Dance Lightly

March 29, 2011 3 Comments

Photo by: Munana

The following is a letter by Akaya Windwood, President of the Rockwood Leadership Institute and member of the IISC Board of Directors…

Tsunamis. Unemployment. Volcanoes. Cote d’Ivoire. Homelessness. The Middle East. The Midwest. Pirates. Earthquakes. Drug and human trafficking. Union busting. Collapsing economies. Dropout rates. Nuclear fallout. Foreclosures. Floods.

Warm rains. Youth-led movements. Birdsong. Plum blossoms. Racial justice work in GLBTQ communities. Michelle Obama. Sweet peas. 100,000+ people in Madison. Cross-sector collaborations. Days growing longer. Foal season. Women in Egypt. Late winter full moons.

It’s a busy and fascinating time. Plenty going on to capture our attention.

As leaders, it can sometimes feel that it is our responsibility to respond to everything. I’ve been watching people valiantly trying to find some way do something about all that’s going on. The world can seem quite overwhelming right now.

Truth is – each of us can only do what each of us can do. I have to trust that someone else is tending to the things I cannot, and to continue to do my part, because someone else is counting on me. No one of us can possibly respond to everything. We need each other, and partnership is essential.

While I’m very aware of what those close to me are up to, I also have to trust in the efforts of people I may never encounter. I am clear that my fate is inextricably linked to the work of some young woman in Cairo whose name I will never know. We are mutually accountable, even if we never meet.

What does it mean to be in partnership with unknown kin? What is my relationship to the woman in Cairo? What might be my covenant with her?

Who are you counting on? Who needs to be able to count on you?

As I think about it, good partnership requires attention to personal well-being and sustainability. It does not serve the woman in Cairo for me to be worried sleepless or to neglect my welfare. It does her absolutely no good when I eat on the run rather than take the time to be grateful for what sustains me. And I want the same for her. I sincerely hope that she has time to restore herself – that she gets enough rest, and that she pauses to hug the children around her.

Personal sustainability requires balance. And it requires deep partnerships and trust. It’s important that we pay as much attention to the natural rhythms of the earth and the wonderful things going on in our lives, as we do to all of our challenges. And as effective, long-term leaders, it’s important to remember that we don’t need to take care of all of the challenges in the world, but to trust and support our sisters and brothers where they may best lead. We live in wonderful, terrible times. Both in equal measure.

Negotiating both the gifts and challenges of these times requires us to move forward as change agents by doing the best work we can do in the places we can be most effective. And at the same time, to dance lightly, in our lives and on the planet. So I invite you to dance. Lightly and in partnership. Let’s remember that we’re not alone, that we can solve what needs solving because we’re all connected. You, me and every woman in Cairo!

From my heart to yours.

March 2011


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