Leadership

From a talk by Tim Jackins at a leaders’ day before an open workshop, in Pune, India, in March 2012

Leadership in RC is different from leadership anywhere else. I think we understand what it means to lead. Others are stuck in trying to coerce people, trying to make them do things. The essence of leading is to get others’ minds with you, not get them doing things against what they think. It is listening to people well enough that you understand their thinking, and counseling people (and yourself) well enough that they follow your thinking and not their restimulations. That’s the battle all of us have—telling1 the difference between our restimulations and our best thinking. In the rest of the world, the difference between restimulated feelings and best thinking is not understood, so people act on both.

Most leadership in the world forces people to do things against their interests, for the benefit of some ruling party or ruling class. Leadership is carried out for the material benefit of those relatively few people. (It doesn’t benefit them in a human sense, but it brings them more material resources.) In RC we’re trying to lead for the benefit of everyone. We’re trying to figure out what lets us move ahead together rather than having an individual get ahead. The way I think of it is if we want things better for ourselves, we have to figure out how to make them better for all of us instead of trying to escape difficulties and make them better just for us.

We are all confused about leadership and restimulated by it because we have been mistreated by leaders and misled about what leadership is. In many places no one wants to be the leader. It’s just too restimulating. No one wants to be in a position to have other people restimulated about him or her. You know that happens. If you lead a little bit, people’s distresses about leadership attach to you: “I feel bad, and it’s your fault.” There’s no understanding, or even a memory, that they have felt bad that way for years and years before they met you. They feel bad now, and it’s your fault. And of course, it’s not. It comes from distresses in the past, some of them connected with leadership, and you happen to be the leader. It’s an accident really. It isn’t about you or your leadership. You may have difficulties, but their being upset is something else.

In some Communities it’s hard to get people to lead at all until they have a lot of Co-Counseling sessions about leadership. People need to start having sessions on their distresses about leadership soon after they get into RC. As they work on these distresses, they begin to understand their feelings instead of naively believing them, feeling like they have to act on them, or simply going away. It is in people’s interest to discharge on leadership, because if they don’t, then they can’t use leadership. They get confused about it. They can’t use you, your knowledge, and your support. They can’t use the opportunity you give them.

If they work on their confusions, they can see you more clearly and remember that you are thinking about them, even when you ask them to do things that are hard for them because of their distresses. You can be a good permissive counselor and help people work on things they bring up and ask for help with, but some of their distresses require more than that. They require your active encouragement in contradicting them. If people are confused about leadership, they can’t use your push. They can’t remember why you’re pushing.“You’re pushing me. It must be wrong. It must be wrong for me.” It’s not. In the places where we can’t think, where our distresses are heavy, we can use someone pushing us, because we can’t push ourselves. But it’s confusing unless we can trust the person.

Sometimes people will trust you because they had a good session with you, and that’s enough. But sometimes it’s not, or you didn’t get to have that session. So you want people to be able to clear the path themselves by discharging about leadership. To help them do that, you, too, have to discharge about leadership. You have to counsel on all the bad leaders you’ve had, all the people who’ve forced you to do things—parents, teachers, and others. The distresses left by them will attach to your Co-Counseling leaders and confuse you about them. They will confuse you about me. No matter how well I do things, I still restimulate some people. They feel like I am pushing them in a way that is not good for them or is too hard.

The relationship we have with each other in RC is one of equals. Everybody is a Co-Counselor. Everybody continues having sessions and growing together. People who lead take on2 special activities, but that doesn’t make them different. As many of you have said, leading makes you move faster through your material3; you make progress more quickly. But all of us are making progress as best we can. Leading just gives a person a little speed. It doesn’t change our basic relationship.

Another aspect of leadership is the relationships among leaders. It’s important not to lead in isolation. We tend to do that because we can do it and because we know how things should be done. If often feels harder to have someone help us than to do it ourselves. We face certain distresses when we don’t just do it alone, or order someone else to do it. We can lead by relating to each other and agreeing on the work. Maybe one of us leads and the other agrees to follow, but that’s an agreement we make; it’s not automatic. We may agree to do it for a moment, a day, or a month, but it’s an agreement we make about our relationship: “I will follow your judgment on this.”

It’s confusing to be following people who we think are making mistakes. We need to have sessions on where we think they are wrong, and then try to help them have sessions on the place where we think they aren’t thinking. And we need to do that not by being critical of them, but by asking the right questions and getting their mind to think about it with support.

We need to build relationships among us as leaders in which we can do that. We want to be more and more open about ourselves and our thinking. We don’t want to hide our thinking from each other. (“I don’t like what you said, but I’ll keep quiet about it.”) If we don’t like someone’s thinking, we can have a session on it. If we still think there’s a problem, then we need to be able to share our thinking with that person and see that both of us counsel on whatever it is that doesn’t let us agree.

In RC we think that there is no inherent conflict between people; that everything that looks like a conflict comes out of distress; that if we can share our thinking and our information, and counsel on the distresses, we can come to any degree of agreement that we’re willing to work for. It may take a lot of sessions, but we think this is true. Everything we’ve done supports this.

Leading a group is not about whose idea wins or who has the best ideas but what is the best idea. We want all the minds involved. Every mind thinks a little differently, sees things a little differently, because it’s had a different life, it knows different things. What we’re doing is not so dangerous that we have to have precisely the right idea the first time, every time. We have enough support, enough safety, enough understanding, that we can try different ideas and see if they work. Sometimes we need to try ideas we think are wrong, we need to support the ideas being tried.

We learn how to lead by taking initiative, by taking responsibility for a group, and by learning how to support other leaders. Someone needs to be the person responsible. In a class it’s the teacher; in an Area4 it’s the Area Reference Person; in a Region5 it’s the Regional Reference Person; in the world, it’s me. That’s the way we’ve set things up so that a decision can be made when it needs to be made.

All of the leaders need the thinking and support of everyone around them. They need the other minds engaged, not quietly following. Everyone needs to be part of the whole process and support the leader. Then the leader gets to decide what the group will try next, using everyone’s ideas.

We may think the decision is wrong, but it’s important that we try it anyway. We can’t prove something is wrong by not trying it. That doesn’t prove anything. We also can’t prove something is wrong by not trying very hard. The way we prove something is wrong is by trying hard to make it work. Then it will show if it’s wrong. If everyone tries hard to make it work, and it doesn’t—well, then it was a mistake. That’s good proof. We can’t blame anyone. We all tried to make it work, and it didn’t; we need to think again. That’s the way we would like to be able to make decisions: all of us thinking, a decision being made, all of us supporting it, and then testing it by putting it into practice. We don’t know beforehand if we’re right. We know we’re right if it works. That’s our test—looking at reality.


1 Telling means perceiving.
2 Take on means undertake.
3 Material means distress.
4 An Area is a local RC Community.
5 A Region is a subdivision of the International RC Community, usually consisting of several Areas (local RC Communities).


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07