It all began with a quote: “Wisdom tends to come above ground at times when the planet is going through great changes or when consciousness is about to take a major new leap to a new place, a new level of understanding.” These words, shared by author Cynthia Bourgeault, led Dr. Deborah Rundlett, director of The Meetinghouse, to interview 50 Ridgefield leaders to learn where they were experiencing “wisdom coming above ground.” In addition, she conducted 25 interviews with global leaders as a comparison.
She will be sharing these learnings next week at the International Academy of Management, Spirituality and Religion when it meets in Vienna. Close to forty scholars from 17 countries and four continents, will share their wisdom and insights as they reflect on future research directions for Management, Spiritual and Religion.
Two key themes emerged from her interviews: Embodiment, Self-Awareness, and Broad Middle. In multi-disciplinary studies, embodiment is understood as the path to self-awareness, leading to wise actions. In Rundlett’s words, “The whole leader calls for the whole person: Body, Mind and Soul”.
“The whole leader calls for the whole person: Body, Mind and Soul”
One of the questions asked in the interviews is “where do you experience wisdom in your body”? Responses were diverse and profound. For many wisdom is found in the heart. For others, the solar plexus. For one leader, in his ears. While his first inclination would be to say his heart, he went on to say “I don’t really think that’s the answer that I want to give. I think that it’s in my ears. It is a sense of recognition… you know it when you heart it. And maybe not immediately, but it lingers in your ears.” Another described it in this way: In my body? It’s that sense that I get, that intuition that I feel in my body through the power of the pause.
"Wisdom is the recognition of how things work together for the common good.”
This leads to the second theme that emerged, that of self-awareness. Ridgefield leaders are self-aware. Each of the leaders interviewed recognized and took responsibility for their emotions and their actions. They knew themselves, which allowed them (most of the time) to control their emotions in response to challenging times. And in those times when emotions were not under control, to take responsibility for their own actions.
For some, there was a link between spirituality and wisdom. For others, not at all. For many, wisdom was linked to life experience but not dependent upon it. Practices shared to support the nurture of wisdom included meditation, gratitude, listening and compassion. In closing, Rundlett shared one leader’s definition of wisdom: It “is the recognition of how things work together for the common good.” The common good!
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