There is a little book I highly recommend, a leadership development tale short on title and only 90 pages, yet filled with the wisdom of the ages. “He” by Robert Johnson is about the myth of Perceval and the Holy Grail.
Now, it is, in essence, a mystery story and a precursor of the Indiana Jones films. It is, also a pointer to the masculine in each of us. And as women, we can learn a great deal about how we behave in the work world; not to imitate our male counterparts, to align with them in positive, productive ways.
Perceval is on a journey of exploration, of individuation, to find himself, to grow up. All myths have meta- messages that direct us toward the tests and trials leading to the Holy Grail of transformation. Here Perceval achieves his final quest not by answering a riddle or performing some great dead, but by asking a question.
When he visits the Grail King he sees that the man had been seriously wounded in the thigh, in the area of the testes, that his masculine energy had been compromised. To make matters worse, the land is lifeless without fruit and blossoms.
The wounded King waits for the younger man to freely express his interest, to ask what happened. Perceval remains quiet, being an “appropriate” guest he does not state the obvious and the King is dismayed at the lack of response.
Male or female, this is the type of situation we see in the workplace all the time. We so often remain silent, proper and courteous rather than address what we see and hear and feel.
Eventually Perceval “gets it” and asks the key questions. First, “What ails thee uncle?” Then he continues with “What is the secret of the grail? Whom does it serve?” Then the king is healed and the land once again begins to bloom.
Please note that the answers are not as important as the inquiring mind that asks the questions.
The essential message is that when masculine energy and compassion are divided from one another, tragedy is inevitable. Think about our world at this time. In the masculine model of success, power and prestige take precedence, compassion, and long term consequences are secondary.
I believe that as women, we have a major task to help combine the power of the masculine with the caring of the feminine. It is not that one is better than the other. It is about the combination of forces that lead us to a better way of living together on this very small blue pearl of a planet.