This Autumn, Women in Sustainability have been exploring the future of leadership for sustainability and what this means for women.
Ahead of our next London Hub Network event on 25th October, hosted by Innocent Drinks, we asked Clare Russell, WDI Consulting and one of our panel of speakers, to share her thoughts here in a guest article.
Are you able to show up fiercely compassionate?
“Compassionate leadership is again coming to the fore in a world that deeply needs empathy, human connection and activism to be an integral part of how we lead versus a ‘bolt on’ or nice to have.
It’s my belief that ‘Compassionate Power’ is the most radical and effective power that we have to create a thriving present and future. However, we can disown this power, not believing its full strength, thinking it will make us weak or a ‘push over’.
We misrepresent compassion as either an ideal that is impossible to live up to, or a weakness that we can’t afford to inhabit. Yet, in truth, we don’t need to martyr ourselves to stay connected to our compassion. With courage and clarity we can live by it in our daily lives.
‘We make a huge error in trivialising and rendering sissy compassion’
If you are willing to open the door to that thought, my experience is that compassion is the fiercest, strongest, most unstoppable force for positive change and achieving your goals. It will supercharge your passion, dissolve the belief blocks and limitations that might have stopped you in the past and activate an inner resilience in you that is formidable.
However, to really embody compassionate leadership first means addressing some fairly strong influences that might encourage you to ‘tune out’ your compassion. For example, turning on the news can be depressing and overwhelming – a feeling of being a small pawn in a far bigger picture where mass pain, trauma and suffering are a daily occurrence. You might ask yourself, what can I possibly do about that? It can feel like nothing, and so the pragmatic choice is to cut off from your compassionate feeling muscle, to let it atrophy just a little so that you have the emotional, mental space to act with positive intent and hopefully make the world a better place as a result.
However in your desire to avoid ‘compassionate fatigue’ are you in fact also lessening your connection to your passion? Is it possible that overtime your sensitivity starts to backfire on you, that along the way of turning down the volume on the hard bits of life, the tone, richness and high notes of your joy and zest for life are also less easy to hear?
When I became a mother, choosing to desensitise simply became a no-go option; both because I wanted to taste all the sweetness of life as a new mama and because I’m now more committed that ever to creating a future where my daughter can thrive.
This has led me to research, and inquire more deeply, into compassion and I’ve come to believe that fierce, (or empowered) compassion is a peak state of human consciousness, that has the capacity to step change our lives and world for the better. It’s based on an integration of emotional intelligence and values empowered action that is already successfully disrupting places in governmental and organisational decisions making where short term thinking is overruling the intelligence of our collective humanity”.
To read Clare’s full article, ‘3 lessons in how to be fierce and compassionate’ follow the link to her website here