Addressing my leadership philosophy is equivalent to keeping hold of a slippery bar of soap. It requires mindfulness and a gentle finesse. That is, my leadership philosophy today is still vague, yet my humble and methodical nature makes this an inquiry worth pursuing. I discovered that what works for me one day, may not work the next. The diversity of people and variety of materials with which I engage creatively require attentive nurturing and a drive to harness the wild urges of expression.
Capturing moments and emotions to teach others how to experience bliss has become the motivation behind my leadership philosophy. I believe my niche is cultivating creative potential in others. Therefore, my leadership philosophy is adaptable to foster the cultivation of creative potential with higher purpose through conscious community involvement; my leadership philosophy is to cultivate conscious creative potential in myself and others.
I engage with people publicly, but perhaps mysteriously and from a distance. I display my emotions with conscious creative intention, relating my experiences and history of social activism. My artwork is an opportunity for me to bring my issues of social injustice to the table – topics often difficult to discuss or witness – topics such as sexual violence, oppression and any environmental damage. This approach is received with empathy or controversy, but exists as an opportunity to experience existence differently. I would say my art interacts with people acting as a means of altering perceptions in place of my physical absence.
I believe that I did not make history, rather history made me. I am the product of epochs of creative evolution, therefore it is my responsibility to further inspire creative power through every potential I can apply myself toward. More simply, as a leader I am a performer who likes to make people question what they think they know.
My efforts are largely centered around consciousness and understanding how the intention behind art influences people spiritually, biologically, neurologically, aesthetically, and personally. I experiment with various mediums such as paint, advertisements, and found objects to explore the relationship I have with myself and how it reflects my relationship with my community. My intention as a leader is to have a positive and nurturing influence on others through the shared experience of creative expression.
I feel that it is my responsibility as an artist to integrate various, personal subject matter into bites someone can sensually “chew.” It is important for me to create in order to be heard, seen and acknowledged for my individuality while seeking a sense of justice for my personal experiences. “The motive behind your self-expression is just that – self-expression. It is not about trying to get people to change,” (Campbell, 2001). My philosophy as a leader is to be an artist, express myself, and be a role model for others to also consciously express themselves.
It is my goal to focus on conscious creative expression for healing and evolving myself for my community. I believe that changing me will have a more positive impact on others than telling people they need to change. Their propensity to change must be a decision of their own. Real change must originate internally; otherwise contempt and superficiality are born.
It has been my experience that presenting people with new ideas challenges their beliefs and perceptions. However, the consequences are often ambiguous and dependent upon subjective interpretation. Some people respond negatively and others positively, but either way a dialog is opened. Placing me in this vulnerable state with directed intention helps to satisfy my impulsive urges by relieving my suppressed energy, keeping me focused. Confusion comes from a lack of dialog, or feedback, from another person. Cultivating creative potential is generating communication that challenges beliefs and perceptions, therefor expanding what we think we know. But before communicating with another, I must first learn to communicate with myself.
Someone cannot lead a community without first leading themselves. Deep down I feel I understand what is best for me, for my healing, and for my personal development. “By staying silent, he stayed in control. He never had to risk being disagreed with, criticized or ignored,” (Campbell, 2001). Meditation and time alone has provided me the time and space to unleash uninhibited creative expression. I can express myself without worry of judgment, but my art does not help the community if I keep it entirely to myself. For me, I have found relief and opportunity for positive self-development by not staying silent. I take initiatives for myself and stand up to adversity and express my injustices. Even in the face of criticism, embracing the lack of control or predictability of an outcome allows for new potential to unfold.
This has continuously added to my creative potential by giving me a better understanding of the human condition. It feels more honest, though it can often be an uncomfortable interaction. It is important to be mindful of cooperation because emotional situations can spin into a critical confrontation and spin out of control. Being honest with myself allows me to be honest with others, but this means admitting flaws and changing when an opportunity exists for my growth. The necessity of being able to handle change and ambiguity is an aspect of my philosophy that has led to the creation and destruction of interpersonal relationships, yet this unpredictable life has helped me cultivate my own creative potential.
Admitting flaws in traditional rules can be risky for interpersonal relationships. In studying leadership it seems that some of the most effective and influential leaders are those who break the rules to untangle the status quo. They are individuals who took new creative risks in problem solving for the good of not only themselves, but more importantly for their community. Their means of change are often unpredictable and innovative. They take risks. I have an inherent urge to act against unjust rules, breaking the confines of tradition and exploring the potential of human experience. I do this through explorations of self via my creative process. The creative potential of my art work is enhanced because this diversity of behavior translates to experiencing the world from many viewpoints by assimilating an integral approach.
I tend to lean toward change, adventure, and meeting diverse people. However, I do see how this can be a challenge to my leadership philosophy as I have a difficult time staying in the same place for a long time when gathering information. As Robert Axelrod points out in The Evolution of Cooperation,
“Therefore, if the other player is not likely to be seen again, defecting right away is better than being nice. This fact has unfortunate implications for groups who are known to move from one place to another. An anthropologist finds that a Gypsy approaches a non-Gypsy expecting trouble, and a non-Gypsy approaches a Gypsy suspiciously, expecting double-dealing,” (1984).
Building trust becomes difficult when personal interactions are limited. It seems fit to say that I identify with a counterculture that networks diverse groups to build larger communities. Taking risks and being authentic in brief interactions creates an opportunity to challenge perceptions by risking authentic expression and being emotionally vulnerable. I can introduce people to opportunities, becoming a catalyst for relationships that benefit and enhance the potential of both people and myself. It is a matter of extending potential by putting people outside of their comfort zones.
It’s not that I entirely identify with Axelrod’s Gypsy, but I understand my past approach to cultivating relationships was not conducive to effectively leading others. I come from a history rife with trauma and distrust, so I can relate in the sense that being a catalyst for people to be conscious and aware of their potential creates a discord between others and me. It seems cultivating creative potential can be uncomfortable. My unconventional approach to expressing and healing through art can make me a person difficult to relate to, which is not necessarily in line with my philosophy as a leader.
I want to be easy to relate to and engaging. But I am a lone ranger, a wanderer, or in sense, a Gypsy. At least, it seems an appropriate classification for creative types like me. “So influences that are in the local vicinity have more effect; the influences farther away are far less effective,” (Goswami, 2011). It is my philosophy as leader to be present. As an artist, my ideas and concepts can be gathered from my work so that I can still influence people without my physical body actually being there. The stronger my intention, the greater the influence can potentially be. So long as I can be present while engaging with others, I can be an effective leader.
My philosophy requires that my intentions be authentic with an artistic voice that creates beauty from every moment. “Real communication focuses on your sensations, feelings, and observations, bringing you into the present moment. This kind of communication allows for something real, unplanned, and potentially surprising and creative to occur between you and another person,” (Campbell, 2001). To me, this means value exists in mindfully releasing emotional impulses. There is value in making people uncomfortable with my presence, but it doesn’t mean that life is easy.
I would agree that the consequences from behaving in this manner are indeed surprising, though often the surprise reveals a false expectation. Whatever the outcome, my perception is ultimately shifted and a new way of seeing helps my art to continually evolve. The other person is also presented with an opportunity to increase the potential of their perception by being open to novel concepts with the intention of challenging behavior. This will further expand my influence if my art can continuously have a positive influence on my community.
Cultivating Creative Potential
As a creative person, I have the habit of becoming lost in my fantasies and ideals. I prefer imagining the ways I think the world can be. I am often consumed by my passions and discovering new ways to share them. “Our passions fuel us, and enlightened leaders seek to achieve their full potential,” (Figliuolo, 2011). I cannot achieve my full potential in creative expression if I am silent and isolated from community. The constant shifting in my perception allows me to better foresee potential outcomes; in turn, enhancing the intention that goes into my work. As a leader, it is my philosophy to integrate as much diversity in order to cultivate the most potential out of creative behavior. Continuously learning and pushing myself to my limits strengthens me spiritually, emotionally and physically.
In the moment, this allows me to see further potential for human interaction, ultimately entertaining myself with experience of diverse groups of people while also creating an opportunity to intentionally share how my experiences affect my philosophy as a leader. “Experiencing what is and expressing the feelings that arise help you stay connected to yourself, to the other person, to reality, and therefore to this larger energetic principle,” (Campbell, 2001). By challenging my own perceptions to discover new potential, I can show others how to also enhance their potential. As a leader, it is important for me to approach people mindfully, calmly and with a sense of being grounded. That way I can focus on the person and not myself while maintaining authentic interaction.
Integrating diverse approaches often leads me to explore metaphysical studies or spirituality relating to higher purpose in order to find positive sources of inspiration. Recognizing the potential influence the artist has within society from this level drives me to pursue ethical social activism to restore justice and a sense of collective consciousness. Art has been a means of overcoming trials and tribulations associated with traumatic events and other life changes.
“By recognizing and identifying evil, we neutralize its power, which is based on concealment and masking… The only thing that can stop state-endorsed torture and murder is to expose it to the eyes of the world: to document and call attention to it, as the work of the Amnesty International Organization has repeatedly demonstrated,” (Metzner, 122).
The healing process behind art is the liberation of evils by objectifying emotional experiences which the artist detaches from and the viewer connects to. When it is identified in creative expression, communication transcends ordinary interactions allowing for potential to unfold.
Creative expression provides an acceptable vehicle for communicating authentic experiences and provides a source of social relating and learning. This type of art work can be uncomfortable to experience, yet creates the opportunity for social change by uncovering injustice. Art has the power to influence positive social change, and as a leader this creates the opportunity to reach out to the community.
The possibility exists that developing creativity comes with the sudden risk of self-discovery. It is my leadership philosophy to approach my community as an enlightened person who has shined light on even my darkest corners, but sometimes what I find can be quite terrifying and hard to admit. I want to expose my personal injustices and inspire conscious awareness of injustices everywhere, but this also means taking responsibility for my intentions. A good leader can accept fault and claim responsibility for shortcomings. But this level of self-awareness requires the strength to accept these flaws as reminders that I can always be real without depressing people; I want my personal story to be uplifting.
Dark Night of the Soul and a Bright Star in the Sky
In order to cultivate my own creative potential, I have to dive into my emotional depths and climb to my brightest heights. I must be able to express both darkness and light to find hidden truths within myself. Exploring the range of my emotions enhances my creative potential. But it is within my philosophy to not label darkness as something bad. Rather the shadow offers an opportunity for illumination, or growth. “Thus, in some ways, the notion of something unacceptable, and therefore hidden, is perhaps more appropriate than the symbol of the shadow (something dark),” (Metzner, 1998). Referring to our shadows and unconscious qualities as “evil” denies the self and other that opportunity for growth.
The stigma of evil, dark and bad do a disservice to the collective unconscious and power of creative expression. We limit potential by punishing the expression of our negative qualities. We blind ourselves into seeing nothing but what we call goodness and light, denying that darkness exists, therefore doing nothing to evolve our conscious awareness. Or vise-versa, those who accept only darkness refuse to look at the light.
Not only does consciousness suffer, but when my right to creatively express myself is denied, my physical body also suffers. “In the body this process (of negation and denial) is a stoppage, a blocking of the flow of life energy,” (Metzner, 124). It has been my history to self-destruct when I swept my expressions of this suffering beneath a metaphorical rug, denied by those around me for being myself, negating my feelings of existing. The reciprocal effect of a projected denial leads to a false sense of reality or identity in relationships that is based on lies, deceit, unconsciousness or the desire to avoid responsibility of shadow impulses for fear of rejection by others for not being a pocketful of positive (fucking) sunshine all the time.
Awareness of the dynamics of leading one’s self among others leads me to the understanding that not conforming to societal expectations of roles creates a ripe opportunity to explore how the self differs from the other. By expressing authentically rather than denying the existence of negative emotions, it has been my experience that more opportunities for healing and growth have occurred because I have been honest with myself and put my wellbeing above others. The opportunity to adhere to one’s own value system is not compromised for the sake of fitting-in with a group. It has been my experience that this sort of behavior often leads other members of the group to ostracize and reject any person not willing to participate in group activities.
This is the essence of leading ourselves among others – lending our efforts and services to the perceived good of the group without having to be recognized as a part of that group. It is the ability to make decisions and remain autonomous so that your own needs are being met, that you are being the best you can be, with the conscious awareness that your efforts, independence, skills and uniqueness are contributing to the betterment of humanity as a whole.
“When you identify yourself primarily as your ego identity and remain unaware of your own very powerful energetic presence, you tend to believe that pain is bad. That’s just another prejudice of the mind – that pain is to be avoided at all costs. To evolve into your capacity to experience what is, you’ll need to be prepared to accept and welcome what’s real – even if it’s painful. Resisting the experience of pain can make it hurt worse.” (Campbell, 2001)
Cultivating creative potential comes from recognizing our positives and negatives. It is recognizing the self as human with a human family, without the judgments, discrimination, or bias that occurs when identifying a group against another. It requires integrating and reconciling opposing forces. “So positive experiences can be subject to misinterpretation just like negative ones can,” (Campbell, 2001). What I mean is one can stand as an individual as well as represent communities. One does not need to be the center of attention or popular to be a good leader. Being a good leader, to me, is someone who can stand in the face of adversity (darkness) as well as its counterpart, acceptance (light). It is someone who can express themselves consciously with the intention of bettering themselves and their community constantly, as a way of life.
My journey toward defining my leadership philosophy here has been a humbling experience that is only just the start of my understanding of what it means to be a good leader. I venture out on a limb to express myself, to pour my heart out to the world with high hopes of being caught in the vessel of some person out there with the empathy to understand my motive for displaying bare my body as if to say I am here with nothing to hide. “More often than not the truth of a situation doesn’t conform to our ideas about how things should be,” (Campbell, 2001). The way things should be, the way things are expected to be, and the way things actually are become left open for anyone to decipher and interpret.
I am vulnerable but willing to experiment with human psychology, hesitantly accepting responsibility for consequences, but trying to see the best in every situation. I expect, in my mind, the resistance my work faces reveals the projected insecurities of the viewer, and the support I receive will reveal a person’s capacity for conscious awareness (so long as my own conscious awareness is more developed; perhaps someone would not like my work because of my ignorance). Any misunderstanding is an opportunity for me to learn. My reaction I give to those who witness my art reveals a lot about my own inner workings. It is important to me to show up authentically and be seen as someone who can remain in control of herself and is trustworthy to others.
It has been my philosophy that I know I know nothing. Just when I think I have it all figured out, the Universe delivers something unexpected. “The most authentic response to a situation arises from a place of spaciousness, of silence, of not knowing… Silence is your connection to the Source, the place from which new creation springs forth,” (Campbell, 2001). Not knowing makes one more receptive to other potentials, thus not limiting what we think we know about something or someone.
Life seems rather ambiguous from a creative perspective. “Because you know intuitively that creative discoveries do not involve step-by-step continuity; instead, they are products of discontinuous insight,” (Goswami, 2011). You cannot make a masterpiece happen. It requires being at the right place at the right time with a capacity for experiencing new opportunities. It is seemingly spontaneous, requiring the right catalyzing factors and consciousness, mindfulness, the ability to assimilate new information quickly.
But it also requires the focus, discipline and practice of creative expression, of art. I have to stay open to new perspectives and accept them as truths from another angle. By claiming to “know,” I limit the potential I see in something. One must consciously set an intention toward developing creative potential and understand that it is a life-long process of learning and that no ideal state can ever be reached. Cultivating creative potential means continuously evolving human expression and always learning.
Campbell, Susan. Getting Real. New World Library. 2001
Figliuolo, Mike. One Piece of Paper. Josey-Bass. 2011.
Goswami, Amit. How Quantum Activism Can Save Civilization. Hampton Roads Publishing Company. 2011.
Metzner, Ralph. The Unfolding Self. Origin Press, 1998.