Jainus-Owlus: Wisdom metaphor for Leadership

Leadership wisdom is around us.

We have to identify and get to know it. And we must apply wisdom, which is the application of knowledge.

A sculpture as metaphor for leadership wisdom

Leadership wisdom is around us with Jainus-Owlus

Technical name: Jainus-Owlus

Common name: Salvaged car disc brakes, leaf spring suspension, mixed chicken wire and corrugated iron.

My very first attempt of rusty rustic welded metal garden sculpture! Meet Jainus-Owlus. That’s the technical name I have given this symbol. Don’t bother web search engine browsing as I claim invention of this title.

When I saw the discarded brake discs outside my car servicing garage, I saw a pair of large owl eyes. At a next visit, I saw a pair of leaf suspension springs and they looked like wings! On both occasions I was totally sober! The garage owner was intrigued in what I saw in the scrap yet was kind enough to let me have them. (Thanks Chris Dillon!).

Up to this point my total experience of welding over the years barely amounted to an hour! However, I was driven by a vision of stories that have influenced my life since childhood.

When I started to assemble the Owl, I realised that when mounted, it could be viewed from both sides. This is when my learnings in Wisdom Traditions took flight! I was reminded of the Roman God Janus. According to Mythology, Janus could see the Future and the Past at the same time, in the Present. In this respect, my Owl would be looking in two directions. Perhaps if one can relate to Jainus-Owlus, one can see new beginnings more often. Perhaps yesterday has served a good purpose. It is a matter of fact that January – a time we associate with new beginnings, the start of a new year, takes its name from Januarius, a term derived from Janus!

My intent, as the welding evolved, was to have the Owl on a pivot as the Owl bird is symbol for being able to see all around. (It is like the Owl can turn its head all the way around!). This seeing all around is a philosophy that deeply touched me during my studies of the ancient Jain wisdom. They have the metaphysical precept of Anekantavada – doctrine of “non-one-sidedness”. Whilst non-one-sidedness is a literal translation, imagine the potency of meaning when this was intended to convey: “many sidedness”! If so, We may never look at problems or possibilities the same way again. How much more tolerant could we be?

So, I merged Jain and Janus and extended Owl to rhyme! Jainus-Owlus.

In all aspects of life, we encounter or engage in experiences that delight us or hurt us – and all the stages in between. I have always said that: We live today, in the now, because of our past yet headed towards the future. As human beings, we grow by the baggage of our past. The point is to drop the weight and drag of scar and pain, lightening the load to that of learnings, and boosting our energies from that of happy moments. These learnings shape our present thinking and perspective on life and circumstance and allow us to envision a future……..all contingent on “if we so choose”.

Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the negativity of the past, which destroys our present mood and prevents us from seeing positively. Equally, we know of times when the past lessons act as a rudder to navigate the present whilst headed towards a better tomorrow.

Jainus-Owlus reminds us: To see the past (memory and scar) and future (vision and aspiration) whilst in the present. For we cannot undo or change or repeat the past. Neither can we exist in the future – both are more in the realm of fantasy. We are alive in the now! We are reminded to release the Owl within – to see all around from all perspectives from on the ground to higher up.

Jainus-Owlus is a symbol of optimism and positivity that consciously considers circumstance from different points of view. Jainus-Owlus is not deluded. It sees pain and suffering for what it is and knows that all of life is a polarity – if we choose.

It is no coincidence that the Greek Goddess Athena– whose metaphor is learning, was often companioned with the Owl of Wisdom. Some have associated the Owl in Ancient Egypt with death. For me, the Owl is about transition, transmutation and sees through the darkness. We have happy memories of the past, yet the ‘downs’ of our yesterday seem ever ready to be the drag upon us. And the ‘night owl’ exudes mystery and magic which is more about that intuitive faculty we all have and need – if only we were awake!

There is in life a golden thread that runs in continuum through the evolution of the unique ‘you’. Jainus-Owlus is that allegory! You are yesterday, today and tomorrow all in one. The challenge is to fly with vision beyond darkness, with swiftness and speed of self-knowing confidence, with agility that comes through clarity to navigate life’s moments, with talons to pick judiciously, and learn and grow and become.

As conscious functioning human beings, we are in charge of where we go and how we are. We can choose to give away our power in reacting. We can choose to empower ourselves further by responding. The former is instinct and dictated by experience and mental conditioning within our brain function. The latter is the conscious choice application of intelligence.

Leadership is not something you can just buy or read aboutLeadership is about the perspective of Jainus-Owlus. We are the leaders of our own lives first. And when we follow others, we do so by choice even when we apparently see no choice. When our stand with others puts us in a position to lead others, we have a duty of care that is about them and not us. Can we see the owl eyes of potential in others? Can we see the fledgling wings in those we may help to fly? Are we optimistic for ourselves and for others? Can we transmute negativity into positivity? Just ask Jainus-Owlus!

Jainus-Owlus sits in a tree stump. With its talons forward, and red eyes, it looks to the future with passion and optimism. From the opposite direction, Jainus-Owlus has white eyes to reflect with objectivity to and about the past. Subtle differences between the forward and rear looking features remind us that we are continually evolving.

In truth, my welding has much room for improvement. I owe so much thanks to those who showed me what welding is and can do over many lifetimes! I am grateful to John Wood, Noel MacDonald, Doug Jenson, Bluey Calvin Woods, Jamie Stewart and lately, all the artists whose works of metal sculptures I admire, like artist Laurie Collins. I acknowledge each of you for seeing in me potential to embark on things I had no knowledge of.

Hello from Jainus-Owlus. Come with me. Let’s fly past, over and around and see many things in different ways. You have said hello back when you say ‘but this is me’!

When the tree had given its life to the termites, we salvaged the canopy for garden mulch, the twigs for kindling, and the trunk and branches for firewood as winter warmth. The centre hollowed, even before Jainus-Owlus was brought into the world, we saved the stump as a pedestal for some future sculpture! My thanks to neighbour carpenter philosopher Caleb for helping me lift Jainus-Owlus into place.

Components include the car brake discs, a pair of leaf springs, assorted chicken wire, pieces of reo steel, off cuts of steel, vehicle reflectors for the eyes and rusting corrugated iron for the leafy perch. Some may see my pile of junk. I refer to it as my stockpile of components of future projects! Thanks to my wife Pauline for support and encouragement and tolerating my own time frames and the piles of ‘junk’ which I insist are just raw materials in potential. Thank you for loving the results!

My next project is already conceived: The Craneology of Pi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!