My partner, Neil Sicherman and I work with executives and leadership teams using the Enneagram as a map to help them move towards their potential. When we work with the Heart Triad; Types Two, Three and Four, the teaching is primarily about love. I have been spending a lot of time trying to understand what real love is so that I can teach that clearly to others.
Teaching about love is challenging for me because I have a Type Two personality. For me, love has mostly been effusive and gushy and sentimental. I always thought of love as a verb. Unconsciously, believed love was a transaction. It’s hard to admit, but it’s true. I did for others, helped others, loved others as a means to win their approval. I would do as much as possible to win their love. When I didn’t get it, I would feel devastated. Crushed was a word I commonly used to describe how I felt. I would put my heart in front of me. When others didn’t respond as I hoped I felt like my heart fell out of my hands and was run over and smashed. That devastating feeling has repeated itself over and over again in my life, until recently. As I have gained knowledge and understanding of what I believe real love is, I do less for others with ulterior motives and love more deeply in spite of what happens ‘out there.’
I am showing up with others as the real me more and more. Perhaps it’s because I am 57 and am beginning to think ‘if not now, when?’ Cindy died three years ago. Another sister of mine that I adore beyond words, Mary, has been diagnosed with Lymphatic Lymphoma. My parents are in their upper 80’s.
I know life is terminal. It ends, and if I don’t chose to live my life I’m wasting it.
My partner, Neil loves the song ‘Life’s For The Living’ by Passenger. The refrain is;
‘Don’t you cry for the lost,
smile for the living.
Get what you need and give what you’re given.
Life’s for the living, so live it,
or you’re better off dead.’
So what does all of this have to do with Cindy Love, or The Alexander Technique, or Leadership ? I will try to connect the dots.
Cindy never tried to get anything. She had no ulterior motives. She was transparent and true. She lived available, open and authentic every moment of every day. I manage to do that in moments. She did it every single moment of her life. She lived her life. She got what she needed and gave what she was given. She gave herself, without ever wanting anything back. Giving her love to someone was never a transaction. Ever. She gave what and who she was and she expected nothing in return.
I am learning to do that too.
As teachers and guides we have to be very careful to keep the lines of giving clear. Very clear. Teaching, in its purest sense is not a transaction. It is about love. Getting what we need so that when we are working with someone we give what we’re given.
Do I deeply care about others and teach with compassion? Yes. Do I think I am kind and have clear motives when I am working with someone? Yes. And, I struggle to know what is right and to live with integrity. Perhaps that is why I teach what I teach, to learn these things once and for all. Richard Bach said in his beautiful book ‘Illusions’, ‘We teach that which we most need to learn.’
I need to learn to love myself first, gently and compassionately. I need to hold my heart in my own hands and treat it with dignity and honor. That isn’t someone else’s job, it’s mine. And it’s yours. It’s your job to hold your self with loving kindness. It is not someone else’s job to do that. The transaction we need to always have is with ourselves. We need to open the door to our own heart and go deep into those dark places that are locked away in shame and fear and shed a light on them. Like Neil says, ‘we need to come out of the closet and show up as who we really are.’ Fully human. Fully real. Fully us. If we don’t, we miss the opportunity to truly assist others on their paths. Our humanness may give someone else the courage to reveal who they are. That is what leadership is about, showing up as real and inspiring others to do the same.
Cindy was a leader. She taught from the essence of her being what it means to love. She knew how to love and care for herself, and because of that she was able to love others. Nothing got in the way of that. Ever.
Though I ‘helped’ her a lot through life, she was the one who gave the most through being who she was without any need to get anything back.
She was my greatest teacher.
She was my sister.
She was Cindy Love.