- What choice(s) do I have to make today...right now...in the immediate future?
- Who will be impacted by these choices and what are the positive and negative consequences that may result?
- What role can I play in considering the needs of others (and myself) as I make this decision?
- What is my heart telling me now? Is this desire righteous and in line with serving God and the needs of others?
- If not, what can I do to surrender this selfish desire?
- How can I live a more heart-felt life today?
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Lessons from Yoga: Lead With Your Heart
"To lead yourself, use your head. To lead others, use your heart."
As a leadership educator, I tend to collect quotes that describe various leadership models and practices - and others that I really just enjoy! I was reminded of the above quote this past week while I was at my Wednesday yoga class because the instructor always reminds us to "lead with your heart" as we fold into a forward bend or when we lower ourselves to the ground. This phrase always makes me pause and think about the concept of leading with our hearts - when, how, and why do/would we do it?
Before I began to answer this complex question, I want to start by unpacking some the assumptions that surround leading with one's heart (v. solely with one's head). Others may interpret this phrase to mean not using rational thought or cognitive reasoning which can result just following their heart blindly and hurting themselves and others in the process. I would argue this this impression is not one of leadership (which should look out for the needs of others as well as the self), but rather one that is driven by selfish ambition, pride, lust, and other self-motivators that ignore the thoughts, feelings, and needs of others.
When I consider leading with one's heart, I look at this action as something very rational and realistic. When we choose to lead with our hearts, we have already engaged our mind and connected it to our heart in order to act with emotional intelligence, compassion, and consideration for others. The actions that result from leading with our hearts are, therefore, more intentional and rational even than just leading with one's head because they require that we consider much more before making decisions.
However, with this being said, we must also consider what are the driving forces and motivators behind these heart-actions. The Holy Bible has many things to say about the human heart, including Jeremiah's famous words below:
"The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?"
Here, the heart is not portrayed as something good and wholesome on its own; rather, when left to our human devices and desires, wickedness, deceit, and unrighteous action will often result. Thankfully, our loving Creator God is our "heart-partner" and will search our inwards thoughts, desires, and plans in both our hearts and minds in order to help lead and direct us properly as the next verse in Jeremiah shares:
"I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings."
We also are shown examples where individuals sought God's "heart leadership" and asked for His direct intervention and guidance in their lives, such as King David's prayer below:
"Search me, O God, and know my heart;Try me, and know my anxieties."
We are also told in Ezekiel that our human heart of stone (cold, unforgiving, hardened) will be replaced with hearts of flesh that desire to act in complete harmony and unity with God. This promise shared below is one of the most encouraging scriptures about the heart:
"Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God."
As we practice the action of leading with our hearts with these thoughts in mind, here are some guiding questions to ask yourself as you make important decisions: