My partner and I were discussing leadership and how important it is to have good leadership that guides and encourages people. Then while watching the youtube clip of Whoopi Goldberg singing ‘Oh Happy Day’ from Sister Act, (don’t ask) it got me thinking about religion and the way it provides leadership, guidance if you will, for many people.
We all look for good leadership / guidance in this world, even leaders look to other leaders for the same quality.
Can you imagine a workplace birthday party where no-one from management mentions the birthday or the person in question and the staff are left to stand awkwardly around the cake second guessing when to sing the birthday song? The person celebrating the birthday can’t start the singing as that would just be wrong, and it would seem creepy if Janice in accounts just started the opening refrain without any prompting from anyone. Leadership is simple and as necessary as a boss making a simple announcement, then letting people know when the time is right to sing.
Workplace birthday events aside, it’s interesting to note that many of the great eastern traditions, ancient philosophers, new age thinkers and early Christianity, encouraged people to look inwards for guidance instead of looking outwards. It’s finding that inner moral compass, learning to feel for the hunches and intuition, and hearing that small guiding voice that encourages us and lets us know we’re on the right path.
So have we relied too much on external leadership and guidance to the neglect of our internal version?
I know from personal experience that I have a band of merry characters that I can access when I am quiet and introspective and they provide a host of important guidance and information that helps me get the most out of this life. I can also understand that people would consider this be grounds for immediate incarceration in a mental ward however my internal guidance makes more sense than most of the advice coming from our so called external leaders including politicians, the media and religious folk. This is still an ongoing process and I’m nowhere near to completely trusting myself and what I find, but the feeling that this is the right thing to do is overpowering.
It takes bravery to break free of the herd mentality and search inside for that guidance where at first you are all on your own until you realise that you are in fact not alone at all. It also takes a lot of trust to understand that you cannot know beforehand where you are going and what you will find when you get there.
Maybe it is in fact more like that awkward workplace birthday party where you just have to go it alone and start singing ‘happy birthday’ without any nod of approval from someone else.
And once you start singing, you quickly find that you are not alone at all.
(I had no idea where I was going with this post and I’m kind of inspired where it ended up.)
To read more about learning to follow inner guidance, check out Turning Inside Out.