart is that the universe and all life that it supports works according to a set of natural laws. These truths are immutable and, no matter how people try, resisting them is futile. As my high school biology teacher used to say, the Earth spins how it spins, and nothing you can do will change that. Therefore, accepting the natural order and aligning with it makes life easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.
Some truths that inform Leading from the Heart include the following.
The nature of the universe is to expand. It’s been expanding from inception. Life on Earth, as a creation of and as a part of the universe, is also expanding in a constant cycle of birth, growth, and death. Each individual and collection of individuals, including corporations, are, by their very nature, also expanding. The appropriate stance for a human or an organization is to both accept and be content with what is so today, while also living into the expansion.
Everything is in motion. Nothing stands still. The motion might be imperceptible from the perspective of the average human lifespan, as in the case of continental drift or even something as relatively speedy as the melting of an iceberg, but it is in motion. Therefore, every decision and action supports the forward motion or is a drag on it. In every moment as a leader, you are either reinforcing heart in the workplace or diminishing it. Nothing is without consequence.
The cycle of life applies to everything. Nothing and no one is immune to the cycle of birth, life, and death. It plays out multiples times and in all areas of life. Seasonality is an effective metaphor, as we all witness each year how life emerges in the spring, thrives in the summer, withdraws in the fall, and then is dormant in the winter, during which recovery occurs and life prepares for a new beginning again in the spring. It is a natural and necessary cycle.
Because everything goes through stages and nothing is permanent, recognizing where you are and where individuals on your team, your work, and your organization are in their respective cycles gives you insight into how best to support each one.
Time does not exist. Modern physics has shown us that the universe does not include what we as humans conceive of as time. Instead, all things are happening at once, even though past, present, and future seem distinct to us. It is virtually impossible to get your brain around this concept, and fortunately it’s not necessary. Instead, accept this idea intellectually and adopt one important belief: The only moment that matters is the present moment.
The critical application of this belief is that, as a leader, you must not decide ahead of time how something will be. As an expanding being (see first law), your perspective in this present moment is intrinsically more limited than it will be in a future present moment. What this means is that, if you decide ahead how something will unfold or will be, you limit its possibility to what is within your imagination in this moment, instead of allowing it to fulfill its possibility according to the future moment in which it comes to fruition.
The universe accepts and does not judge. The universe just exists. It is only humans who look at something and presume to apply judgement. This is not to say that you must suspend all judgement, or that there are not generally agreed standards of appropriate and inappropriate behavior in a society. However, our topic is leadership not morality, and in the context of being a leader, training yourself to refrain from judgement will expand your ability to see situations with greater clarity, because judgement is like a filter that only allows us to see what we want to see, instead of what actually is. When you judge, you are unable to know what you are not seeing. When you accept without judgement, then you can absorb the most accurate information about a situation and best determine the most appropriate action.
There was once a Taoist farmer. One day the farmer’s only horse broke out of the corral and ran away. The farmer’s neighbor, learning of the horse running away, said, “Oh that’s terrible!” The farmer replied, “Who is to say what is good or bad?” The next day, the horse returned bringing with it a whole herd of wild horses, which the farmer and his son quickly corralled. The neighbor observed, “What good luck!” The farmer replied, “Who is to say what is good or bad?” The next day, the farmer’s son fell off one of the wild horses and broke his leg. The neighbor said, “That’s terrible!” To which the farmer replied, “Who is to say what is good or bad?” The next day, a warlord came to the village to conscript soldiers. The farmer’s son, because of his broken leg, was not taken away. The neighbor said, “What good luck!” And again, the farmer said … “Who’s to say what’s good or bad.”