Heavy weighs the crown. Few people understand the weight and responsibility involved with being in charge of a group or an organization. Moreover, it is quite lonely at the top because few people have the perspective of being the one who is in charge of everything. It can be quite a daunting and slightly disorienting experience because you don’t know who to trust. And ultimately, you cannot trust anyone because you are the one who holds ultimate responsibility.
You can try rely on the advice of other people who may have held your position, but the circumstances may have changed. You can try to rely on someone outside the group entirely, but they often don’t understand the players involved and the issues at hand. In the end, the only person you can trust is yourself. And that is not easy for many of us…no matter how long we have to prepare for the role.
The words of King Fredrick X of Denmark, who took over the throne of the oldest monarchy in Europe with a scant 2 weeks notice when his mother Queen Margarethe II abdicated, provide some helpful insights. In a speech to the Danish people, he said,
I’m going to live in the moment, to understand destiny and I’m going to listen to the silence to find a way.King Fredrick X of Denmark
Live in the Moment
This moment is all we have. The past is just a memory and the future is just a series of hopes and expectations. Ultimately, any decisions you make have to be based on the conditions you are currently in — even if those conditions include anxiety or ambiguity about the decisions. Obviously, making decisions based on what you think future conditions may be involves a high degree risk…and disappointment. However, if you are aware of your uncertainty abut the future or your ignorance of the current situation, it is easier to perhaps delay the decision and/or seek more information. Ultimately, however, recognizing your limitations in the present moment will help you to avoid disappointment later, and encourage greater diligence next time.
This moment may be all we have, but this moment inevitably has consequences. Those consequences can radiate out in all directions like pebble in a pond, and they can wash ashore in some unexpected places and with unexpected consequence. While we ultimately cannot control the outcome or effects of our actions, we do have control over our intentions. We can make decisions based on compassion for others; with the intention to do the most good for the most people. For the success of the organization as a whole instead of the interest of a few individuals. If the decision or action does not have results that we wanted, at least our intentions were in the right place.
Listen to the Silence
Just because it is lonely at the top doesn’t mean that it is silent. Indeed, we may be getting all kinds of advice from all directions and all kinds of people. One of the loudest voices we hear from is our own ego. It’s the voice that can be fearful of making a mistake, where we look bad. And it is the voice that equates the “right choice” with the one that will give us the most praise in return. The key is to avoid getting turned around by our ego and centering ourselves and your decisions in our heart. To literally listen to our hearts — what ultimately “feels” right in our heart — instead of listening to our head that may tell us otherwise.
With these few words of wisdom, the crown can weigh a little lighter.