Listening at the Mat
Many of us are leaders in some way. Maybe in our families, at work, in our volunteer activities. We find a place where we can use our gifts and we try to use them well. Some of us are unlikely leaders, never meaning to be, but still being just that. Over the years I think I have learned some things about leadership that matter.
Ever since I was a small child I liked to lead the way. "What are we gonna play today?" I always had an answer.
"Where should we go fishing?" I knew a spot."
"What's Barbie gonna go at today? We are gonna build her a house. Go get your mothers maxi pads cause Barbie needs a new bed." That was actually one of the first signs of my creativity. Alternate uses for things I did not need.
Leadership is fun because often you get to steer things your way. At least it starts out that way. I have found though that when you are in a leadership role you have to be careful of the sound of your own voice. You have to question what it is you think you want. You have to question whether this is just about you, or if it is about your community and the people you work with. Who needs what?That is the question you sometimes need to pose.
One of the most important things in leadership is to listen to yourself, not necessarily to what you are saying but to what you are feeling. It is that underside of ourselves that we need to really listen to. I find writing helps with that. It is hard enough to tap away on the keyboard but if you are just saying what you think you should be saying then there is absolutely no reason to tap away at all. Writing and journalling helps us find out what we really think and feel. I am often surprised at the answers.
Rug hooking does that too. It draws out my ideas and helps me find my voice. It slows me down and makes me consider. I sit down thinking of a renovation and stand up feeling like enough is enough. It makes me ponder. What is right? What is needed? What will really make me happy? Honestly, it is one of the reasons why somedays I just need to hook. It is because when I hook I remember what's important. I also remember who is important. Art, craft, making, rug hooking for us, takes us to the centre of ourselves and back out again. And it can be quite a trip. If you want to listen to yourself, hook a rug. If you want to know what you really think hook ten rugs. The answers are in your hands.
But still you have to listen. Listening is at the core of leading. Whether it is leading your own life or leading others.
You cannot just listen to yourself, you have to listen to others too. Listen closely, but also listen deeply. For like the rugs we make, we are each made up of many parts brought together into the whole. And it is in this togetherness that beauty emerges and we can hear and see the fullness of our being.
- Deanne Fitzpatrick