Lead: Are You at a Crossroads?

Crossroads

Are you at a crossroads? Maybe it’s an opportunity for pause that goes deeper than choosing direction or what project to take on now. I’m thinking of an identity crossroads, a transformational juncture leaders periodically encounter.

“Who am I now and what am I creating with my choices?”

I remember sitting with a friend about a year ago at a literal crossroads on our hiking trail. He was awakening to powerful new truths about himself and deliberating about letting go of identities - both professional and personal - with which he no longer felt aligned. He could no longer be that person; the weight of trying was crushing him. ...
Crossroads

Are you at a crossroads? Maybe it’s an opportunity for pause that goes deeper than choosing direction or what project to take on now. I’m thinking of an identity crossroads, a transformational juncture leaders periodically encounter.

“Who am I now and what am I creating with my choices?”

I remember sitting with a friend about a year ago at a literal crossroads on our hiking trail. He was awakening to powerful new truths about himself and deliberating about letting go of identities - both professional and personal - with which he no longer felt aligned. He could no longer be that person; the weight of trying was crushing him.

He could foresee ripple effects of a new “no,” a new definition of self that no longer included certain ways of being. People around him had shaped their lives around what had been a “yes.” His choice to change was going to things in motion for a bigger system, like it or not. For my friend, a new “yes” was compelling. A new sense of self was opening his heart, body, mind and vision in ways he had never experienced before.

Even so, at the crossroads, he felt torn, conflicted and uncertain about how to navigate the transition honorably, responsibly, and with kindness not just for others but also for himself.

For someone accustomed to being in the lead and valued for decisive action, being at the crossroads can be unsettling and tender. It’s a time of collecting oneself while also letting go. Letting go of a hard-earned identity and stepping into the unknown can be easier said than done. Choices he had made now seemed wrong; he had to find his way to “I’m ok.”

In The CEO and the Monk, the authors describe an unorthodox process for getting an entire organization emotionally and spiritually aligned for a C-change they were simultaneously resisting and trying to embrace. To get to the heart of the matter, they set up a ritualistic funeral for the way things had been, what they were attached to and had liked. Instead of summarily dumping what had worked, they honored it for all the ways it had brought them to this juncture. The ritual cleared a surprising willingness to make new choices.

At the crossroads with my friend, we sang. First we sang a Song of Virtues. We named the self he was letting go of and showered that self with sincere appreciation, honoring his good name and truly good works. Doing this had never occurred to my friend; he knew to “soldier on,” focused on making the next thing happen. Singing a Song of Virtues took him completely by surprise and moved something significant.

When the tears stopped and breathing softened again, we sang a new song. This was a Song of Courage and Welcome for his Emergent Self. We gave that Emergent Self a name, too. With greater clarity and joy, we sang for embodied courage and to celebrate his choice to be fully alive and fully present for what was next on his unique, unfolding journey.

At the crossroads that day we listened more deeply and gave voice to something essential for letting go while also stepping forward. It was an instance of shared creativity and compassionate mindfulness. My friend remembers that day as a turning point, a bridging moment.

Pause, breathe and notice. Are you at a crossroads? Letting go makes space for what’s alive and wanting to emerge now. To the self you have outgrown, what is your Song of Virtues? To your Emergent Self, what is your Song of Courage and Welcome? Kindly sing yourself into being for now.

Here’s something else about being at a crossroads. Where are you with this? Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview.

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