s.u.m.m.e.r. xii: ceasing

“Hellhound”, you whisper under your breath, “hellhound, ghoul, vampire, or skeleton. What kind of algorithm would that be?!”. You just got the results for the ‘personality under rigoruous examination’ (p.u.r.e.) test you took with the reputable Visionary Institute for Xpertise (VIX). You had hoped to get some indications for possible alternative careers once your current contract runs out, but somehow it seems these suggestions are not very practical.

You shrug your shoulders and open Bahiyyih Nakhjavani’s “The Saddlebag” on page 145. “And in the remembrance of pity”, you read, “her soul began to speak to her like a trickle of water running through the dry rocks. Her soul sang a little song of fresh water that washed over her in waves, rising out of the well”.

You turn the page. “It reminded her of the voice of her mother singing songs to her when she was still a free child and her own voice singing the same songs to her dead baby. It was full of simplicity. And it came upon her unawares, between these waves, that while she might not have been an adulteress, she had committed the far graver sin of idolatry. Was that it after all? Was belief in a certain human perfection more vast a sin than disbelief?”. You look up from the book.

As a leader, time and again, you have to face the ending of things around you. Supplies run out, products no longer sell, software systems fail, brands go out of style, customers change their mind, and your best employees leave the company to move on to other shores. There is no stability in leading, and the illusion that leading could ever mean building something that lasts is one of the worst misconceptions leaders can fall prey to.

Honestly recognizing the impermanence of everything that is, including the impermanence of yourself as a leader, is one of the most sobering insights you’ll ever have – and at the same time one of the most liberating insights you’ll ever have. Leaders who lead not despite but because of the impermanence of what they do truly make a difference – because they know that anything that is built will eventually crumble, and anything that ever started will eventually cease. Facing death, such leaders live forever.

“Thief”, you slowly say to yourself, “Thief, bride, chieftain, moneychanger, slave, pilgrim, priest, dervish – or corpse. Eventually, corpse”. Deep in thoughts you leaf on to page 245. “We live”, you read, “thought the Corpse, as if we would live forever. And when we die, we think we will smell forever. But neither is true; it is a question of detachment”.


* This is the twelth (and final) of a series of blog posts exploring some uniquely motivating mindfully elaborated ramblings (s.u.m.m.e.r.) of mine, written during my summer vacation in 2019, investigating topics and trends relevant for leaders in today’s multilayered world. All persons, situations, and dialogues quoted are purely fictional, albeit informed by what I see happening in companies I work with. If you want to know what I do when I work, read more here and here [retrieved July 9, 2019].

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