Seven spaces

Almost 2,500 years ago Confucius wrote a text known as The Great Learning. In it he talks about what it takes to be a leader. The central theme is that a great leader must understand themselves first before attempting to lead. There are seven meditative spaces that the leader must pass through. Confucius-9254926-2-402

  1. Awareness
  2. Stopping
  3. Calmness
  4. Stillness
  5. Peace
  6. True thinking
  7. Attainment

The theory being that you pass from chaotic to ordered thought. The time and reflection help you develop good judgement as a leader.

I’m exploring how useful it can be in the work I do. I can already see applications around resilience and I’m wondering which parts to utilise in a course I’m designing for Railway Maintenance Managers.

This model also has a lot of resonance for me in respect of mental health. Almost a year and a half ago I became aware that something was wrong for me. I’ve have spent much of the intervening time trying to stop and calm my mind. It proved impossible to do without medication. I took the tough decision to submit to first one, then another additional medication to bring the calmness. Unfortunately pharmacology can be an inexact branch of science and I’ve not had as much relief as hoped.

Today I met with my psychiatrist to discuss my progress, my entry in to therapy and what support I need going forward. We talked back and forth about where I was. He listened to my fears about doing therapy without a clear mind and about the very difficult transition on to the 2nd medication earlier this year. As we talked I realised it was the calmest discussion I have had with this man, the most rational I have felt whilst at the Community Mental Health Team. I actually started to feel the stillness I will need to get the most from therapy. He obviously agreed in that he has taken me off my initial medication.

As you can imagine, this is a huge step and will need to be monitored very carefully. I’m certainly not at peace and even stillness remains a stretch – however, the psychiatrist saw or heard something in me that convinced him we could reduce my reliance on medication.

In the words of Confucius “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. Right now, I’ve risen to number 3, “calmness” – where are you at in your leadership journey?


About Jon Bartlett

I'm a coach, blogging on things that occur to me, that I want to share and any other fun stuff I find lying around in the real world.
This entry was posted in Leadership, Mental Health and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Seven spaces

  1. Meg Peppin says:

    John, your writing just keeps hitting the mark, provoking real reflection.

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