The greatest leaders of our world, those that have left their mark on history in transformative ways, understood the deep link between their leadership calling and their humility in seeing themselves as servants to something much greater than themselves. Aung San Suu Kyi, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela….these are the leaders we most admire and who have brought about true, lasting change in the world. But whilst we talk about the results of their work, rarely do we talk about the process of inner growth that they needed to achieve their vision.
In my own leadership journey, spirituality has been foundational. I was raised as a Christian Scientist and my upbringing in Asia and continuing travels around the world gave me a deep interest in, and appreciation for, the spiritual principles found in all religions.
When I arrived in China as a young woman, I had a vision to share my passion for theatre with migrant women. I spoke no Chinese, had few resources and absolutely no experience in running an enterprise. It was my spiritual beliefs alone that helped to shape and guide the setting up, and eventual success, of Hua Dan, a social enterprise that uses theatre to empower migrant women and children.
Love not fear
As a little girl, I had a powerful insight into the fact that we are all, essentially, either living from a place of love – or fear. It seemed to me that it was fear that lead to a contracted view of the world and to the challenges that we see all around us – war, poverty, starvation, terrorism, conflict, disease, totalitarianism and political oppression. I determined that love really was the only answer to this and that my own personal journey should be a commitment to turn my fear around into love.
I believe that love should be the only foundation for leadership.