I am drawn to two very different subjects: mysticism and business leadership. To me,
they seem incredibly similar in many ways. Here’s one example:
“The land they
see, and of which they report to us, is the land towards which humanity is
going. They are like the look-out men upon the cross-trees, assuring us from
time to time that we are still upon our course.”
Do you think this
passage is talking about a mystic, or a business leader? In today’s world,
leaders are being expected to not only keep profit in mind, but also take into
consideration the impact the organization has on employees, the community and
the surrounding ecology. To understand all of these elements, they must be visionary,
looking out ahead from the tree tops at more than where there own organization
is going. They must also look at where humanity itself is going, and expecting,
in order to see how their own organization can adjust to meet those future
needs. In fact, it was just a few years ago that I heard the
leader-atop-the-tree-tops analogy from an international business leader.
On the other hand,
mystics have been looking at where humanity is going and how best to address
those needs for centuries. There world appears to be the tree-tops with a firm
foundation in universal virtues, living examples of servant leadership hundreds
of years before the term was coined by Robert Greenleaf.
As I begin to
contemplate the foundations of leadership, and the impact of servant
leadership, coupled with my ongoing fascination with spirituality and
mysticism, I am seeing through a new lens. Servant leaders appear to be to the business community what mystics have been to the church.
The quote above,
by the way, is from The Essentials of
Mysticism and Other Essays by Evelyn Underhill (p. 43). She made a lifetime
study of what mysticism is and how to define a mystic, originally writing this
passage in 1910.