I was offered a complimentary astrology reading recently. I have a variety of feelings about astrology: On the one hand, it makes sense to me that the configuration of planets at the moment of my emergence into physical form would somehow reflect a vibratory resonance to the nature of my own personality quirks. On the other, I don’t understand how planetary formation can open the book into foretelling my future…or my past, for that matter. In this regard, I give full trust only to my own sense of “truth” and “rightness” of any conjecture made by the passing of planets through my “orbit.” But, hey, a free reading…I’m willing to give my time for the possibility of an opening into new insights and deepening understandings.
So, I listened, and it was all very entertaining. Who doesn’t love a block of time just about themselves? I know, right? Like finding out that I have, not only the same birthday as Edgar Cayce, but also the same rising sign and moon in the same sign as him. I don’t really know what it means, but it’s pretty cool, right? There was one area, though–and that’s really what this article is about–that engaged my mind to a new level of reflection. The astrologer told me that I have Mars in Aries which makes me a person of “exuberant energy and strong will” (his words) in the ninth house of spiritual and philosophic study in opposition to Saturn, the planet of structure and boundaries, in the third house of education and learning. The astrologer said this made me”feisty,” and I got the impression that what he meant by that was “hard to handle.” I heard the words he used, and then attempted to translate them into my experience in a way that made sense.
The very literal translation I could see was in the area of education: I did drop out of high school. I guess one could extrapolate from there that I wasn’t very good at following the structures and boundaries of the public school system. And it took my very strong “Mars in Aries” will to eventually make my way through the GED, undergraduate, and then graduate school…but, clearly, that wasn’t what he meant. So, I dug a little deeper. And resonated with this: “nobody is the boss of me.” Yep, that rang true. I know it sounds like something a ten year old would say… and it’s quite possible I did. But whether or not I said it out loud to anyone, ever, it is a lifelong attitude that has in some ways served me well and in some ways not so much.
Either way, I have never been one to take someone else’s opinion as truth without first holding it up to my experience and testing its veracity. I have never been one to accept anyone’s authority over me and my decisions unless they passed my internal assessment of credibility. Suffice it to say: I don’t follow others easily. Nor have I ever wanted to lead; mostly I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and my “exuberance of energy” isn’t known for patiently waiting for anyone to follow me.
But, of course, the very nature of being one who has exuberant energy and strong will made me a magnet for leadership positions from an early age. No wonder, then, that I was fascinated by the study of Group Process in graduate school–the study of how to engage a group to grow and evolve together with everyone leading some of the time through their character strengths and everyone participating from their own sense of personal power all of the time. Is it not the areas of inner tension in our personality aspects that create the most dynamic exploration? Indeed, I became a devotee, a lifelong learner if you will, of the “process” that groups experience in their evolution to productivity and success.
Groups of all sizes and purposes became the arena of my exploration–not always with successful outcomes, but always with passionate interest. I learned how to read who plays what roles in a group. I learned how to move the dialogue in discussion so that everyone felt their opinions and feelings mattered. I learned to tell what types of personalities “played nicely” with each other types and which ones formed organic tension by the nature of how they perceived or communicated in the world. I learned that most communication is actually nonverbal and transmitted through body language and/or emotional affect.
I learned how to quell the intensity of my exuberance and let others step forward into leadership roles. I learned to listen better. I learned the value of structure and rules…well, I am still learning these qualities. I learned it is a good thing to be someone who learns. And, perhaps, that is what truly defines good leadership–a willingness to listen and learn and step back so that others can step forward. I continue to ponder the astrological reading and what relevance it has for me on my journey.
One thing I am grateful for, in addition to the generosity of the astrologer, is that now I have another world view to consider and explore and integrate the dynamic called leadership. I stand in the ever-unfolding question of what creates effective leadership, engaged and observing, the world around me through all my myriad relationships and roles. Learning and integrating what I learn. Is it possible that is enough to define what leading is? What do you think?
Thank you. I love you.
2 Replies to “Pondering Leadership – How Life Works”
Leadership is such an elusive thing, I wonder sometimes if leadership is something that you either have a natural gift for or not. That’s my leadership question! Great topic and great article, can’t wait to see what else you have to say about leadership 🙂
That’s a good question, Alan! There are some people who tell me I am a “natural” leader… I’m not sure about that. But I am sure that I am not a natural follower 😛
I have lots of thoughts and questions bubbling up inside me about leadership these days so stay tuned…the ride could be a fun one 😀
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