Thursday, April 26, 2012

Legendary Leaders: Legendary Sensory Acuity

We were created with five senses. Given all the world has to offer our senses, it is a tragedy that so few of us seek to utilize and expand each of these portals of perception. We numbly walk through a world blazing with glory and beauty, ignorant of the joy and wonder that is constantly available to us—if we would only turn on and tune up all of our senses.
Think of the man who eats his food as if he were making love to it; the woman lost in wonder, while gazing at a painting; the young man with eyes closed as he sinks into the music he is listening to as if it were an ocean of happiness; the young woman running her hands across the silk scarf, behaving as if she were touching the Holy Grail itself; and the old man with the rose just beneath his nose, as reverent as a priest before the Eucharist.  Now. How many of these scenes were utterly incomprehensible to you? Those just might be your dormant senses: divine gifts, wasting away.
If you are asking what in the world exercising all our physical senses has to do with Legendary Leadership, it’s simple: Whatever adds to me as a human being, adds to me as a Leader.

The Soul’s Senses
The soul also has senses, or so I believe.  There is intuition, awareness of self and others … and empathy. As this is a relatively new thought for me, there are probably others, but the one I have been thinking about the most is empathy: the ability to perceive and share the feelings of others, to have understanding of an individual’s present psychological state.
We are experiencing empathy when we genuinely weep with those who are weeping and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Empathy “gets” that the other is frightened or angry, jealous or frustrated, confused or stuck, and treats these emotional states with appropriate regard. We are not being empathetic when we speak or behave as if our thoughts and feelings are all that matters.
How much weight are you going to give my words, if you do not perceive that I am feeling what you are feeling? How much of my communication is going to find its way into your head and heart, if you don’t believe I have sufficient understanding of where you are coming from or the emotional content behind your words and actions?
Just as we can be oblivious to one of our five senses so we can be insensitive and unmindful of the feelings and hearts of those around us. How often do we ask ourselves, “What is she feeling – right now – as I am saying/doing this?” While such empathy may not change the content of our communication, it can help us adjust our words or demeanor so that our communication can be more readily heard.
I think a mistake we all too often make here is projecting our feelings onto those around us.  “That wouldn’t bother me, so, of course, it won’t bother him.” “This is really interesting to me so it must be interesting to everyone else!” And we don’t give our words or actions another thought.
Legendary Leaders turn up all their senses. Getting inside the heads and hearts of others is critical to effective communication and powerful motivation.  Seek out those senses that you ignore and exercise them. Learn to see more clearly, listen more fully, and feel more empathetically.  Find people whose sensory acuity is superior to yours and model them, learn from them.  Your legend depends on it.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 All right reserved.

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