An Antidote for Suffering Leadership – The Sequel

In my last post, I shared the inspiration and perspective I had received from reading Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning while I was in a period of suffering.

Frankl gave me comfort. Then, when I shared both the suffering and the comfort, so many of you offered me further comfort, solidarity, and inspiration. I pulled these gifts from you out of the blog “comments” and the personal email messages – some, from the oldest of friends and others from readers who were new pen pals.

Chris Willig was and is both – pen pal and old friend. Back in the 70s, Chris, a dear (and sometime girl-) friend and I crafted and posted old-fashioned letters. At times, we wrote more than weekly, and we checked our respective mailboxes daily. Early on, one of us closed a letter with a quote, and soon the trading of inspiring or enlightening epigraphs became a desert to the main dish. We were “leading by two,” personal thought leaders to each other. I hope that in some small way she’s a better CEO at Illuminate Education – as a result of those pearls of wisdom. I’m certainly a better person – for her and them.

Fragments of a handful of the quotes Chris sent me were lodged in my brain for four and a  half decades, but their author and/or full version were stubbornly hidden out of full reach. As I read the responses to my blog on Man’s Search for Meaning, one of those fragments temptingly rose again to the surface of my consciousness. I had Google-searched it before to no avail, but I tried again today.

Bless you, Google, I found it! And it’s better than I remember. In tribute to Viktor Frankl, Christine Willig and the Bard himself, I share this pearl about Leading by Two:

“When we our betters see bearing our woes,

We scarcely think our miseries our foes.

Who alone suffers, suffers most i’ th’ mind,

Leaving free things and happy shows behind.

But then the mind much sufferance doth o’erskip

When grief hath mates and bearing fellowship.

How light and portable my pain seems now

When that which makes me bend makes the king bow.”*

Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 3, Scene 6

In the suffering that comes with life and leadership, may we see “our betters” and be comforted and inspired to

Lead with our best self.

 (a simple “translation” can be found here

  • You seem like a person who might have kept all those letters. An edited version of those letters would make an interesting book. Decades is a long time for humans.

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