Lonely at the Top?

July 17, 2020 Open Leadership No Comments

One is not lonely by being alone, but by losing oneself.

You may have already heard the expression in the title, or even experienced it yourself. Of course, one does not have to be at the top to be lonely. Loneliness occurs in all walks of life. One can therefore also reverse the expression. The loneliness is always present. It just becomes more visible at the top. Being surrounded by people ‘on an equal level’, hides the loneliness. One is holding each other up… in underlying solitude. However, if one stands ‘alone’, as a pariah for example or as a leader, there is no one to help you with this. In that case, one is on his own. It is as if one is standing on the top of a mountain, with an open panorama that stretches out in front of him. Loneliness is not the result of this, on the contrary! But we will see that in a moment.

A tip for leadership: be realistic and lead yourself. Neither loneliness nor happiness automatically come with reaching the top. Such ideas may slow you down.

Another reason why loneliness becomes apparent at the top is the loss of an overpowering target. It is a general phenomenon that people who are working their way up tend to ‘forget themselves.’ One strives for happiness – whatever this means – as if it were all there for the taking. By striving, one does not notice the emptiness that one is loading, as if it were Bogeyman’s bag. Due to poor attention in the other direction, this emptiness is becoming ever bigger. Once one is at the top, there is nothing to take. It was an illusion. At the same time, the bag is falling from one’s own shoulder, open on the ground. Painful.

A different loneliness

Let’s say you’re a mountaineer. You’ve conquered a mountain. You’re at the top. You have ‘fought’, but it was not an aggressive fight against the mountain, nor against other mountaineers or against yourself (hopefully). You enjoy the result. You enjoy the view. You feel ‘mighty like the mountain itself.’ You look around and you feel ‘spacious like the environment itself.’ A vague sense of loneliness may be present, but it is a sweet and good feeling. It feels like being close to your core. It feels like solitude and at the same time the opposite of it.

That brings us to another aspect of loneliness, namely the positive one. Loneliness doesn’t necessarily involve negative feelings. It may also create a sense of freedom, even better: it may create the feeling of an almost total freedom, where one just has to take the final step toward total freedom. Accepting this setting deep within may give you a special feeling. Maybe you recognize this in yourself, one way or another? This feeling may be described as ‘leadership.’ In principle it is a positive feeling, although it should not be considered as an easy one. Sometimes you can see this on a picture, for example, in the eyes of real leaders (although others sometimes fake this feeling). So this is a completely different facet of ‘solitude.’ It’s not the result of leadership; it simply ís leadership. A leader is someone who carries this within. He has the ability to carry this within. Many of us would run away from it. This means that many people would fight this feeling. A number of vicious circle movements later, this feeling has become a negative feeling of loneliness. At the same time, however, the original feeling continues to attract. Of course. It’s a fundamental human feeling. What’s more, it is the deepest humanity itself. In other words, it’s you yourself. Being lonely in a negative way is losing ‘oneself’ and suffering from it. That makes it feel like a burnout or a depression, or it may even progress into such. At the same time, ‘being oneself’ is the biggest pull factor that exists. Which also becomes clear when one discusses the phenomenon of ‘motivation.’ This too plays a big role in the ‘magic of leadership.’ It’s even the intention of leadership

A tip for leadership: think of a feeling of ‘loneliness’ as something that is positive by default, unless you make something negative out of it. In fact, it is a hallmark of great leadership.

Independent

Practically speaking, this means that a leader can go against a strong current. He ‘endures the loneliness’ of it. That makes him independent. It’s not that he doesn’t take the opinions of others into account. On the contrary. It’s just the very thing that makes a leader independent to also do that. He is the one who can make a synthesis of everyone’s opinions, in the greatest objectivity. because he does not cling blindly to some opinion that is especially comfortable for him, whether or not this opinion was in principle his own. On his way to ‘the top’, the leader-to-be will come repeatedly in situations where he has to choose to make such a synthesis. One can interpret this as a test, time and again. Whoever passes the test will move on. Others may move up the chain of command as well, but they do it as a boss, not as a leader. There is a need for leaders, bosses are already over-represented.

A tip for leadership: an independent leader takes everyone’s meaning into account and at the same time he does not cling to anything out of an urge for comfort.

What you can do

Look into your eyes occasionally, in the mirror or on a photo. Try to look for a sense of loneliness, both in a negative and positive sense, as described in this text. Be honest and also very friendly to yourself.

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