As I sat at the bar and looked at myself in the mirror the answer became clear. The irony of the situation did not escape me. A bar is usually the place where things become less clear however, at that point there was unmistakable clarity. I had been here before, maybe not in this place but at this same juncture. The beginning.
Frank Herbert in his classic science fiction trilogy, Dune, begins with an oddly poignant statement, “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.” It is not a time that only happens once no matter what the cliché says about being again or being reborn. Every beginning is different. This is a truism that applies to everyone and most specifically leaders.
This is the time when leaders must be open to ideas from different audiences and different parts of the world. Leaders that build their style on models of the Nineteenth Century are not only out of touch but are most likely “out of here.” In this day and age, leaders are in constant change and must become masters of new beginnings. The successful transformational leader must think introspectively and globally at the same time.
It is my belief that we all need to become good at beginnings because life is full of them. Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. Life continually reinvents itself and we all wander in the same wilderness. Becoming too comfortable with the place you’re at, your accomplishments, or your capabilities invites stagnation. Greatness is a transitory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind.
The secret is to recognize that the beginning itself is what is significant. The opportunity to attack a problem from another direction and possibly pull out a noteworthy end is a challenge without equal. Things will go wrong. Every civilization must contend with an unconscious force which can block, betray or countermand almost any conscious intention of the collectivity. However, things will also go right, and the delicate undertaking of the beginning will increase the rights and decrease the wrongs.
In the mirror, for leaders, as for all of us, “Truth suffers from too much analysis.” (Herbert) It is the challenge of beginning, the opportunity, and getting the balance right that makes life worth coming back. It is always our chance to begin, again.