As a postscript to the series about secrets, perhaps let me add a word about their potency, weight or burden.
I was brought into confidence yesterday about a matter (which of course I can’t disclose) that involves me which was of such weight that I nearly “lost it.” I felt like I was going to fall over the flat edge of the Earth.
I’ve “lost it” several times in my life, sometimes through overwork and sometimes through coming down too fast or being jarred out of a peak moment.
In this case, it was the momentousness of the matter, the considerations of whether or not I was capable of handling what was being asked of me, and the wholesale change in my life that the assignment represented.
It was also as if a door was being opened which, if I stepped through it, my life would never be the same. It wasn’t entirely the actual matter in hand that singlehandedly caused the change. It was the door that it opened and what it appeared to mean for the future.
My future changes so often and so rapidly that I have to let go of all set plans, from here to an indefinite time in the future.
Did I have the capacity to grow that much? I felt dizzy from it all.
It’s a day later and one of the changes that the secret has rendered in me is that I’ve lost interest in being around people who make small talk. I almost want to run for the door.
I both need confidantes and at the same time have to keep very important matters to myself. Exactly at the time when I need to share, I have to be very circumspect about what I share.
All of these are typical of the challenges facing us as leaders. This is the territory we’re invited to enter. I can only hope that the bridge that was not there a minute ago will be there when I take my first step. I can only hope that I grow into the roles being held out to me and don’t succumb to “losing it,” the back door of illness and breakdown that all of us perpetually keep open for ourselves.
I don’t have the luxury of having a breakdown these days as I did in college, say, so now I have to search for ways of managing the swooning dissonance that comes over me when I even think of managing such a big and different role. Should I now start running (not running away but running as exercise, to burn off dissonance)? I can’t afford the fitness programs available these days or I’d go work out on a treadmill or find a punching bag and let off some steam.
Or does the answer lie in meditation? I don’t know.
But, as I said some years ago, I’m again growing in all directions at once and there’s no manual I’m aware of that I can thumb through and learn how to handle exactly this new set of responsibilities. Granted we have guides, but I’m not aware of them or their guidance and so it feels as if I’m alone. And yet there is no breathing space. We must plough on.