evolutionary leadership: embracing your outer work to do your inner work

“when we embrace our outer work, we get lots of opportunities to do our inner work.” — gibrán rivera, evolutionary leadership 2017

it has been increasingly clear to me that this is true. as in, i’ve experienced its trueness, which is different than hearing and knowing it in my head.

what does that look like? well, first a few definitions.

outer work, in my experience, is the work that’s at the intersection of the world’s great need and one’s great passion. it’s the work that you were “born” to do. now, that’s an oversimplification to be sure, but i think the thrust of the statement is right. i think it could be more accurately (and wordily) described as: work that your core personality traits accentuate but that you’ve gained skills and experience in doing over time that also serves the needs (physical, emotional, experiential, social, psychological, economic, etc.) of others.

inner work, in my experience, is the work of becoming more human. as maureen says, it’s the work of aligning your actions with your values—authenticity. it is the process of identifying where you say you believe one thing, do another, and then work over time to close the gap between those things. most religions have something like this as the goal (though they take many different flavors and roads to get there): heaven, nirvana, transcendence, paradise, mukti/moksha, etc. (sidenote: i’m more of a “heaven is a place on earth” kinda guy these days.)

so, as one finds resonance in the world with one’s outer work (the things people tell you repeatedly that you’re good at and ask you to do – correcting for systemic oppression, of course), the more chances you have to reconcile with yourself and do your inner work. there’s nothing like doing something you’re good at to surface the distance between your values and your actions (oh, hey, ego).

anyway, enough for now!

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