SOME PRACTICES THAT SPIRITUAL LEADERS CAN EMPHASIZE
3. THINK, MEDITATE, CONTEMPLATE
Leaders of hope are men and women of wisdom who make their judgments based on a combination of conceptual thinking, imaginative skills, an artistic sense, intuition, contemplative insight, and the system and community skills of love. These components of decision-making imply new ways of thinking, meditating, and contemplating. These leaders process information for judgment in more integrative ways and always in light of the vision of promise. Making practical judgments requires all the usual research and analysis, but it also becomes a work of art, of hope-filled critical analysis, and of love, thus integrating and reconciling efficiency with the vision of hope. We must imagine possibilities outside of conventional categories, envision actions that cross traditional boundaries, and anticipate repercussions and take advantage of interdependencies, to make new connections or invent new combinations.
Nowadays we no longer value leaders who can make snap judgments, but those who think things through and make correct judgments. We have no use for the so-called leader who makes “those tough decisions,” but one who thinks of every alternative and of everyone involved, and comes up with a decision that is hope-filled in difficult times. We value leaders who have intellectual curiosity.
The leader of hope is not satisfied only with thinking, but learns to discover and appreciate deeper levels of meaning through meditation. This latter is a discursive form of reflection; in quiet and peaceful recollection a person leaves aside prejudices and prior thought patterns and opens mind and heart to the pros and cons of each issue. This detached reflection process enables a leader to see the positive and negative aspects of decisions. No one has speedy answers to today’s complicated issues in leadership; often it is not clear what is ethical and what is not, what is for long term benefit and what is not, what is selfish and what is altruistic. One needs to ready one’s heart and soul to make good decisions today. Meditation is primarily an individual practice, but leaders can also achieve its basic purpose in group or team reflection on issues under discussion. As one practices meditation, it becomes less a method and more a simple way of calmly thinking things through. Moreover, the more one uses meditation with skill, it becomes less an exercise of thought and more one of love.
Meditation is discursive thought but gradually becomes a form of prayerful reflection on concrete matters to determine how things ought to be done according to the vision of promise. Gradually, this process becomes simpler until it is a form of centering mind and heart on the issues. Once learned and practiced well it takes less time and is similar to “centering prayer.” Less and less discursive, one’s heart detached from prejudices, one’s whole being desirous of doing good, the leader of hope become contemplative in his or her approach to life’s issues. Contemplation is non-discursive; a more intuitive experience in which a prayerful leader just sees what is the right thing to do. More than a process it is an experience. Too many individuals make decisions based on their accumulated experiences, others on the best of current knowledge and research. All that is fine, even desirable. However, leaders of hope base decisions on the vision of God’s plan for humanity, and they learn of that in reflection, mediation, and contemplation.
1. Make judgments you can live with and die with.
2. Train yourself to leave aside prejudice in decision-making.
3. Learn a simple method of meditation; if necessary find a teacher.
4. Think of the consequences in others’ lives of what you do.
5. Besides preparing yourself with research and analysis for your work as a leader, also ready your heart and soul.