Peri Chickering is the author of the new book Leadership Flow: The Unstoppable Power of Connection. She is a coach, consultant, herbalist, and leadership educator. She lives in Hancock, New Hampshire.
Q: What inspired you to write Leadership Flow, and how would you describe "leadership flow?"
A: Like many things, the initial inspiration seems to be one thing and then as the process unfolds other layers of inspiration appear.
A couple of the early seeds behind writing the book were the fact I found it hard if not impossible to find leadership books that talked about leadership from the “inside out” and connected the health of our planet and spirituality with the attributes it takes to be effective.
When I was an associate professor at Regis University it was very hard to find good resources to use in my leadership classes.
Another reason was the constant question from clients “where can I read more about this?” when I would coach and teach the more internal dynamics of leadership.
There was also a persistent inner voice that kept saying “It is time.” And thank god it was persistent because I would never have finished the book without this inner voice urging me to keep going!
Leadership flow as a title and guiding image is about an invitation to live with a deep and abiding experience of connection to the wisdom and rhythms which drive the very fabric of our universe – we are a part of this wisdom and it lives in us as it does in everything around us.
The more aware you become of this relationship the more directly your living can flow with it and from it.
And it is my belief that each person has a leadership gift to contribute to the unfolding whole and this gift naturally flows out into the world when we are connected to these underlying rhythms.
Q: You write, "My journey in the land of leadership has been long and varied." Can you say more about that?
A: What a lovely question. When I wrote this sentence, I believe I was seeking to convey the idea that although I have had many different kinds of professional endeavors – from mountaineer, to wilderness guide, professor, executive director and leadership coach/consultant – there has always been a “leadership thread” woven into all these jobs.
And I have wondered and thought deeply and often about the issues of power, confidence, impact, empowerment, and enduring contribution.
How do these ways of being actually work? What makes for real impact? How would you even know? Who is really leading when following and drawing out the wisdom and insights from others is a powerful component of being effective in a formal leadership role? How do you teach “leadership” if you define it more as a set of behaviors or a way of being rather than a formal role or outer position?
I have lots of questions which keep me curious about what it means to make a meaningful contribution to the world.
Q: How would you advise people to maintain connection during these difficult times?
A: Every person is so uniquely wired that it is really hard to say exactly how to best maintain an experience of deep and personal connection to the larger order of things.
For me, and for many of my friends, here are a few common practices: unplugging from all things electronic for periods of time; being deliberate to give yourself space for silence and solitude; staying close to earth – whether this means your hands in the dirt, regular time with animals, plants, rocks, trees, etc.; living in places where you can see the stars and lie under the night sky; and getting yourself into water – oceans, lakes, rivers, streams, hot springs, and even “frozen water” as in out for a good long ski or snowshoe.
And when you find yourself in moments of genuine sadness or despair, be sure you have a good friend or two who can offer you a quiet listening ear and be your steady support as you will most certainly find yourself being for others in their times of need.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
A: Given all the stress and unfolding “issues” across the globe at this point, perhaps my biggest hopes for readers are to deepen their sense of being connected.
Connected to their own personal story and the fact that they are bringing value all the time in what may seem to be very simple ways. And connected to others, to a vast web of intelligence, and to the unfolding story of the planet itself.
I truly hope that readers come away with a sense that they are not alone and that they have support and it comes to them in all kinds of both seen and unseen ways.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I am working on a very short “book trailer” and I will most likely also produce an audio book of Leadership Flow.
Otherwise, I am letting myself go “empty” in terms of any new projects. I have gotten very good at letting go to the space “in between” and simply enjoying my rural lifestyle here in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire where I do a lot of “stacking wood and hauling horse manure” – along with long walks and quiet cups of tea.
If a new inspiration begins to percolate, I will listen and see where it leads me.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Not that I can think of in these moments. Thank you for inviting me to share some thoughts with your readers.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb