It’s human nature to seek comfort from difficulty. It’s what we learned to do as children. We needed comfort to keep the courage to face a scary world, so we found safety in people, in habits, in places, and in items like stuffed animals, blankets, and clothing.
Even now picking up and considering these objects brings us a sense of peace and comfort. Even though that comfort may be an illusion.
Sex is like this for many of us. We go back to moments of early love, of discovering our bodies, of losing ourselves in pleasure and passion. But sex also comes with something else. Our early insecurities, fears, and very possibly pain, shame, and trauma.
Leadership also brings up feelings of power and comfort for many people. It can give this illusion of control, a sense of dominance, and the comfort of rightness. But it also pokes at our deepest insecurities and doubts about our own abilities.
The deepest practice in life is not to hide or close in the face of fear and pain, but to remain open and soft as it flows through us. This is perhaps the hardest to do during sex, or when your heart is breaking, or when some old fear or pain shows up.
In these moments it’s natural to close. It’s a natural response to pain to move away and in many cases it’s the wisest course, but if we get stuck in this retreat, this movement away from the pain and challenge, before long we find ourselves pinned into a corner.
The deepest practice is to find a way to open, or to gesture towards opening. Not to close in anger. Or retreat into a meditative cocoon. Or a set of beliefs that shields us from the world.
As we deepen our shields and weapons become more sophisticated and our only barometer is our openness. Can we be soft? Can we be relaxed? Even in passion, even in pain.
This is the way of a leader with a wide heart and open mind.