Friends, I’ve been thinking about an idea that David Whyte wrote about. He titled it “The Economy of Presence.” And he told the story in his book about this old sheepdog, Cymro in the Welsh countryside, and this dog, older of the bunch with limp, had a blind eye. He talked about how one ear’s flopped over, one ear that’s up is raised and black. And he had this what he titled as “The Economy of Presence,” that he could stand… He could do the job with the lightest touch, he writes. He knew the pivotal places to stand. And he told the story about how the young sheepdogs would run up and back, lots of noise, lots of activity, lots of energy expended, in order to get the sheep to move where they wanted them to go.
Contrast that with the older, wiser, somewhat haggard, Cymro, through his economy of presence, knowing the pivotal places to stand, said he could do it with the lightest touch, the pivotal places to do the job with the lightest touch. So he could lean, he could move ahead, he could tilt, he could stand in the right place at the right time in the right way and have the same or better result. And the sheep would respond. And they would go through this crack or segment in the wall where they could punch through.
I’ve been thinking about this for ourselves as leaders, as the wholehearted leaders, what would it look like for us to perform the job with the lightest touch, to know where are the pivotal places to stand? Not everywhere, not up and back, not scurrying and hurrying but to be in the right place, at the right time, and in the right way. I can admit for myself I don’t yet know. I don’t know where all those places are but I know that every new practice, every new integration starts in the moment of asking the question, in this now moment with this team that I’m spending time with, with this conversation, with this project, with this deliverable. Where is there an opportunity for the lightest touch, a lesser touch, and an economy of presence? You could do this, friends.
Keep going. This is good for us.