There are no straight lines in leadership; each person's path is a continuous journey of twists and turns; it is a mystery constantly unfolding. As we set out on yet another journey into the unknown with ourselves, our team, our clients, and the work we do, the work of transformation, we look to lessons from the Labyrinth and the Greek God Theseus to inspire our spirits, fortify our beings and illuminate the way.
The labyrinth is defined as “a meandering path, often unicursal, with a single path leading to a centre.” The word means “something highly intricate or convoluted in character, composition, or construction.” (Rogador. C 2021 Labyrinth Symbol – History and meaning).
Such a colourful way to describe what can sometimes be our lived experience of leadership!
The history of the labyrinth can be traced back over 4000 years. According to Greek legend, the labyrinth was a highly complex maze designed and constructed by Daedalus as per the mandate of King Minos. The labyrinth's purpose was to imprison the minotaur, a terrifying creature with the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man, who ate humans to nourish itself.
According to legend, the labyrinth was so confusing that even Daedalus could barely get out of it. Every year, fourteen young Athenians were sent into the labyrinth as food for the minotaur. Theseus volunteered to go into the Labrinth and conquer the Minotaur; with the help of Ariadne and a ball of red thread, he was able to venture deep into the heart of the labyrinth, where he killed the Minotaur, successfully retraced his steps and navigated his way back out to freedom. Theseus became the king who managed to politically unify Attica under the aegis of Athens, where he ruled admirably for many years before his death.
As we begin down this next leg into the unknown of our leadership journeys, we find ourselves once again confronted and challenged with the reality of delivering on the needs, wants and dreams of our clients, guiding and supporting our team along the way and working through our own constant transformation experience. We take the four lessons of the labyrinth and Theseus, and we invite you to consider how they might uplift you wherever you are right now on the path of leadership.
1. Getting to the Heart of it
Who am I? This question is fundamental to life and to living and leading with clear intention. Our capacity to create a vision and understand what drives us, to decide on what action to take or not to take comes back to our clarity around who we are, what we stand for and our sense of purpose on this planet.
What is your purpose as you move forward, and what are you moving toward?
What do you need to do to get clear on your purpose and the vision you have?
2. Partners on the Adventure
It is through relationships that all things are possible. What are you doing to nurture the relationships that are important to your purpose and vision? What is the next level of realness and authenticity you need to go to with yourself and others to succeed?
Who are you at your most authentic in relationship with others?
What qualities serve you and get in your way in relationships?
Whom do you trust? Who has your back? Whom do you need to bring closer?
How do you more deeply engage in authentic relationships so that each person is elevated, experiencing more of themselves coming forward than ever before?
3. A Journey of Discovery
As you walk the labyrinth, you are following a pattern laid out before you. You are constantly presented with an opportunity to see a different perspective and a new direction at every turn. This path is best approached with an open mind, achieved by meandering along and focusing on the present moment, following the pattern as it unfolds.
What is the path you are following right now? Is it what you truly want to be following?
What do you need to notice or have not been noticing?
What practice do you have in place or need to create in your life that brings you into the present? Perhaps mindfulness mediation, exercise, prayer, connecting with nature, stillness or the simple act of noticing your breath?
The pattern also symbolises finding the solution to a problem and achieving understanding. What patterns are present in your life now, what meaning do you make of them, how do they serve you, and how do they not serve you?
4. Exploring the Metaphor
Some view the labyrinth as a metaphor for a journey of profound meaning, a spiritual journey. The entrance represents birth, the path along the way of our evolution from infant to adult. Finally, the centre symbolises the mastery of life, enlightenment, rebirth, or death; for some, it represents the divine. Getting to the centre requires a complex, often long and sometimes arduous journey of growth.
Consider your life right now; where are you at in the Labyrinth? What stage or phase are you in right now, and what is being called forward from within you?
What is the rebirth required for your organisation to succeed in this ever-changing, complex world we find ourselves in?
What does this mean for your leadership, for the vision you have for your organisation and its purpose on this planet? What is at the heart of the matter, what is the end game, and does it nourish your being, inspire you and bring meaning to your life?
This article has been co-authored by our consultants, Erika Yeates and Juliana Gilders-Seysan
Aspirall is a strategy consulting firm. Our consultants have worked with large corporates and consulting practices globally. We work to elevate strategic thinking and build conscious leadership so our clients use their wealth wisely, soulfully and joyfully with resolve, courage and integrity for the greater good of themselves and the world. We deliver successful, powerful outcomes and solve core business challenges for the greater good of all those you connect with and influence. Get in touch here