Much of my work as a speaker and author is to help people to shift. Despite my best intentions, it can be very confronting for some. On more than one occasion, I have been challenged by someone, something like “I don’t think what you are proposing would work at all.” The first time this happened, I was shocked, and my ego wanted to respond with something like, “I’ve written five books on this subject, of course it works.” Ego wants only to hear and respond to the words. Instead, I listen not to the words, but to the pain.
Imagine the courage it takes for someone to stand up in front of a few thousand of their colleagues and challenge a keynote speaker—what kind of suffering would drive them to confront so publically?
When connecting with Sesshin (compassionate heart), it becomes clear. To accept what I am suggesting as a different way to teach to this person means accepting that what they have been doing is wrong. From this heart space I’m able to respond to the pain. “I have no doubt that you give everything for your students, and hold nothing back. But with new information comes new possibilities. What you have been doing is not wrong or harmful—it has been 100%, and now with new knowledge today, that 100% will be different tomorrow than it was yesterday. Is it better? No, it’s just different.”
Suddenly, everything is calm, and someone can move past the obstacle to transform. Being a leader is not about being above others. Leadership means being responsible for holding your ego, hearing others pain instead of their words, and lifting them up above you and above their own former selves.