The Arthurian legends have long held fascination for me. I have read many a book on the subject and am totally mesmerised by the majestic vison of Camelot espoused by Arthur and the leadership qualities he displayed in pursuit of that state of being. I am, however, equally drawn in by the wisdom, intuition and higher perspective held by Merlin as he travels alongside Arthur in an attempt to provide wise counsel and guidance.
Like all powerful legends the story can be received at many levels and contains as many lessons, insights and provocations as it does entertainment and fantasy. On a personal level it has provided me with an abiding sense of purpose – to help create a world where leaders of all genres and remits can sit around the round table as equals, bound by a common ‘code’ and common values, striving toward creating a better world for everyone.
One of the lenses on the story that particularly intrigues me is the ‘relationship’ between Merlin and Arthur. The former often depicted as an older man and the latter a young, naïve boy. For me that relationship is very much like the one we could have between our outer self or personality (Arthur) and our higher self or soul (Merlin). A relationship where there are daily challenging interchanges and deep silent connections coupled with loving support, unconditionally given. It’s a relationship where the soul seeks to be heard and to help us to ‘grow up’ psychologically, ethically, spiritually.
This relationship between soul and personality is one which is rarely explored within the organisational leader context. And yet, regardless of whether we discuss it openly, in my view it exists. We all have our outer Arthur and we all have our inner Merlin. Deciding to open ourselves to the existence of the two parts of ourselves and seeking to build the relationship between them would bring us access to immense power – an inner power that would elevate our livingness and our leadership to new levels.
It is an inner power that might even enable us to dare to dream of building our own Camelot – groups, organisations, living systems where everyone is bonded by powerful and uplifting values, beliefs and behaviours that are deeply held and not lightly transgressed.