Journey Called Metanoia: An Antenarrative of a Leader’s PersonJourney Called
Metanoia: An Antenarrative of a Leader’s Personal Journal By Kevin Grantal Journal
By Kevin Grant
The purpose of this journal article is to introduce the concept of antenarrative (Boje, 2000) to help leaders understand their personal spiritual journey called metanoia. A discussion in this journal article compares and contrasts story versus antenarrative, which is used to bring about personal meaning and inspiration to the leader’s life. The journal article analyzes and interprets Puls (1983) narrative of David’s personal journal in Psalms 25 titled ―A journey called metanoia‖. The paper defines 1) metanoia, 2) dark night of the soul, and 3) liminality to better understand David’s emotionally charged journey. The outcome from the paper identifies seven themes of a changed behavior by the leader who moves through an eight stage model that describes the metanoia process. A final summary explains the connection to management practices, where leaders use story to unveil a person’s destination, helping them develop a higher sense of calling.
Keywords: Metanoia, Liminality, Antenarrative, Story, Living Narrative, Dark Night of the Soul
The purpose of this journal article is to introduce the concept of antenarratives (Boje, 2000) so leaders understand what is meant by a personal spiritual journey called metanoia. A metanoia journey by a leader is usually described as deep personal transformation. An example of a leader, who had an experience of a metanoia, is found in the Biblical text of Psalms 25. Pul (1983) offers an antenarrative of David’s metanoia journey titled ―A journey called metanoia.
David’s story is a reflection of a transcendent experience, where he connects with a high power that shapes his thinking and behavior. The retelling of David’s story is labeled a living narrative because it unfolds a story of an individual’s experience to bring about new meaning and inspiration. Insightfulness from David’s metanoia journey in Psalms 25 benefits leaders who want to make a ―shift of mind‖ and find new meaning and purpose in their personal life. This emotionally charged story of David’s experience can also be called the ―dark night of the soul‖ where an individual discovers deep personal transformation.
People become angry, sad, or frightened, not as a result of what occurred but because of their interpretation of what just happened. When these emotions are made automatically this moves the person from any type of analytical thinking (Seymour, 1994). According to Seymour (1994), ―as individuals experience emotionally charged moments in their everyday life, they invariably produce a preconscious interpretation of events‖ (p. 711). In Psalms 25, David expresses his own emotion called fear, which triggered a metanoia journey, and generated an intentional change in his behavior. The final outcome from this experience, for David, is gaining a new understanding of companionship and personal security.
In summary, from time to time individuals go through periods of sadness, trials, loss, frustration, or failure that is disturbing and long lasting. After one has these episodes the individual begins to tell their story to others. When the story is told, it is usually emotionally charged where the person describes a deep moment of transformation that changes the way they feel and think. The discussion in this paper uses storytelling and antenarraitives to understand David’s journey and how his behavior changed as a leader. The next section defines story and antenarrative.
Story and Antenarrative
Since 2001 academic researcher David Boje has developed the concept of antenarrative. Boje’s book, Narrative methods for organizations and communication research, London, Sage, was introduced in 2001. Antenarrative is defined as ―non-linear, incoherent, collective, unplotted, and pre-narrative speculation, a bet, a proper retrospective narrative with Beginning, Middle, and End (BME) can be constituted‖ (Boje, 2001: 1). In 2002, he also developed the theory in a keynote address to the Discourse Conference in a paper delivered on Enron antenarratives, which became the basis for a co-authored article in Organization Studies Journal (Boje, Rosile, Durant, & Luhman, 2004). As of this writing Boje is in the process of publishing an Antenarrative handbook.
Boje (1991a) describes ―a story as an oral or written performance involving two or more people interpreting past or anticipated experience‖ (p. 111). People do not just tell stories to tell stories; they tell stories to enact an account of themselves and their community (Browning, 1991). Telling a story of your own experience can be a catharsis, or a way one can cleanse and purify (Moore, 2004, p. 58). ―Aristotle understood that drama and fiction can clear out a cluttered and confused soul‖ (p. 58).
Moore (2004) offers a clear understanding of storytelling: ―The repeated telling of a story gradually allows the pieces of life experience to find their relation to each other. A story of what you are going through gives your experience form, places it outside yourself for consideration by yourself and others, and gives the aesthetic pleasure that a good story offers. Whether it is an artful story or a simple report on a life experience, a good story requires a certain clarity that comes from honesty and the willingness to forego excuses, caveats, and explanations‖ (p. 58).
It should be noted that it is no accident that the Bible is probably the most influential Western book of all time. The Bible teaches through parables and stories and not through philosophical discourse (Seymour, 1994, p. 713). We view these narratives as appealing to the experiential system because they are emotionally engaging and similar to real life experiences (Bruner, 1986). In the remaining discussion of this article, retelling David’s story becomes a ―living narrative,‖ although David is now dead and cannot retell the story in his own words. Interpreting David’s story throughout the article breathes new life and spirit to the narrative.
From the interpretation comes a sense of wisdom and clarity that brings new meaning to a person’s life challenges.
Agar (2005) states a living narrative has to earn its tellability. Tellability is linked to the question; is it news (p. 29)? ―Tellable means inspired by an event that departs from expectations, ranging from something astonishing and incomprehensible to something that was a mild surprise‖ (p.29). Boje (2008) states, ―living story is a networking in the unfolding present, where each story is dialogically relational to another one, and must be told to tell of another social relationship, another context. Living stories are often without beginning, and are never ending (unlike narrative)‖ (p. 3).
Boje (2000) compares and contrasts story and narrative in his brief discussion of ―antenarratives‖:
“From Boje’s (2008) research on antenarratives, David’s story would be described as a cycle antenarrative. A cycle antenarrative can be thought of in terms of cycles like seasons, life, or event cycles. When David states, ―You ask me again that I take up the journey, that is metanoia (line 4 & 5) he is referring to an event that is reoccurring or a cycle. What follows is Pul’s (1983) paraphrase of David’s story about David’s continual journeys called metanoia or David’s dark night of the soul experience.A narrative is something that is narrated, i.e. story. Story is an account of incidents or events, but narrative comes after and adds, plot and coherence to the story line. Story is therefore ante to story and narrative is post-story. Story is an ante state of affairs existing previously to narrative; it is in advance of narrative. Used as an adverb, “ante” combined with “narrative” or “antenarrative” means earlier than narrative. To translate story into narrative is to impose counterfeit coherence and order on otherwise fragmented and multi-layered experiences of desire‖ (par. 2).
THE JOURNEY THAT IS METANOIA A PARAPHRASE OF PSALM 25
- One more time I stretch my heart to receive your word.
- Difficult as it is for me to trust you, I want to abandon
- My old enemy, fear.
- 4. You ask me again that I take up the journey
- That is metanoia.
- That I prepare myself for new moments of fidelity.
- 7. I mean today these words so oft-prayed:
- Make known to me my path—
- Show me the way you would have me follow-
- Guide me as I discern the signs and the signals
- 11. Of your beckoning—
- I have been waiting upon your word.
- I know that grace is never lacking
- And that strength and courage will be bestowed
- I know that my weakness is not the obstacle,
- Nor my slowness to convert.
- 17. You remind gently, ever and again, of own restless search.
- In so many little ways you point the one way.
- At my first response you plant peace in my heart.
- 20. I know that change is inevitable.
- I know that I cannot retreat from poverty and the demands
- Of our human community.
- 23. Your words will haunt me until I surrender.
- When fear prompts me to distraction and excuse,
- You place in my path a need I cannot refuse.
- I experience so much fullness and I taste the promise
- Of your support.
- For surely when I dare to go where I fear to go,
- I become aware of the security of your friendship.
- And my eyes are on your face in the faces of those I meet,
- And my feet are freed for walking.
- Keep looking at me, and look after me,
- For I feel so very alone and unsure.
- I drain my energies wrestling with the unknown
- And my destination remains but a shadow (pp. 333-334).
To better understand David’s journey the next section defines three key terms used to describe David’s personal journey: 1) metanoia, 2) dark night of the soul, and 3) liminality.
Key Terms Defined
The biblical text passage in Psalms 25, David presents a deep reflective story using the word metanoia (Pul, 1983). The word metanoia literally means transcendence of the mind, to explain a shift of mind or moving from the old way of thinking to a new way of thinking. A metanoia experience is when a leader makes a ―shift‖ (change) of ―mind‖ (thoughts and feelings) and as a result is transformed to a follower-centered leader.
In the Gnostic action of Christianity, it took on the meaning of an awakening of shared intuition and direct knowing of the highest ultimate reality, i.e., God. Upon asking individuals concerning a personal metanoia experience, they will respond by speaking of something bigger than themselves where they felt a sense of being connected (Korac-Kakabadse, Kouzmin, & Kakabadse, 2002). People attempt to recapture these feelings of being a part of something bigger than themselves because of having a metanoia experience, and they will continue to search for this experience again for the rest of their lives.
The Bible imparts narratives of individuals who have had a metanoia experiences in their life and ended changing the way they think and feel. The most often used word to describe a metanoia is the word ―repentance.‖ For example, Mark 1:15 (King James Version) states, ―And saying, the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel.‖ Sanford (1970) spoke of metanoia as being a ―turning about‖ rather than being sorry for something we have done. The turning about is the ―reversal of oneself and of one’s life‖ (p. 111). Sanford continued that ―metanoia includes turning away from our identification with our outer masks, and confronting what lies behind that mask: what looks like an inner adversary or enemy‖ (p. 111).
Moore (2004) uses a term called ―dark night of the soul‖ which appears to be similar to the definition of metanoia and explains David’s emotional experience. A dark night of the soul experience bestows meaning, character, and personal substance, and one may even discover many important gifts. Moore concludes dark nights of the soul is a ―deeply disturbing episode and can be a precious moment of transformation‖ (p. XIII)
Dark Night of the Soul
When an individual begins their metanoia journey usually they are in the middle of a difficult experience such as; a divorce, a loss of a loved one, a depression, a business failure, or a nagging emotion which will not go away. For some, these problems or situations are to be solved, while in most cases these problems become a source of great despair. Moore (2004) describes these difficult times as not a ―surface challenge but a development that takes you away from the joy of your ordinary life‖ (p.XIV).
In Psalm 25 David begins by stating his personal trial of facing fear or more specific, an emotional mood that is taking away the joy of his ordinary life. In fact he calls fear his old ―enemy‖ (line 1). David expresses a need for change in his life and uses the word ―abandon‖ wanting to rid himself of this enemy fear (line 2).
Many leaders who reach a point in their life where they are faced with a challenge try to solve the problem so they can be happy. However, happiness is a sensation that evaporates quickly, and the problem never gets solved. Hoping the problem will fade away people spend most of their time avoiding life’s problems and channel them towards ambitions, addictions, and preoccupations. Examples of this are observed in leaders who become workaholics, ignore their families, engage in medications to numb the pain, and begin to isolate themselves from others. There is a clear and distinct contrast between David’s fear and wanting joy in his life. Fear is the paranoia that David lives with and joy is the metanoia that David strives to experience. With fear David is clinging to the ego, while metanoia is David willing to let go of the ego.
Moore (2004) contends a dark night is a person’s way of returning to the living. For David, experiencing another metanoia journey is his way of returning to living, because his desire is to abandon this on-going challenge of fear (line 5). This is not David’s first metanoia journey because he utters to God; ―You ask me again that I take up the journey‖ (line 4). Having experienced prior metanoias, David contends he has ―new moments of fidelity ―(line 6), and knows this will bring about new promises and vows with God and himself.
David realizes that God, a ―higher being‖, and feels a stirring his heart towards taking this metanoia journey because he pronounces; ―You remind gently, ever and again, of our own restless search and your words will haunt me until I surrender‖ (line 17 & 23). At this point David realizes he will eventually take the journey called metanoia, and God will not leave him alone until he surrenders. In the next section David’s feeling of going beyond self and discovering something more powerful than what he humanly capable of doing is called a ―state of liminality‖.
Liminality is a term that was popularized by Turner (1969), an anthropologist of the twentieth century. Turner describes liminality as a period of transition where a person abandons their identity and dwells in a state of ambiguity, openness, and indeterminancy. After undergoing this process the person enters into a new form of identity and relationship and enters back into their everyday life. Moore (2004) associates a dark night to liminality because it makes a person’s familiar world inaccessible and it puts them in touch with an unfamiliar realm, perhaps a new kind of existence altogether. It makes a person feel as if they are living in-between two places, the known and the unknown. Religions focus on the liminal condition as being a valuable spiritual experience (Moore, 2004, p. 39). David begins his spiritual experience or limination by entering into prayer for guidance to help him in a world which feels unknown and uncertain (line 7).
Moore (2004) explains when one moves through this transition they begin to ignore regular or daily activities normally performed. Moore (2004) contends, ―When you are in a liminal place, you may forget your usual environment and habits‖ (p. 41).However, the person may be compelled to keep up with an ordinary ritual just so they can maintain a sense of normalcy. The passage is alluding that David is looking for evidence of God showing up in this transcendent journey towards personal change. As leaders there are times when we are impatient waiting for God and want to charge ahead to fix life’s challenges, rather than waiting patiently for God to show up.
After analyzing David’s personal journal exigent thoughts occurred on how he changed as a leader because of his metanoia journey. Key themes began to emerge from reading David’s antenarrative of how a leader is transformed and the personal behavior of the leader changes. The article identifies seven key themes: (1) triggering a metanoia (2) connecting with a higher being (3) intentional desire to change, (4) experiencing grace (5) relationship and championship, (6) a new sense of calling, and (7) a greater capacity to love.
Triggering a Metanoia
David’s personal metanoia story points to his personal crisis of fear as a trigger for a metanoia, which eventually leads to deep personal transformation. In the passage David’s trial gets his attention when he states; ―When fear prompts me to distraction and excuse, you place in my path a need I cannot refuse‖ (line 23 & 24). This fear can be considered an irrational fear where David has an unrealistic distressing belief of great personal cost and is admitting the fear is an obstacle in his life. Heifetz and Linsky (2003) talked about getting a person’s attention using a phrase called ―turning up the heat.‖ In other words, Heifetz and Linsky (2003) said that when people experience a crisis, they begin to realize that personal change needs to occur, and they try to fix the crisis themselves, even though they feel uncomfortable.
Eventually, people realize they cannot fix the crisis by themselves, so they look to a leader to help them through the change. It should be noted when this happens, individuals must be intentional in their attempts to work through the change. As David reflects back on his specific crisis, he describes a vivid memory of the crisis that initiated his metanoia, which led to personal transformation. This leads to a second major theme where David makes connects with a higher being.
Connecting With a Higher Being
When David explains how he managed the crisis, he describes having a transcendental experience or liminal experience. David is saying because of having a transcendental experience there is a connection with a higher being and expresses this by mentioning, ―Your words will haunt me until I surrender‖ (line 23). David refers to ―God‖ to describe the higher being. Using the term God came about because of his religious background, and admitting God is a divine person or a person with a higher power then himself. This is a significant finding in David’s journal because he is essentially stating, I could not move through the crisis by myself, I needed help from someone else. David is acknowledging that someone with a higher power, beyond himself, helps him face difficult challenges. A good visual of an individual connecting with a higher being comes from Michelangelo’s famous illustration in the Sistine Chapel. The picture shows a man stretching his hand out to God and God is reaching back and they are touching fingertips. This is a wonderful symbol of connecting when we have turned our attention and longing for the divine.
Connectedness is critical in the process of becoming a spiritual leader. Without connecting to a higher being David claims there would not have been a deep personal transformation. It should be noted David realized when he connected with a higher being and as a result of the experience there was an honest assessment and reconciliation of self, which motivated him to make changes in his personal life. It was because of this honest assessment and reconciliation of self that he knew an intentional decision to change his behavior needed to occur, which is called a shift of mind or metanoia. Evidence that a shift of mind actually happened is when David tells his story about overcoming fear which led to the third theme that a leader has an intentional desire to change.
Intentional Desire to Change
The third theme points out that David has an intrinsic desire to change. Metanoia means a shift of mind, where shift means to change, and mind means thoughts and feelings. David states in his journal, ―I know that change is inevitable‖ (line 20). In other words, David realizes he will change through the experience. Based on prior experiences David uses words such as peace, courage, and strength to describe the type of change that will occur (line 14 & 19).
The antenarrative conveys David’s behavior and before the metanoia was a focus on his fear, while after the metanoia David’s focus was on his companionship with the higher being and the human community (line 22). With David’s change in behavior he now senses a higher calling to being selfless and not selfish. The fourth theme describes the inner feelings of a leader who experiences the journey through a metanoia experience. This significant inner feeling is called grace.
This light guided me more surely than the light of noonday. To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me- A place where none appeared (St. John of the Cross).
David’s narrative uses the word grace to explain what he expects when entering into a metanoia experience. Lindbergh (1955) uses the phrase ―live in grace‖ to explain her desire to be at peace with herself. She sums it up as; ―singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can‖ (p. 17). Lindbergh (1955) views ―grace as an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony‖ (p.17). This inner spiritual grace according to Lindbergh (1955) was meant to be in the eye of God.
David uses the phrase ―I know that grace is never lacking‖ to describe one of God’s attributes (line 13). In his reflective contemplation David realizes as he begins the journey he is ―in grace,‖ while during other periods when he is not taking the journey he is ―out of grace‖. As David enters into this journey knowing grace is bestowed upon him, he contends he is not ―slow to convert‖ (line 16). Castro (1984) stated a conversion is an awareness of God’s grace, God’s will, God’s love, and God’s law—a response manifesting itself in faith, repentance, obedience, and community (p. 306). Thus, conversion is the turning ―from‖ to turning ―to.‖ After the leader encounters grace, the leader begins to adapt this inner emotion and begins to view relationships as essential to one’s existence
Relationship and Companionship
I remained, lost in oblivion; My face I reclined on the Beloved. All ceased and I abandoned myself, Leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies (St. John of the Cross).
David’s journal provides a beautiful picture of how the journey enhances his relationship with God, self, and others. These relationships are described as.
“I experience so much fullness and I taste the promise of your support. For surely when I dare to go where I fear to go, I become aware of the security of your friendship. And my eyes are on your face in the faces of those I meet, And my feet are freed for walking‖ (line 25- 31).
Lindbergh (1955) spent much of her life on an island to get away from the public because of her famous husband Charles Lindbergh, and the public interest in the kidnapping of her baby. Her diaries speak about her isolation and interactions among the people on the beach who she spoke of as strangers. Lindbergh (1955) describes these relationships:
“Strangers smile at you on the beach, come up and offer you a shell, for no reason, and then go by and leave you alone again. Nothing is demanded of you in payment, no social rite expected, no tie established. It was a gift, freely offered, freely taken, in mutual trust. People smile at you here, like children, sure that you will not rebuff them, that you will smile back. And you do, because you know it will involve nothing. The smile, the act, the relationship is hung in space, in the immediacy and purity of the present, suspended on the still point of here and now, balance there, on a shaft of air, like a seagull (p. 56).
Lindbergh’s (1955) description of relationships is much like David’s experience with God which is ―pure, simple, and unencumbered‖ (p. 57). In his transcendent experience David has developed a relationship with God, then himself and after he gains a sense of confidence in his relationship with God, David then has the sense of freedom to develop relationships with others. The relationships are best defined as Lindbergh (1955) stated, ―it is a gift that is freely offered and freely taken‖ (p. 56). The sixth theme evolves into the leader having a new sense of calling or meaning and purpose in their life.
A New Sense of Calling
After making an intentional decision to change his behavior, David links his new behavior with a having a higher purpose in his life, which gave his existence as a leader more meaning. This new sense of purpose was a driving force behind David understanding his new role as a leader. David mentions that his leadership actions were more intentional and with purpose. For example David states, ―For surely when I dare to go where I fear to go‖ (line 28). In the final theme the leader is moved to going beyond themselves with a higher power to love others. Fear is removed from the leader’s emotions, grace cerates inner harmony, a new sense of purpose is to develop relationships, and the leader now has the capacity to love.
A Greater Capacity to Love
Later in David’s journal he declares having ―much fullness and tasting the promise of your support‖ (line 26 & 27). This statement conveys the divine’s desire is to develop a relationship with the leader, which imparts on David the power to love others, so he can deal with difficult and angry people and not be afraid. Prior to the metanoia David did not care about how others felt and was self-centered, he was more concerned about his own emotions. Feeling another’s pain and emotion was of no concern to David. However, when David experienced a metanoia he felt secure with the divine’s friendship and begins to see ―the faces of those I meet, and my feet are freed for walking‖ (line 29-31). David now has the power and ability to work and influence others as a leader. In other words David now feels the pain and emotion of another person, rather than focusing on his own self-interest. Thus, a leader who has the capacity to love others will hear others say, ―You have changed‖. You seem more relaxed and at peace.
This supports Winston’s (2002) conclusion that leaders must view people as hired hearts and not hired hands. In other words, leaders must put the interest of others ahead of theirs According to Winston, putting others interest ahead of ours is defined as agapao, or having a greater capacity to love others.
After identifying major themes and interpreting David’s personal journal, implications refer to the larger meaning of the antenarrative. An eight-phrase model evolved of how a metanoia occurs explains the process a leader may experience when reaching a higher meaning and purpose in their personal leadership. Based on David’s journal, this model explains a involuntary step by step process. The steps are a natural progression of a shift of mind where the outcome is personal transformation. Based on David’s journal, the limitation of this model is that the leader cannot initiate the process because the process is usually spontaneous or unexpected. For example David experiences an emotion called fear which is unplanned and comes about because he is facing a challenge that he does not have the human capacity to solve. This is why the metanoia model describes an involuntary process a leader goes through when the metanoia is triggered by a crisis, where the leader has an experience going beyond themselves to connect with a higher being.
The model also supports David’s description of having multiple metanoias when he states, ―You ask me again that I take up the journey that is metanoia‖ (line 4 & 5). The eight steps create a loop, so every time a leader goes through a new crisis, the process begins again. What follows, are the eight stages of a metanoia process. As a note, the antenarrative does not explore if David must go through all the phases of the model to experience a complete metanoia to have a transformational experience. Using David’s personal journal, a model did evolve from the antenarrative:
Stage 1: Crisis: The individual has a personal crisis that triggers the metanoia experience.
Stage 2: Supernatural: The person acknowledges an ―out-of-body‖ experience that is best described as a divine epiphany.
Stage 3: Transcendent: The individual has an out-of-body experience or an emotionally charged experience; there is a sense of connecting with a higher power.
Stage 4: Changed Behavior: The person has a transcendent experience and displays changed behavior that moves from the old way of thinking to a new way of thinking.
Stage 5: New Values and Beliefs: The person adapts new values and beliefs because of the metanoia.
Stage 6: A New Sense of Calling: The individual admits having a new sense of calling or a higher purpose in his life.
Stage 7: Becoming Influential: The person realizes he is influential with those he serves.
Stage 8: Creating Spiritual Community: The person creates spiritual community because of the changed behavior.
The next section answers the question how does David’s antenarrative tie into management practices? The significance of this article points to storytelling as the process which brings about meaning and purpose to the antenarrative. At the end of this section predictions are used to help the leader understand how a story can be useful to understand people and organizational culture.
Connection to management
“In organizations, storytelling is the sense-making currency of human relationships among internal and external stakeholders‖ (Boje, 1991, p. 106). People engage in stories about new events and refine their stories so they can interpret the activities of the organization. With unexpected occurrences people recount old stories and compare them to new stories as they begin to unfold (1991). When leaders change from their old self to their new self, people want to know what happened. Because antenarratives do not have a beginning, middle, and end (BME), it is really a collective memory of what happened. Antenarrative directs our analytical thinking to the flow of storytelling about the experience before the narrative has a BME and becomes linear. Antenarrative gives attention to the speculative or guessing what is happening in the flow of the experience so antenarrtative is before story and the betting on the transformation or looking forward.
For leaders, antenarratives becomes a powerful process to unravel the unfolding stories of people in the organization to better understand the culture. Leaders can confirm new data and new interpretations to make sense of a situation. As the stories start to unfold new meanings about what is being said helps the leader interpret what decisions to make. Examples would be gaining a better political view, or predict the stability of a relationship.
In the case of David’s journal we begin to see and understand Davis’s leadership and how he manages the challenges in his life. At times the story is fragmented, but through narrative interpretation we can then begin to unfold the story’s meaning. What emerge are predictions of what might happen in the story. Using Boje’s (1991) insight into storytelling and antenarrative helps leaders understand how the power of storytelling brings about meaning in the organization. Following is an example of how to unravel the meaning of a story.
The story of David is my interpretation of Puls (1983) paraphrase, or my collective side of the story. Secondly, the completeness of the story is based on details David provides, however I have added a more detailed interpretation so the reader can gain a better understanding of an experiential journey called metanoia. Thirdly, I have taken some entitlement rights to retell David’s story based on my extensive research on David’s spiritual experience and how it links to leadership. Fourthly, as a significant note since David is dead his voice inflection, body language such as nods of the head and raised eyebrows are missing from the interpretation. Therefore, the story does not include David’s behavior, but is only interpreted identifying specific emotional tones such as fear, peace, grace, and security. Moving through this process the story breathes new life and spirit into the meaning of the story.
Leaders can learn from David’s story how personal transformation occurs. David alludes to a shift of mind by having new feelings and thoughts when he says: ―you will plant peace in my heart.‖ Suddenly, David expresses having a new sense of meaning in his life when he states, ―I experience so much fullness and I taste the promise of your support. For surely when I dare to go where I fear to go.‖ David now has a higher calling, because he has conquered his crisis of fear. Fry and Slocum (2008) eloquently described the Psalmist’s emotions:
” Spiritual leadership therefore requires, doing what it takes through faith in a clear, compelling vision which produces a sense of calling—that part of spiritual well-being that gives one a sense of making a difference and, therefore, that one’s life has meaning. Vision and hope/faith add belief, conviction, trust, and action to achieve the vision. Thus, spiritual leadership generates hope/faith‖. (p. 89)
Reflecting back on David’s journey the eight stage model provides a beginning point for leaders to consider when facing challenges they realize are beyond their own human capacity to resolve. Further research is needed to see if leaders can make major shifts in their behavior and thinking without a metanoia. David summarizes his experience by saying, ―Keep looking at me, and look after me, for I feel so very alone and unsure. I drain my energies wrestling with the unknown and my destination remains but a shadow‖ (line 32-25). In this final summary of thoughts leaders must realize that without a higher power our destination lacks meaning and purpose and we continue to search for that higher calling.
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BIO: Dr. Kevin Grant
Dr. Kevin Grant received his Ph.D. from Regent University in Organizational Leadership and spent over 26 years in both public and non-profit firms as a COO and CFO. Currently, Dr. Grant is the Assistant Professor for the School of Business at Vanguard University. Kevin is a frequent lecturer at several Universities in Southern California ranging from Managerial Finance, Economics, Leadership, to Public Administration. Over the past six years Kevin has developed and taught a number of online courses to students all over the world. In January 2006 Kevin’s lectures in Kiev, Ukraine to major leaders on the subject of a “New Meaning in Leadership” was well received. Along with teaching and writing Kevin consults firms developing strategic and financial plans. Kevin’s research focuses on spirituality, spiritual leadership and developing spiritual organizations. Recently two journals were published in Kevin’s field of research; 1) Who are the lepers in our organization?: A case for compassionate leadership, and 2) Imperfect people leading Imperfect people: Creating an environment of forgiveness.