By Shawn McAndrew
Lately I’ve been thinking about leadership. What is it? Is it for everyone? Can anyone be a leader, or is leadership only for “chosen” ones?
Years ago, I used to attend the monthly Hoffman graduate group. It took place at the Hoffman office in San Anselmo, California, and was always led by a Hoffman teacher (how lucky was I!). One evening, Cheshta Buckley, who was leading that night, gave a little pep talk about how each of us could lead this grad group. I knew he wasn’t talking to me. But he looked at me, as well as the others in the group. He emphasized how we each had the ability to become a leader, to lead graduates, to lead others in our lives.
“Oh no, not me,” I thought. I had no experience leading anyone, let alone a group of people who had done the Process.
“Ha-ha!” laughed the Universe.
Learning How to Lead
A year or so later I signed up to be part of the inaugural training class to learn how to lead and facilitate a graduate group. There were about a dozen of us, ranging from people who had just taken the Process, to those who had been around for a while (mind you, this was in 2000, and there were a lot fewer graduates in the world than there are now).
We learned about listening, leading visualizations, Process tools and practices, what it meant to “hold space.” Everyone practiced leading a group, leading ourselves, and supporting each other. We reviewed transference, and how to lead someone through sussing out patterns. There was plenty of bashing and recycling patterns.
The training took place over two different weekends, and at the end of it I couldn’t believe that Cheshta was right. I really could lead a graduate group. I could even be a leader in the broader sense, other parts of my life. Since then, I’ve taken on a variety of leadership roles. Above all, the most important leadership role I’ve fulfilled is that of leading my life.
One of the benefits of the Process is learning how to deal with controversy, how to strike down patterns when they rise up. Being a leader with the Process under my belt doesn’t mean patterns don’t arise or that problems are easier. It just means that I have lots of tools with which to address them, and I have an awareness that others may not consciously have. It also means that I can’t run away from problems for very long. I have a responsibility to deal with them. That’s what a leader does – face the problems and find solutions.
Recently some issues have come up with a couple of people in my life. They are not easy issues, and they make me want to run away and not ever have to face them (the issues and the people). It’s hard being a human some days. But, this is part of our journey in life – to face problems and create solutions. So, after some Hoffman tools work (awareness, expression, compassion and forgiveness), I was able to start accessing some possible solutions (new behavior) to the problems. The Cycle of Transformation is an ideal tool for leaders!
Not everything is perfect. I don’t know if the possible solutions I’ve come up with will work. The important thing is that I’m not off in the desert somewhere, hiding from everyone who really annoys me. And I’m not hiding from myself. It’s really important to know that we can have our emotions around a situation, but eventually we have to do something about it. Problems will not go away miraculously! That’s how you lead – whether it’s a group of thousands, your friends and family, or just yourself – by doing something.