The view companies have on skills like courage, entrepreneurship and leadership are often ambivalent. It frequently happens that companies’ statements nurturing such skills are not followed by consistent and congruent management actions.By all appearances, creativity, dynamism and proactivity are attributed great value, but in actual fact they are opposed because deemed to contradict the need for control, focus and the optimization of efforts.
I believe that such a contradiction arises, among other reasons, from a low individual and organizational ability to foster the “desiring energy” characterizing every human being. One need only consider the sensation created by Google’s “20% time” policy and the contradictions and controversy it has recently generated.
The desiring energy is at the basis of every generative action, it directs and expresses an extraordinary energy. Such an energy needs to be fostered and directed or it will incur the risk of exhausting itself. We are little used to desiring. Desiring takes a lot of effort because it gets us in contact with our most vital and visceral part. Therefore, we need to be educated to desire so that this energy might be useful and gratifying for both, the companies and individuals.
This ability to desire is directly connected to leadership skills and it is typical of several entrepreneurs and leaders. Desiring means feeling empowered to do something. Managing our own desire, therefore, means managing our own power.
It is not just chance that history is filled with people that, once suddenly achieved a position of power, didn’t prove capable of managing their new possibilities with composure and clarity of mind, to the point that they destroyed others and themselves.
So, how can our desiring part be managed?
Desires are very different from needs. Desires are flying carpets: they fluctuate in our sky and can take us long ways. However, we need to be careful not to weight them down by confusing them with our needs. Consumerism is based on treating our desires as if they were needs. Desires, then, become irrevocable, they get heavy and don’t fly anymore. On the contrary, being capable of desiring means being aware that a given desire may never come true but that it is valuable in itself, irrespectively of what will happen to it.
The more, the better: fall in love with all and none at the same time. Desires color our sky: he who is able to desire does not realize all his dreams, he is rather someone who generates many desires, who does not give up in face of frustration. His sky is crowded with myriads of flying carpets. From time to time, he may get on one and travel a long way, but he can also get off when necessary or even jump on a different one. The value of a desire cannot be measured by its future impact but it rather depends on the pleasure we feel while we experience it. Being capable of desiring helps us being focused on the present, on the “here and now” and it distances us from the constant blackmail of “tactical” expectations (I am doing this so that I’ll be gaining that…).
oes too much desiring generate frustration? It’s actually the other way round! Frustration does not arise from investing in our desires too much, it rather arises from bad investments (I treat my desires as if they were needs, as something necessary or irrevocable) or from investing too little (I have such a few of them that if they don’t get realized I feel bad). Have a look at this interview to Maradona when he was just a boy: he only had two dreams, playing soccer and winning the world cup. His problem is not having been disappointed but rather having realized both of his desires in 1986, when he was only 26. “And now, what? – El Pibe de Oro must have thought – what shall I do now?
Desire on your own, realize with others. Our most powerful desires connect us with others, foster our generativity and encourage us to meet what is different from us. Desires have a seed within them that can only bloom if it is carried “out” in the world, creating positive alliances with others. This makes them a source of connection, sharing, inspiration and leadership. Desires are a synthesis of egoism (my own desire, my own goals) and altruism (the generative project that exceeds and outlives the individual). Hence, every flying carpet is not ours alone. We imagine it, we can use it but we didn’t actually create it. Sharing it with someone, makes it more powerful because the same carpet is flying simultaneously in multiple skies, all we have to do is look up.
Desires are delicate and need to be protected but without any useless overtreatment. Desires should be treated in the same way the Little Prince used to take care of his rose: protected under a glass bell. The protection offered by the glass bell is important in the beginning because they are delicate and fragile. Judgements, fears, doubts are like cold wind that can kill them. After a while, the glass bell needs to be removed and the rose planted in the ground. We need to have the strength to detach from it, not to be jealous and to accept that others can take care of it too. Roses might as well not root and, therefore, dry out or die. Just like children in the splendid poem by Kahlil Gibran, desires are nothing more than arrows, shot with commitment, dedication, love and hope, at the best of our possibilities. We can’t (what luck!) control everything.