Sunday, 25 January 2009

Cat Stevens - Morning has Broken (Eleanor Farjeon)

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where His feet pass.

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's recreation of the new day.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Eddi Reader, Aye Waukin-O (Robert Burns)

Ay, waukin-O, [always awake]
Waukin still and wearie;
Sleep I can get nane [none]
For thinkin on my dearie
Ay, waukin-O.

Simmer's a pleasant time, [summer]
Flowers of ev'ry colour;
The water rins o'er the heugh [runs over the bank]
And I long for my true lover.

When I sleep I dream,
When I wauk I'm irie; [apprehensive]
Sleep I can get nane
For thinking on my dearie.

Lanely night comes on, [lonely]
A' the lave are sleepin; [all the others]
I think on my bonny lad [beautiful]
And I bleer my een wi' greetin. [I blear my eyes with weeping]

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Leadership of Oneself and Others

At the time of a new and much heralded president taking office in 2009 in the U.S., I was thinking, "Why do we need leaders?" and "What are the essential qualities of leadership that promote innovation and change?". So I've been reading around what others have written on the subject and thinking about it and also thinking that this applies just as much to the question of leading oneself on whichever path we choose. Here are some not-so-ordered thoughts, some of which I admit I haven't fully digested myself, so I hope it makes sense and do tell me what you would add!
The purpose of leadership is to organize a group of people, the society, so as to enable, encourage, enthuse and help each member to fulfill their maximum potential in pursuit of common goals, accommodating individual needs and fostering, inspiring, directing and harmonizing individual aspirations for the common happiness and good of each and every one, and not causing harm either to those within your society or to those outside it.

Freshness - creativity, looking at things with the eyes of a child with the willingness to play around, to test hypotheses, to jump to conclusions, to adapt quickly to new evidence that contradicts your conclusions, to come up with new conclusions, to make quick decisions, to get back up from setbacks, to learn from failure and quickly start anew, to listen to one's emotions, to forgive, to forget and never to regret.

Understanding - knowledge, active reading, seeking out people who can help us, always listening, learning and open to new ideas, aware of any signs that we have gone astray, gaining experience and digesting and thinking through what we already know to better understand its implications, to resolve contradictions and to find out what we do not know, to distinguish intuition from impulse, to identify bad habits through meditation and cultivating awareness and by replacement eliminate them, to reject temptation and only afterwards turn to reason lest reason be justifier of temptation, and finally alongside good habits to develop right judgement with a strong mind and a pure heart.

Nurture - care of new ideas, and new people, both the young and those who haven't yet settled into the function that society has bestowed on them. They need to be protected, watered and given warmth until they are big enough to look after themselves and find how they fit into the whole and they must learn of the rules and principles that have developed over time to keep the whole well organized, efficient, harmonious, fair and true, and question and mould these principles and abide by them and develop good habits and not let these disintegrate over time so as to maintain a safe and happy environment for all.

Life - making things real to generate excitement and motivation, imagination used to create mental blueprints for action, concrete goals.

Ambition - vision of distant horizons and the ambition to take small steps to get there, to not lose sight of the bigger picture, a balanced approach, to make progress little & often in all departments, to distinguish between commitments and interests and to reduce randomness. Having committed to something, to pursue it with dynamic will power and be attentive to the inner voice of our conscience to keep us on the right path, and charisma to share your vision with those around you.

Momentum - concentrate on one thing at a time, go to the root and take massive action, energy and joy and tireless work that doesn't feel like work at all.

Bravery - confidence in yourself and others, fearlessness, perseverance, willingness to take risks, to make difficult decisions, to lead by example, to be peaceful and kind without compromising the truth or one's ideals, to do what is right and to take responsibility.

Signalling - signposts along the path, clarity, feedback, measuring success, accountability, calm proportionate action, follow-through for the path has no endpoint and there are always new horizons, humility, patience, generosity, compassion, diplomacy, equality, bonding, unity & oneness. Consideration and attentiveness to the needs of others, sincerity & thoughtfulness, kindness and understanding, expecting the best from people but not taking them for granted, gratefulness, doing your best for each of them, breaking down delusions and barriers of otherness. Just as important as what you do is the spirit in which you do it. Broadcast peace, prosperity and love.

But how to put all this into practice? Now that is the mark of a great leader...

If life were a test,
How would you do better?

If life were a tennis match,
Could you win against yourself?

If life were a piece of music,
How should it be played?

If life were a summer breeze
Have you learnt how to fly?