Life in 2018 can be stressful. We can all agree on that, right?
Watching the news is stressful. Going on the Internet and engaging with social media is stressful.
Earlier this year I was reading an article about the 10th anniversary of the credit crunch and I found myself wistfully reminiscing about a simpler time when all we had to worry about was the potential collapse of all world banks and a future of queuing up for a lunchtime sandwich with a wheelbarrow full of worthless currency.
The temptation at times like this can be to disengage. Modern technology offers us infinite spaces to go and calm our jangled nerves. Some of us are retreating ever further inside carefully curated digital echo chambers of our own opinions.
Others are checking out entirely.
The desire to withdraw
A big part of my work involves encouraging people to develop healthy habits and prioritise self-care, and an increasing number of my clients are saying that they feel a need to take a step back from the world – delete their Twitter, delete their Facebook, stop watching the news.
And I get it. Pausing and finding a peaceful space to reconnect with yourself is vitally important in a world that can be overwhelming at times. And there is a real risk that in taking that step back we end up becoming isolated and disconnected.
But, like I say, I get it. However in retreating, we are only following the example of our current leaders. Political leadership over the past few years has lurched towards isolationism in its policy making. And while these figures – Trump, Erdogan, the so-called ‘Brexiteers’ – inspire fierce devotion from some, they have alienated many more.
And yet, there is a new generation pointing the way ahead – a courageous few who have realised that what the world needs is not more ‘leaders’: what we need right now are warriors.
Warriorship: a new paradigm of leadership
Warriorship is about stepping up to the challenges that we face as a planet; it’s about embracing the paradoxes of life in the digital age; it’s about disconnecting from the ego and truly being in service of something bigger than the all-consuming self; it’s about going beyond mere words and actually taking action to create the world that you want to see.
Warriors don’t necessarily choose to be so – usually they find themselves called on by the world.
Teenagers leading the way
Look at the example set by the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Florida. These are children. Still too young to vote, to get served in a bar. Yet they responded to unspeakable tragedy by stepping forward into warriorship. A small group of teenagers have created the most powerful grass-roots gun reform movement in US history.
Only four days after seeing their classmates slaughtered they announced ‘March For Our Lives’, a proposed student-led demonstration to lobby for tighter gun-control laws. Just over a month later an estimated 2 million people turned out all across the United States for one of the largest mass protests in the country’s history.
In the course of organising this movement, some of the kids have become well known, even appearing on the cover of Time Magazine. But they practice collective leadership, with no one individual claiming ownership. They operate as a system, always aware that they are acting in service of something far greater than themselves.
Interestingly, as social-medial natives, these warriors have demonstrated how modern technology can indeed be used to connect, create, and inspire collective action. “People always say, ‘Get off your phones,’ but social media is our weapon,” said Jaclyn Corin when she and her friends were interviewed by Time. “Without it, the movement wouldn’t have spread this fast.”
Of course, they are not immune to the shadow-side of social media. In the course of creating their movement, the Parkland survivors have been subjected to relentless abuse, death threats, and even been accused of being ‘crisis actors’. Yet in the face of this provocation they have remained dignified and focused.
Resilient, ego-less and focused
They show us that true warriors are resilient. They show us that true warriors are driven by their sense of purpose to loose themselves from the shackles of ego. They show us that true warriors are willing to step up and engage with the world even when it is hard and painful. Especially when it is hard and painful.
These kids are an example to us all, but they are not alone. Wade through the bad news, the bluster, and the misinformation and you will find warrior stories everywhere. The world seems to be awakening to the idea that what was once understood to be ‘leadership’ has had it’s day, and that warriorship is what is needed to guide us into the next phase of this planet’s evolution.
Warriorship means action
Warriors are the people who are going to change the world, on the biggest stage and the most intimate. Warriorship is an attitude, a way of being. Expressing it does not require you to immediately go out and start a mass social movement. But it does mean taking action rather than just talking about it. It does mean swapping good intentions for great deeds. It does mean moving your focus from ‘Me’ to ‘Us’ – from ‘I’ to ‘We’.
In any moment you can behave like a warrior. You can do it now, this instant. Go on. Do it now.