Standing Like a Mountain: Finding Your Core Strength as a Leader

leadership organization change social change visualization Sep 28, 2022


Author: David Sibbet


As the sun rose over the south shoulder of Mt. Shasta on the fourth morning of my vision quest solo, I found myself doing the “Standing Like a Mountain” pose. The theme of constancy in the face of change emerged as a big takeaway from days of reflection, and I would like to share some of that thinking.

Shasta felt almost like a partner on this quest, as my purpose circle looked directly across a large meadow and up to the peak. On the last night of the three-day solo, the questers were invited to stay up all night imagining our deaths and praying for a vision. I was sitting up in my sleeping bag in the purpose circle. The Milky Way arced overhead, bright and immense, with Cygnus the swan flying south along its path. The Big Dipper rotated around the North Star, which stayed constant as the night sky revolved around it. I knew of course the Earth was doing the revolving. Bear came into my imaginal mind.

In the middle of the night, one of my spirit guides took me on a journey to talk to an ancient olive tree in Gethsemane, Jerusalem. It is part of a grove where Jesus was arrested while praying. I was able to visit it in January 2020 right before the beginning of the pandemic with Gisela, my partner. Being raised as a Christian by my minister father, the experience was important. 

“What do you have to tell me?” I asked the old tree in my inner mind. “I want to tell you about the importance of constancy,” it replied. “It is my roots and trunk, here year after year, that allows the branches, leaves and olives to remain vital and productive.” “How did you get here?” I asked. “I was seeded long ago, and my seed contained the urge to grow, the longing to reach up toward the sun.”

I remembered then the giant fir at the foot of my day camp. It was the largest of a group of three that made a little sanctuary of shade. Its rugged bark was covered with yellow moss. Dead lower branches snagged out rising to a rich canopy of needles and buds. The squirrels and birds came all day long. The last afternoon there I looked up and appreciated that the basis of this magnificent tree was a trunk that didn’t move much, then or over the years. It, too, was constant.

Can I be like these trees or this mountain in these times, I wondered? What are my constancies?

They came to me quite clearly there in the middle of the night: 

  1. Be open to guidance from spirit.
  2. Be reciprocal in all my relationships. When I receive, contribute back.
  3. Keep the big picture in mind. Remember the whole while working on parts.
  4. Care for myself and others. Stay open to feelings. Can I feel you feeling me? Can I breathe in pain and breath out compassion?
  5. Be in service and support the commons.  

I’ve come to think that in times like these that are so ambiguous and fragmented, it’s important to have leaders that are reliable, stable influences. That kind of stability needs to come from within, from a person’s embodied, lived values. Supporting visionary leaders in finding this kind of core strength is the work that is calling me now. The five things I listed here have been with me a long time, and seem to be getting stronger. 

In past quests, I’ve had visions of what I needed to do. This quest was a vision of how I needed to be. My memory of the olive, the fir and the mountain will be my reminder.



This article is adapted from David Sibbet’s blog. You can read more here.

Learning Opportunities with David Sibbet

Leading Change: Catalyzing Systemic Transformation

Spring of 2023 to Summer of 2024

David and Gisela Wendling, Ph.D., are seeking a committed cohort of serious change leaders and consultants to learn comprehensively about designing and leading change. The program will bring together many of The Grove’s methodologies and tools through four week-long, in-person retreats, regular web conferences, consultation on participant change projects, and the use of our online platform to support asynchronous learning and collaboration among the participants. 

Growing Awareness of Fields & the Neuropsychology of Change

Nov 29–Dec 2, 2022, 8:30am to 12:00pm PT

David and Mary Gelinas, Ed.D., will again offer this well-received online workshop to explore how to understand and work with personal, group and noetic fields. These capabilities are essential for any work that hopes to be transformational. This workshop builds on three years of exploration of the neuropsychology of change in The GLEN, and current research and writing about understanding the impact of personal, social and noetic fields. Alan Briskin, Ph.D., who is working with Mary on a new book on fields, joins on the fourth day.

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