Leadership in an Anxious Age

I learned a lot about leadership from coaching my children’s sport’s teams. Recognize these groups?

soccer youngerI’ll give you a hint, they gather regularly in streets, yards, and fields across the world. They can organize themselves or be in a community structured league. This crowd is a frenzied pair of five year old children’s soccer teams (to use the U.S. term for the game).
Perhaps you are familiar with beginners playing soccer and their tendency to swarm around the ball, chasing it around the field, merging into an active, passionate, emotional herd. If not, I hope you can imagine it for those herds show many of the characteristics that groups including families, congregations, and all forms of crowds can exhibit.
Here is another image. These two groups aren’t crowds at all. These are older, more experienced, more mature players who have a better understanding of the game, how it is played, and their personal roles on their teams. soccer mature

If you look at the two diagrams, you can see the difference between the five year olds in their herd and the mature players in their teams. The most obvious difference between the two is spacing. The more mature players understand that space between them is important. Space between players in soccer is as important as space between musical notes in a song. If there is no space between notes in music, there is no distinguishable rhythm, tempo, or song, only a long blurry noise. In the younger, less mature groups, there is a lot of rampant activity, a lot of bumping, and kicking, but little soccer actually happens because they have not yet learned the importance of roles and spacing required in order to function as a team. So, too, is it in your life. If you are going to live out your particular calling, your particular self, your particular identity, you need emotional, intellectual, and social space between your self and others. Without healthy spacing and clear boundaries distinguishing you from others, your music, your song, your life, your role will be smothered, absorbed, blended into the greater group, the crowd. In the fused team, everyone is chasing the ball, there are no roles, and likely the team with one superior athlete will win every game. In the mature team, the roles are clear, they are quick but don’t hurry, and stick to their plan.

 Besides spacing, another difference is in the fused team, everyone is chasing the ball, there are no roles, and likely the team with one superior athlete will win every game while in the mature team, the roles are clear, they are quick but don’t hurry, and stick to their plan.

 I was first exposed to these ideas of spacing and roles in relationships from families to churches and even nations through the work of Murray Bowen and Edwin Friedman. 

One of the most challenging books I’ve read on Leadership is Edwin Friedman’s, A Failure of Nerve – Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. In the following video and one of the clearest, briefest, illustrations of important concepts for leadership and relationships from the work of Murray Bowen and Edwin Friedman. Here, Dr. Jonathan Camp illustrates how to maintain your sense of “self” within a family or any other crowd especially in times of high anxiety.



For more info on how to preserve your soul while staying in close, connected relationships even in times of change and anxiety, I’ve put together this book I hope you’ll find helpful.Here is a link to Friedman’s book, A Failure of Nerve – Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix.

Out of The Crowd Book Description –

Out of the Crowd front  cover 21

There is a view of life, that where the crowd is, the truth is there also, and that the truth, in order to have merit, needs the crowd on its side. However, there is another view of life, which holds that wherever the crowd is, there is untruth… Soren Kierkegaard The common assumption from Sigmund Freud to Thomas Jefferson is that we are each born into the world as autonomous individuals. Contrary to popular belief, we are born into families, communities, histories, and cultures. We are so apart of these groups that to become a mature individual, claiming our place in the world, finding meaning in our lives, and our calling from God takes a lot of work and courage. We are not born as single souls but part of crowds as small as a family of three to as large as a global cultural crowd. Though referred to by other words like collective, system, herd, mass, mob, enmeshed system, fused emotional group, and the world. I’m used crowd as did the writers of The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as philosophers like Tactitus, Epicurus, and Kierkegaard, along with Sociologist Gustave LeBon, and Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. The purpose of the book is to help individuals come out of their crowds and into their calling, not just for the hope of each life, but for the sake of the world. Change on a large scale starts in a very small way. I call it the Rosa Parks Philosophy. When she chose to take a stand by keeping her seat, the world started to change. A great movement began with one person. Scott Peck referred to the power of the individual this way, The whole course of human history may depend on a change of heart in one solitary and even humble individual…. For it is in the solitary mind and soul of the individual that the battle between good and evil is waged and ultimately won or lost.

To see more from Out of The Crowd click on the book cover or this link: Out of The Crowd