At the upcoming Young Global Leaders Annual Summit at the World Economic Forum for East Asia in Myanmar (Burma), I, along with two of my colleagues, Shoukei Matsumoto and Thura Ko, will be running an Impact Journey on Spirituality and Mindful Leadership for our fellow YGLs.
I was first inspired to propose a workshop on this after feeling disappointed that the majority of discussion on this topic at Davos tended to focus most on what I consider to be the politics of religion, rather than the power of spirituality. After one particular panel discussion, I posed to the audience the question of what it would mean if global leaders with a commitment to spiritual thinking were to share their experiences of bringing healing to their communities. After all, what else is the purpose of religion and spirituality if not to bring healing?
In the article, Aung San Suu Kyi articulates the need for there to be a ‘revolution of the spirit’ if we are to overcome the challenges of leading in today’s world.
In my own life, spiritual vision has been fundamental to my leadership journey. Like many others, I take the approach of ‘servant leadership’, that I feel compelled to do what I do [in my case, using arts for social change] as part of a bigger vision of healing for the world. I have come to learn, through the trials and tribulations of my own experiences and observing the experiences of others, that what defines a leader is not so much the particularities of what he or she does, and the successes and failures, achievements and mistakes they encounter along the way, so much as their individual commitment to continue to strive for this higher vision of humanity, irrespective of the material circumstances and ‘crucibles’ they face. Aung San Suu Kyi, as we know, is an exemplary model for such leadership.
The schedule for our Impact Journey will take us to the Myanmar Institute of Theology, Schwedagon Pagoda and the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy and will encompass an opportunity for meditation and reflection on the following two key questions:
1) How have you used spirituality in your leadership? What universal ‘principles’, that transcend any one individual faith, have enabled you to bring healing to your communities?
2) What ‘value’ do spiritual and religious institutions hold in society today? And how can we ‘measure’ that value?
We are also aiming to weave in the concept of feminine leadership to the discussion, in light of Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership, and the imperative that exists to bring gender issues into the discussion.
In anticipation of a fruitful and inspiring Impact Journey, and in a spirit of inquiry to prepare us for the experience, I invite you all – friends, family, fellow YGLs and colleagues – to leave your comments and thoughts on these two central questions. We’d love to hear your stories of how you have used spirituality in your own leadership journey and to further the discussion of what value spiritual and religious institutions have in society today. Please leave your comments below and we look forward to the continued sharing of these ideas.