Success & Happiness = Being The “Supply” Rather Than The “Demand”
For the first time in awhile, I don’t have a management role where I work. Right now, all I want to do is moonlight at a restaurant, rather than invest the hours into running some aspect of it. Currently, I have too much else to do. So I’m not a leader there. Technically. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a leadership presence. Does this mean I do a lot of delegating and directing? Absolutely not (that would be insanely obnoxious). It just means I seek to give rather than take.
A real leadership presence is something that people don’t even know you’re trying to have. You just embody generosity of self and people feel uplifted without even necessarily knowing how to define why. You just behave with integrity without needing to compel others to do the same. Most of the time, you’re just being a silent example.
This is something you can do anywhere. With family and friends. It doesn’t require that you are technically in charge of anything (that role simply means that now these leadership qualities are essential rather than optional). And doesn’t require some authoritative alpha presence (something I am not naturally endowed with anyway).
It just requires that you’re conscious. Being conscious means your paying attention and having intention. Maintaining a leadership presence involves paying attention to how much energy you demand of others. And it means always having the intention to provide a lift to the energy of others rather than require an investment of theirs into you. Think about the presence of a king. A strong doesn’t need you to reassure him of his value.
When I arrive to work, I’m not always in the mood to have that presence. Perhaps the demands of the day have depleted me a bit. Perhaps I’m frustrated or unsure about something. Perhaps I have too much to do and when 4pm starts to creep up on me, I resent having to pull myself away from my projects. So I have to come back to the intention to be an example and give. And when I do, I can feel the strain of my inner struggles give way.
Besides that active embodiment of leadership, having practices that strengthen you internally, like meditation, build up these required energy reserves. The stronger this foundation gets, the more you have to give and the less you depend on others for anything. This sense of empowered independence doesn’t mean that you become indifferent to others – in fact your sense of interconnectedness with everyone amplifies rather than diminishes. It means that you don’t require that they invest their energy into making you feel better. You already feel sure about who you are and where you’re going.
This changes your entire presence, making it lighter and less demanding. Again, without even being sure why, people will like being around you more. You will then find that your behavior changes around this as well. Before I meditated, I depended more on the tolerance and good will of others. Tolerance of my shifting moods, my neurotic uncertainty about things, my overcooked reactions to challenges.
It’s self-imprisonment to depend on the good will of others. Because if they don’t have the energy to adapt to your difficult behavior, you get conflict and resentment. And even if they do, you are unnecessarily depleting them. You are an energy liability rather than an energy asset, and this ultimately strains group dynamics. And those that strain group dynamics do not get the same opportunities as those that contribute to them.
Dependence is what defines the life of a child. Their demanding, unreasonable behavior requires the patience and care of the parent. Maturing beyond childhood means developing greater and greater levels of self-sufficiency. First you become more able to provide yourself with the basic necessities of life (i.e. feeding yourself) and then you develop a subtler, more emotional independence as you emerge from adolescence. Here, you no longer need the constant coddling and reassurance that you are not deficient in some way. I’ve said before that maturity means you don’t waste your energy on things that don’t serve you. This also means that you don’t need others to replenish your depleted energy levels (“energy” being a generic way of looking at your inner fortitude, not just raw physical energy).
When you are serving, people are dependent on you. You need to tolerate their unreasonable behavior and invest your energy into giving them a lift. This means that you are in control of the situation. Although one may think of service as something “subservient”, it is in fact a place of power, demanding a tremendous sense of responsibility on your part. You need to have a good bank balance of energy to invest. Because if you go requiring the tolerance and good will of the people you are serving, then it not only results in them being poorly served, but it puts them in control of you.
As I shed my hang-ups, and the subtler and subtler layers of paranoia around them, I transitioned into becoming supplier of tolerance and good will, rather than the customer. If you want to look at the world as one giant economy of energy, isn’t it more empowered to be on the “supply” end of the chain rather than the “demand”? This is what gives you power and opportunity in life.