Powerful Medicine through Shifted Perspective
I’ve been reflecting about the nature of perspective, and how that can help or hinder our ability to navigate through difficulties. The social movements of Me Too, Black Lives Matter and others remind us of how much our limited perspectives can harm one another. The pandemic has offered us the mother of all opportunities to observe and learn about perspective—how the lens through which we are seeing influences our possibilities and our actions. What one of us does has a ripple effect on many of our fellow humans.
Looking to South Africa, a country whose human rights struggle for equality set the world on fire, consider this quote by Desmond Tutu:
“You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality-Ubuntu-you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently just as individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world.”
According to Wikipedia, “Ubuntu can best be described as an African philosophy that places emphasis on ‘being self through others’. It is a form of humanism which can be expressed in the phrases ‘I am because of who we all are.”
What we are experiencing now is a convergence of profound, global events that truly demonstrate the relevance of Ubuntu to us all. Although the philosophy originated in South Africa, a country whose relationship with systemic racism is legendary, there is much we can learn from the South African struggle for equality. It all has implications for leadership—of ourselves individually and collectively.
What would happen if leaders embraced Ubuntu? How would they be able to explore conflict and the resulting systemic dysfunction that can arise when people want to be right, or exert their authority in order to appear “strong” or “in charge?”
- If I was able to be my best self through others, what would I change?
- What would I start doing that I haven’t done before?
- What would I stop doing that isn’t working?
- What am I learning that matters as a leader of my team?
- How will I share it with others?
I invite you to share your comments here. This moment invites us all look inside to create Ubuntu now.