A View On Leadership: From the bottom up and the top down
Many people dwell in the lowlands. They enjoy the picturesque view of the mountains from afar and live their lives below the storm where life is calm, stable, and often predictable. This is a place of wide roads, free of obstacles and challenges. Yet the ease of such a comfortable life, promising fulfillment, only delivers mediocrity mingled with a sense of disillusionment. The view from such a place is limited and the soul that yearns for more is dissatisfied.
Those who seek something more find themselves wandering away from the wide and easy path to take the road that narrows. The land inclines for the upward journey. The walk is not one of leisure. The surroundings, though rustic, bustle with life and provoke a sense of wonder and excitement about what may lie ahead. The path continues to narrow and becomes strewn with rocks that cause occasional stumbling. Unforeseen obstacles sometimes block the path. These elevated lands that boast of adventure also whisper of dangers and warn of enemies that lurk in shadows deep.
Some turn back, for fear of discovering the unknown, but those who choose courage in the midst of their fears persist to attain understanding. They develop strength and discernment as their eyes are enlightened through the experience of the journey. As they walk ever nearer to the mountain, a sense of isolation begins to set in. The narrow path ends. The mountain, no longer a distant object of tranquility, towers above the sojourner, now a terrifyingly beautiful sight. It is immovable. No longer is there a path to provide direction or areas of refuge to seek shelter. The journey upward is one in which the traveler is exposed. He knows that trials, testing, and various means of suffering await. It is at this point that many turn back. They can still return home safely, having accomplished enough to boast about, while still escaping with their lives fully intact. The peak is shrouded in mystery and is hidden behind foreboding clouds. Each man must choose for himself if he has the faith and courage to see the journey through.
The ascent up the mountain begins. Though a few have chosen to move onward, each man travels alone, for there is a portion of the journey so narrow, that only one can pass at a time. The most present danger during this aspect of the journey is internal. Repressed fears and doubts begin to rise up from within. The unconvinced and unfocused mind, if not harnessed, will panic. Yet a sense of excitement and desperation spurs the one forward.
Almost without warning, the traveler finds that he is in the middle of a fierce storm. It seems that life and death hangs in the balance, and to press onward and upward through the storm requires risk, strength, wisdom, and hope. His senses become disoriented, and his heart weak. The cloud, the winds, and the elements are so severe that his vision becomes temporarily obstructed. He feels as if failure and destruction wait to devour him at every turn. He pauses to close his eyes and wills himself to remember the vision that once before was so clear. He covers his ears to block out the threats of the howling winds and listens for the still, small, quiet voice of wisdom and encouragement. His trained and renewed mind guides his tired, but disciplined soul and body. Though the storm appears as if it is the only reality before him, he remembers that these harsh winds are not the substance he seeks but are only an obstruction that desires to intimidate and hinder.
He presses through without knowing when the end will be in sight and finds that in a sudden and unexpected moment of breakthrough, he has just risen above the storm. The sun shines, bringing warmth and comfort, guidance and direction. It renews his strength and hope. The top is near and is much more in reach than he would have believed just moments before in the storm. This portion of the journey is steep, but now he can see clearly and has much strength and wisdom to move upward with a grace-ease.
He reaches the top. He has conquered the mountain. He can see from this height things he has never seen before and can consider views that were before hidden from his understanding. The view of the storm from above is less intimidating than what it appeared to be from below. The storm, though it felt all-consuming, was in reality a rather short part of his journey.
He has overcome. He sees from this vantage point that the world is much larger than he had ever believed—and still the heavens far greater. He knows, almost innately, that mysteries are revealed in these peaks that touch heaven. He drinks fresh revelation and prepares for the journey back home. He knows he must tell his story. He desires for others to overcome and share in the victories of such heavenly heights. He climbs back down the mountain and shares his message with many. There are several who hear his story. There are some who are inspired by his words. There are a few who are compelled by his experience. And there is one who hungers to live it. And so the one leads the other to the path towards the heights. One overcomer becomes two. The two become four. And eventually the four become more.