“When there is an opportunity for people to mourn their losses, the horizon for rites that heal will be pure and bright, and healing will come pouring into the souls in a great moment of reunion.” – Malidoma Patrice Some, “Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community”
As we close out 2021 and head into 2022, we are so glad you are here with us, as we share highlights from our December edition of the LeaderStories: Whole Human Leadership monthly email newsletter (you can subscribe here).
During a recent editorial meeting, the LeaderStories team became increasingly excited about a central theme: the sounds of leadership, as we all acknowledged the power of music to make meaning and provide language for us in times of uncertainty, volatility and, yes, grief and loss. Music, and the arts more broadly, are sometimes the sole source of power, healing, and community that we can turn to in times of transition. With this in mind, we offer a recap of some of our favorite stories and tools of 2021.
This is What Leadership Sounds Like: if you've got a minute and a half, may we suggest you spend it with leaders like Eunbi Kim and Quan Neloms, who use music as a catalyst for education, empowerment, and equity.
Resources for healing and navigating change: While this time of year is often a season of excitement, celebration, and anticipation of the New Year, it is equally for many of us a time of grief, sadness and feelings of loss. Just think of the many people who are facing this season for the first time without a loved one who may have been lost to COVID-19, senseless violence, or a natural disaster.
The air of impermanence has been especially heavy over the past two years, and that’s why we wanted to uplift a resource recommended by ASU Lodestar Leadership Academy Alum Sadhna Bokhiria in her round up of inspiring resources: WeCroak – an app that helps you find happiness by contemplating mortality. Wait, before you think we’re leaning too much on the morbid, I can recall when my executive coach facilitated a reflective exercise that had me write my eulogy. The assignment helped me put my life and priorities in perspective, while giving me an opportunity to realign with my life purpose. We did the exercise together about six years ago and I think it’s time for another, updated version.
For so many leaders in this moment, we are seeking how to better manage transitions. Some of us have resigned from jobs, while others have accepted invitations for brand new callings or stretch assignments. Althea Allen Dryden, formerly with Cities United, aptly delivered guiding lights for us to navigate transitional leadership waters in her recent blog, Leading Well & for Wellness: From Old Shores to New, sharing:
“I’ve learned from many great leaders how to live, learn, listen, and love, but the greatest lesson may be how to leave. Old Shore New Shore taught me there are rituals necessary for good endings.”
Definitely revisit Althea’s blog to learn more about the rituals of good endings and managing messy middles. We in LeaderStories family and others within the American Express Leadership Academy network recently found ourselves practicing rituals of a good ending when we gathered on Zoom to celebrate Richard Brown, Vice President of American Express Corporate Social Responsibility and the American Express Foundation, who announced his departure after 14 fruitful years. While sad to see him go, we gathered to celebrate him, tell stories, laugh a lot, cry some and be reminded (yet again) that change is constant and as Dianne Reeves so beautifully shares in her classic musical tribute to her grandma, Better Days:
She said all the things you ask
You will know someday.
But you have got to live in a patient way.
God put us here by fate
And by fate that means better days.
She said, child we are all moons in the dark of night.
Ain't no morning gonna come 'til the time is right.
Can't get to better days lest you make it through the night.
You gotta make it through the night, yes you do.
- Dianne Reeves, Better Days
Wherever you are navigating, among old shores and new, may you be headed into Better Days. And may the sounds of this season in our leadership help guide you there.