Friday, September 08, 2006

Leadership Reflection: Servant Leadership (Molokai)

Possibly, there are two types of leadership in this world: a leader who has got the power after his/her sacrificing in serving humanity and a leader who has got the power by rebellion or enforcing others. These two manners of leadership have shaped both negative and positive aspects. Mahatma Gandhi has become a powerful and popular leader after his dedication to contest with the powerful English colony. His voice of non-violence and tolerance had widely spread out and the mass come to embrace him. His mission got success and he has become the idol of the humanitarian activists. Alexander the Great or Napoleon of French had become a hero and icon of humanity today because of their thirst for power. These two leaders were unavoidable using their force to grab the power; and did many good things and reformation for their country and also push our world moving forward to another brighter era later after that.

However, servant leadership is still my most impression because this option begins with peaceful movement and ends with peaceful result. It will have no revenge or bloodshed to be an activist as a servant leader. This characteristic of leadership starts from the bottom of our heart in committing to serve, to sacrifice, to share compassion and wisdom for the sake of humanity. It exists in individual’s heart and rarely to have such person in this world. Our present dynamic world acquires more and more the presence of servant leaders. Those are religious figures, social activists, reformers, pacifists and philanthropists etc. Now, I would like to take this opportunity to inspire you to take a glance at some past servant leadership and social movement of present time at Molokai isle.

Last few days we had a fabulous field trip to Molokai isle. Our purpose is to search more strength, capacity and comprehension about the people in the area as well as to enrich our leadership ability. The area comprises of fresh natural body lying in the landscape of rocks, mountains and beaches. Personally, I had surprising feeling and sense this new landing as my newest experience of my life. This is a site in such a small spot of the gigantic Pacific Ocean. The wind, dust, wave, birds, moonlight, stars, rocks, mountains, staffs and 42 distinguished cohorts have made this trip as the most inspirable classroom. I have observed some of the below aspects concerning servant leadership.

Firstly, hiking in the Pali Trailhead of either getting down or getting up offered me a sense of leadership challenges. Especially, we focus on servant leadership who uses their head and body to breakthrough all deficits and barriers. To service others is not easy like putting food into our own mouth. It requires our willingness, persistency, wisdom and understanding. Furthermore, to serve or to lead others is easier than to serve and lead ourselves. Hiking this high mountain contributed us a sense of serving and leading ourselves. We need both mind and body to step down and step up. Stepping down is easier than stepping up. I have to take break several times, and thought of using some strategies to reach my destination at the top of mountain. Primarily, I walked up very fast and made me so tired. I breathe fast and felt like falling down. So I started to walk up slower than, moderately, step by step and used mindful walking(walking meditation). I felt having new energy embedded in my body until I reached the goal finally.

Secondly, we explored the sample servant leadership of Father Damien at Kalaupapa National Heritage Park. It is extraordinary for the past of 1896. He left the legacy of good sample to our young generation. Though he is a religious man, but the task took him a more challenged than the concept of his Christian faith. It must come out from his own heart and willingness to devout himself to live with those 4,000 leprosy patients. He was not an effective physician, but he consoled those patients psychologically to have hope and value as human being. His humanitarian work intensified the commitment to service others. He finally got contact and died by leprosy symptoms. It is hard to find somebody who wills to sacrifice like Father Damien.

Thirdly, the struggle of local people who have called themselves as the native people or Hawaiian descendants. I heard and saw many movements among them. It is very admirable and memorable. I have shared many ideas and emotions with them. I felt sad and enjoy mixing together while listened to their memoirs, complaints, narratives, songs and invocations. I have never thought that my first impression was to see them at State Capitol protested with State of Hawaii; and I could anticipate them to their motherland of Molokai. This intensifies my curiosity to hear, share and feel comfortable to help them as much as possible I can. Their vision is simple. They created Hawaiian Learning Center comprising of fishing pond, weaving house, art displays, village lifestyles, Hawaiian games and dances etc. Their speech stresses on localizing development. It seems they are trying to walk reverse the huge stream of flowing water of globalization network. But it sounds good and inspirable for servant leadership. Those olds, youngs and kids have shared the same common sense of anti-development which can impact badly to their identity, nature, spiritual faith, language and ways of life. Even though, most of the time I felt despaired with their effort that compared like trying to kick the wind, but I am still proud and optimistic with their willingness, commitment and strong stance.

Fourthly, the activities of all participants and staffs reshaped many other aspects of my servant leadership orientation. The story-telling ensured the comprehension of individual’s traits and thought. It is more accurate to deal with many different styles of people, diversity and difficult individuality. Servant leadership has to be aware of individual’s traits and tendencies. Under the moonlight entertained by whispering speaking voice, humming wind, hitting waves and crying crickets embodied more meaning of future leadership capacity. The deep sense with such surrounding signifies the deep sense of servant leadership in sharing empathy and struggle. Significantly, the Hula and Slapping Dance which were performed lively by our colleagues is to inform our intention in sharing simple common sense with local people. Individually, our participants have uplifted the servant leadership ability with different manners and performances. Also, I enjoy skits perform by staffs and groups creatively. More than this, we all have participated in building local community-based development with them. Some helped to move rocks and stones to build the fishing pond dikes, to catch fish, to weave, to cut some pieces of wood and to clean the pavilion. We enjoyed with their local food and many, many socializing.

This is the moonlight of humanity, the wave of struggling, and the blowing wind of moving forward and changing. Our moving is not stuck by any obstacles or barriers because we are all aware of servant leadership. We sacrifice our time, wisdom and material. Our ideal is not for personal power or benefit, but for the sake of the welfare, stability, prosperity and peace of human beings.

Preah Bhikkhu Vodano Sophan S.
sophan @ hawaii.edu

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