It seems entirely natural to compartmentalise our lives. It helps us avoid internal interrogation, repress what is uncomfortable and promote the more pleasing parts of ourselves. So called “celebrity leaders” often rely on image management, hashtag stories and the pretence or fiction that they are in control.
In this season of daily revelations on “partygate” and ever more desperate attempts by our prime minister to redirect the judgmental gaze of both parliament and people, the answer to the question posed in my last blog entry has become crystal clear.
Will Boris choose wise leadership over political expediency? Yesterday, Rory Stewart, one time candidate for leader of the Tory party, put it this way: “Boris has a unique relationship with the truth. He says what ever he thinks will help most in the moment”.
This leads to just the sort of compartmentalising Chris Mabey refers to above in the third chapter of “Leadership Matters”. One afternoon in parliament, Boris announces the new lockdown measures. That evening he breaks them. A word we often hear in connection with partygate is “integrity” - usually a lack of it. Integrity is about oneness, togetherness, connecting up the compartments, if you like.
Chris notes that we divide ourselves from ourselves, from each other, from the rest of nature and from the present. He appeals to us to listen to the signals from our bodies as well as those from our minds. We have all experienced the knot in the stomach, but the physical sensations Chris notes are usually more subtle and demand more nuanced attention. Too often we miss the signs, we lose the moment, we pass up the opportunity to make a difference.
Among the answers Chris offers to the question posed in the title above are “being prepared to be misunderstood”, “being vulnerable” and pursuing an other-centred ethic”. Now that Boris has shown himself unwilling - and perhaps incapable through years of practice - to put wise leadership above political expediency, such choices are now bearing down on those around him in whose hands his fate now depends.