True Queens Serve Their People
I hope you're all doing well! I know there've been a lot of changes in our lives over the last year, and I hope you’re feeling supported and finding opportunities for courage, kindness, creativity, and trust. Please feel free to write me a note and tell me how you're doing.
I haven’t blogged in awhile---when the pandemic started I was hired as a manager by one of my clients, and I’ve been getting my hands into the clay of helping him build his business. It’s been fun and fascinating, and I didn’t realize how much I’d enjoy management.
I’ve been inspired to write something about royalty, though! It’s come up three times lately:
I’ve been watching the latest season of The Crown, with all its messy and beautiful royal characters.
I watched and loved the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit twice, and then read the novel. The show is about an orphan who grows up to be a grandmaster chess player, and her personal journey of becoming a queen in her own life (check out her clothing in the final scene!).
And last, I recently found myself in an uncomfortable dynamic with my landlady, a retired CEO. I felt like I was running up against her ‘queendom’ and sense of imperiousness over her lands and ‘subjects’. It was pretty unpleasant, and I did my best to set boundaries while looking for a new place to live.
I was talking to a friend about the situation with the landlady, and she said, “True queens serve their people.” Yes! I thought. I can see this transition happening throughout the culture---in our own behaviors as well as in our expectations for royalty, CEOs, leaders, and ordinary people alike. The age of power over is giving way to the age of power with. Sovereignty over others is giving way to sovereignty in oneself.
Can you imagine what a different leader Elizabeth II would be if she saw herself as a servant for the people, instead of surrounding herself with servants? Can you imagine what our political leadership would look like if they saw their roles as genuinely serving people, or if corporations knew that their only task was to care for their customers?
This type of service isn’t about duty or obligation. It comes from knowing ourselves as inherently worthy: not as better or worse than others, but as absolute equals who are intimately connected with all beings. True queens know that the way we treat others is the way we treat ourselves.
What does this mean for how we do business? The questions we ask are changing. We used to ask questions like:
How can we maximize our profits?
How can we extract as much money as possible from customers?
How can we get people to do what we want?
As we start to see customers and clients as inseparable aspects of ourselves, we begin asking different questions:
How can we be of service to people?
How can we create win-win situations?
How can we respect and inspire people?
How can we create relationships of cooperation, kindness, and care?
My story ends happily, with me buying my first house. It’s a sweet, nurturing, and joyful home, and I’m loving the feeling of sovereignty in my own home. The Irish mystic John O’Donohue wrote,
Everyone longs for intimacy and dreams of a nest of belonging in which one is embraced, seen, and loved. Something within each of us cries out for belonging. We can have all the world has to offer in terms of status, achievement, and possessions. Yet without a sense of belonging it all seems empty and pointless.*
May your home be a place of love.
May your relationships be uplifting and kind.
May your community be a place of belonging.
*Tara Brach is currently doing a podcast series on belonging, and I borrowed this quote from last week’s episode. Highly recommended!