Be the Wave
Back in the Greek mythology days, people believed that when Poseidon was angry or fierce, the ocean’s waves would rage; and when he was feeling more mellow or happy, you’d see that reflected in the water’s smooth surface. Across the span of time, the power of the ocean has been the stuff of myths, legends, and metaphors.
And so it continues.
I had the most marvelous, inspiring conversation yesterday with Lynn Honeysett, the Executive Director of the Pelham Art Center, in the little town where I live outside of NYC. In the past, Lynn had participated in a prestigious leadership program and is now at the helm of our local arts icon, and had some thoughts on leadership that I found really thought provoking. During our conversation, Lynn said, “You can look at leadership as delegation, or control. But that’s not what it is. I’ve found it to be like generating a wave. There’s energy in a wave, but it has a life of it’s own. It goes on without you. It goes on, and it rolls, and gathers forces, and gathers people, and energy, and then goes and does its thing elsewhere.”
I loved that imagery!
So I went to learn more about waves (because I clearly hadn’t held on to any wave-knowledge I may have obtained in school…) and found that when we see a wave, while it appears that the water is moving forward, only a small amount of water is actually moving. Instead, it’s the wave’s energy that is moving, and since the water is a flexible medium for energy transfer, it looks like the water itself is moving.
And maybe, as Lynn so beautifully articulated, that’s the way it is for leadership as well. Perhaps our job as leaders is to simply be that energy that generates something bigger.
That rolls on.
And gathers force.
And gathers people.
I decided, after my brief sojourn into wave-research, that I wanted to be a “rogue wave”. Rogue waves are waves that seem to form from nothing, or from something very small, and yet grow to sizes large enough to capsize giant ships.
Now capsizing ships isn’t my idea of fun, but in leadership like in life, we can be a force for good or not so good. I choose good. To be a large force for good.
At the end of our conversation I asked Lynn, an extraordinarily passionate advocate for the arts (who has found the perfect job for herself), what she’d like her legacy to be: “Excitement for the arts. Generating excitement for the arts.”
“Like a wave!” I chirped back.
“Yes! The wave!”
And the two of us smiled. We two rogue waves.
©OnStage Leadership, 2013
Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. If you found this helpful, interesting, thought-provoking, or inspiring please “recommend”, “Like” and share. It is only through your generosity that we can reach those who may find it valuable too.