The Grasp of Your Hand

Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2011 in Community, Courage, Creative Teambuilding, Leadership

handsThe Grasp of Your Hand

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but
for the heart to conquer it.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
but hope for the patience to win my freedom.
Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling
Your mercy in my success alone; but let me find
the grasp of Your hand in my failure.

-Rabindranath Tagore

On Monday and Wednesday last week, as part of the New Mexico Municipal League’s Municipal Officials Leadership Institute (MOLI), I had the pleasure of facilitating leadership training for 10 mayors and council members from small communities around New Mexico.

On Wednesday, I presented the Poetry Table. The basic details of the activity are that each participant picks a poem that has meaning from a selection of approximately 100 poems. Each participant is invited to read the poem twice in his small group and answer a series of questions about his experience of the poem.

Dave, a mayor, picked the above poem and talked about how lonely it can be to be an elected official. The demands are non-stop and aren’t confined to ‘office’ hours. He was struggling with the city council. Citizen-allies of those council members were lined up against him. He was feeling isolated and his isolation was feeding a growing sense of doubt and defeat. His fellow mayors and council members nodded their heads. They could relate to his challenge.

Although I’m sure small towns have their own particular challenges where everyone knows almost everyone else, the problem of isolation seems to me a problem anywhere and in any organization where there isn’t a strong sense of community.

A goal of MOLI is to build a support network so the elected officials have peers in other communities they can turn to.

All leaders need peers to turn to. Isolation is debilitating. We don’t make our best decisions when we are isolated and the things we create contain a quality of our isolation and are diminished by it.

I am reminded of a phrase I love: “I have to do it by myself and I can’t do it alone.” We have to turn to one another.

Image:  Tela Chhe

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