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No man is an island
A few days ago I happily unpacked a present which I gave to myself: the pamphlet of the Italian author Paolo Giordano ‘How contagion works’ (‘Nel contagio’). He wrote it during the first weeks of the Italian lockdown.
It is a small book and I read it in one go. This passage I found particularly interesting:
‘What we are experiencing goes beyond nations, beyond identities, beyond cultures… The epidemic is encouraging us to think of ourselves as belonging to one society. It is forcing us to use our imagination in ways that, under normal circumstances, we simply aren’t used to: to see ourselves as inextricably linked to other people, and to keep them in mind when we make our own individual choices. In times of contagion we are a single organism, a community… The community that should concern us, in times of contagion, is all of humanity.’
While some political leaders do not want to understand this message, I think it is important to focus on the positive implications of Giordano’s thought.
The virus without borders forces us to take a serious look at our ‘humanness’. We are inseparably linked with other people. We belong to a collective. We are human, and it is up to each of us to make that meaningful. This starts by activating our personal leadership. If everyone does this, we will become stronger through pooling together our talents and strengths to find solutions to many different issues that arise as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis.
“We are inseparably linked with other people. We belong to a collective. We are human.”
Personal leadership starts with taking responsibility; the responsibility to investigate what is truly important to you; the responsibility to question what impact your actions have on the people around you, and how large our small you make your circle of influence.
It is essential that you know what is important to you to prevent that you are ‘eaten up’ by a collective which does not represent your values. This is the difference between living and being lived.
To start your reflection on personal leadership, a few coaching questions:
- Where is your border between your own freedom and the health of others?
- How much interference in your privacy do you allow?
- What are other values and beliefs you have and which of those are particularly relevant now?
- What are your skills and how do you put them to use?
- With which information do you ‘infect’ others? What do you share on Social Media? Are they messages that bring people together or drive them apart?
- If you run a company or a division in a company, how much of your personal leadership do you show in a professional context?
- Where might you make a difference, even a small one?
A strong constitution
When we established our 3D-leadership concept a few years ago, we started from the premise that ‘formal’ leadership (ie having leadership responsibilities for other people) starts with personal leadership. When you activate your personal leadership first, your leadership style will be more in sink with who you are. In addition, the link with the vision of your company or company division will also be more clear. Personal leadership always comes first.
If all of us would activate his/her personal leadership we will become stronger from this crisis. Then the crisis becomes an opportunity.
‘No man is an island’, John Donne wrote 400 years ago. He meant by this that we are all connected with each other. Highest time to dust off this wisdom.