Susie and I have spent 30 years working on our relationship, and we are still learning. One of the lessons we need to keep learning is about revising an attitude of management. Consider for a moment the thought of managing our intimate relationships: personally, I can think of nothing more damaging to intimacy and any attempt to manage is bound to end in tears. And then the thought of managing our children is an even more horrifying thought. Management is logic made form and is sure to reduce any process to its lowest common denominator, and most likely end in conflict.
We can see this in living colour in our news feeds this week here in the UK, as one manager attacks another manager about their style and effectiveness in responding to a crisis. Management in business quickly impedes and stifles creativity, let alone leadership effectiveness. It will certainly take the passion and responsiveness out of everything and make the process dull and boring. Management is an attempt to make things safe, but business success is based on taking risks not on safety.
Management takes a world of unlimited possibilities and reduces it to just a few we can think about and cope with. Management is often an expression of our limitations. I can hear the chorus of people saying, ‘but you have to manage, or things will get out of control and mayhem will ensue!’ But we are not suggesting doing nothing; on the contrary we suggest that we learn to take responsibility, responsibility for everything in our lives. Now take a moment and think of taking that much responsibility, responsibility for your relationships and for every aspect of your working life including all those in it; does it feel onerous and heavy? Then you have confused responsibility with guilt and sacrifice which are two things we all need to clean up and get past.
An underlying connotation in the management approach is, ‘if it goes wrong, then we will know who to blame’. But blame is the opposite of taking responsibility and limits us to feeding the fear of someone getting it so wrong – hopefully not us.
Responsibility is a light thing with little or no weight to it, for responsibility is just that: the ability to respond in a natural way to everybody and everything in our lives. It is like you move to the center of the wheel and engage, you connect with everyone and everything. We don’t necessarily have to do anything for even a smile is a good form of response and done with intention and consciousness it can shift a whole day. As Mark Twain put it, ‘I can live a whole week on a compliment!’
Once we start to take responsibility then we also start to win our giftedness back, we find we have responses we had long forgotten about. Like spontaneity, humour, empathy, partnership, kindness and the list goes on and on. This then leads to our creativity and we now become a leader and life becomes fun again. We also allow for our intuition to show up giving us solutions to issues that lie beyond our imagining, and we come to see a sea of possibilities and learn to grow quiet confidence in our abilities and how we apply them.
Today, bring to mind areas in your relationships or life situations that you try to manage, and ask how is that going for you? How effective is it, how heavy does it feel?
Would you imagine changing that attitude of managing into one of responding? A life of responsibility! No fear of the past or the future, just freedom to enjoy and respond to the present moments, moment by moment by moment . . .
Have a great holiday weekend,
Jeff and Sue