Spirituality refers to the human effort to become a person in the fullest sense of the word, to develop one’s authentic self. This effort filled experience has been referred to as climbing a ladder to higher levels, following a river as it winds towards its own mature union with the ocean, or as the climbing of a mountain, but most of all as a journey filled with ups and downs but satisfying at the end. Spirituality is the ordering of our lives so that we continually grow in positive ways. It embraces all of life, leaving nothing out, and makes of us all well-balanced, well-rounded, well-integrated human beings, personally, socially, and cosmically. So, spirituality embraces all of life, making sure that every facet of life responds to the inner call to live fully at any given moment. This implies that spirituality is all about relationships, with oneself, with other people, with communities, with the world around us, and with God. It is the ordering of our lives so that the values of the inner self shine forth in all we do. Spirituality is not some non-descript emotional feeling of piety and religious devotion, but it takes as its starting point the concrete circumstances of our daily lives; our lived experience in the world we know. It is a journey in which the best values of humanity help give direction to life and help one advance towards achieving the enrichment of an adult personality. It refers to one’s entire life based upon decisions that show fidelity to the inner motivation of life, and so it is integral to leadership.
We have gone through a trying decade in leadership. So many leaders today work in situations of ambiguity, tension, and often despair (“despair” comes from Latin and means “no hope”). They see failed leadership all around them, incompetent politicians, irresponsible boards, and greedy CEOs. In the eyes of many, today’s leaders fail to cope with the big issues, have lost people’s confidence, and people dislike them. Our world of leadership is depressing, it lacks accountability, so-called leaders burden their followers with their incompetence and then leave, and fear is made systemic. We are surrounded with wars, economic failures, organizational disasters, immorality, political processes that do not work, and a loss of meaning in many organizations we had formerly cherished—all the result of failed leadership. Many followers just do not believe it can get any worse; people are losing resilience and vitality. No one can lead when surrounded with so much negativity towards leadership, but we must find and cultivate leaders who can move us in a new direction, inspire us and draw us to a worthwhile future, and thereby give meaning to our present and provoke a hope for change. We desperately need a new kind of leader, a spiritual leader to bring us to a new era of leadership.