This morning, the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship 2011 hosted a rare panel entitled, Deep Leadership: Interior Dimensions of Large Scale Change. Mabel van Oranje moderated a discussion between the audience and speakers: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Joe Madiath, Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, and Dr. Paul Farmer, about the deeply personal side of what challenges the life of a leader for social justice in the world.
The panel was a long overdue statement that even the most powerful social justice leaders are human too, and that, in fact, it is often a deep personal understanding of their own humanity that makes them so strong. The panel raised vitally important questions about sustaining oneself in the work of service to others, coping with the guilt of not spending enough time with family, learning from failure, and reflecting on ourselves and our actions.
Perhaps most poignant was when Archbishop Tutu,with his infectious smile and laugh, told a wonderful tale--his "only original story"--about an arrogant lightbulb who didn't realize his light was only able to shine because he was connected to a generator. An understanding of ourselves--our strengths, our limitations, and our connectedness to others--is of utmost importance when we seek to shine our light and to be of service in the world. All of us at Still Harbor are grateful to be part of what is a growing movement to position a person's interior formation as a necessary and wholly integrated element of life-long education, particularly for those involved (and we think everyone is) in service to others.
Skoll World Forum's website described the "interior landscape of leadership" aptly as "a dimension where character rules, love and belief trump strategy, and resilience, renewal and patience are life blood for the long haul." At Still Harbor, we know that it is through a dedicated cycle of reflection, discernment, and action that this interior landscape of leadership and the better known exterior elements of leadership are able to have a transformative social impact.
We encourage you to watch the full video of the panel discussion and to always keep in mind a few of Archbishop Tutu's closing words, "All of us want, quite desperately, for someone to say, 'this is worthwhile,' all of us." No person--incredible world leaders included--stands apart from those who surround, inspire, accompany, and support him or her.