while i was away

before i went off on my journey, i felt a mixture of anxiety and fear and numbness as my primary condition. as blown away as i was, and am, by all the people i work with, my ego was still convinced that the work would suffer without me.

because if i don’t bring something utterly unique to the work, do i have value?
because if they could do it without me, then why didn’t i take this break sooner?
because who am i without my titles?

it’s equal parts silly and shameful to acknowledge that state of mind, but it’s true.

and on the course of the journey, i mostly let it go. i reached a place of realizing that i am valuable just because i exist, just because i was born, because i breath. i am just as valuable as any other living being.

and the people i work with are truly amazing, and whatever work they did was the work that needed to be done.

still – i came back to my inbox with a sense of trepidation – how would this new sense of value for myself and others play out in the thousands of messages i received?

the exciting news is that my ego was just that, ego.

i just finished my email aikido process of five months of email. it took two full days of reading and deleting messages and lots of yoga and social media breaks. and not only did i not see crises – i saw work that was inspiring, conversations happening that needed to happen, love notes and forward motion. my humility is intact, my wonder and curiosity are restored, and my respect is deepened.

i have long thought, and said, that if a leader can’t step back, then that’s a sign that the organization is not sustainable, the vision is not collective, that the power is not shared in the ways it needs to be if we are practicing the path of evolved leadership. its one thing to know that, and another to actually try it.

now, i highly recommend sabbaticals, or other forms of stepping back, simply because it makes you more whole. but i also recommend it because it’s humbling in the best way, because no one person should take up so much space in a piece of work that their absence makes the work fail.

while i was away, everything got stronger, and better, in ways that don’t take anything from my sense of my own value and contribution. i finished email aikido with a sense of celebration and love and release.

they say if you truly love something let it go – if it’s meant to be it will fly back to you, something like that. i’m considering: if you truly love the work, but you are burnt-out? let it go. what you have built and seeded and dreamed will be a home you can return to, familiar and brand new, and ready for the whole you!

“true journey is return” – ursula le guin, through the anarchist leader odo in the dispossessed.

yes, yes it is.