From the moment that we are born, we learn about survival in the form of gratification, validation, and punishment from our parents or guardians, who serve the role of authority figures. In turn, we become conditioned to react to other authority figures—including our teachers and managers. We react with discipline and obedience, or with defiance, depending on how we learned to process, digest, and deal with authoritative figures at an early age.
We wind up conditioned to seek guidance externally–from those in formal authoritative roles—rather than tuning into our intuition to find the answers to our questions. We may begin to dismiss our own ideas because we believe that we don’t have the title or the credentials to make important decisions.
With this, we sometimes silence our own voice and forget what it means to be a leader—even a leader of our own lives. This can lead to a loss of power and inability to change not only in our surroundings, but also within.
Conscious leadership requires reframing this story. It not only develops critical skills but also internal soul formation. With this process comes the responsibility of reflecting about one’s personal vision. When we become truly aware of what it is that we desire to achieve in our lives, we give ourselves permission to fully step into the space of infinite possibilities where the unknown is our ally and not our enemy. We take ownership of our own life story and begin to make the appropriate changes and decisions to lead an intentional and inspired life. Once we are able to truly guide our own lives, we can guide others along their paths.
Here are 10 things to cultivate in your life in order to become a conscious leader:
1. Create Your Personal Vision Statement
Before creating a vision for others, leaders must create a vision statement for their own lives. In order to do this, you must ask yourself, “What is my personal vision? How do I intend to connect my heart, head, and hands to make this vision a reality? How will I share my gifts with the world?
If you listen closely, you might be able to encounter that which you were put on earth to fulfill as your life’s purpose, or dharma.
2. Step Onto the Balcony
The balcony perspective refers to adapting peripheral vision so you can clearly see all angles of a challenge or scenario. Many times, we can get caught up in the mundane details of daily life. From here, we can continue to stay on the dance floor, or we can make a conscious choice to go to the balcony to see the bigger picture to enliven creative solutions.
3. Speak Your Heart’s Truth
Leaders who speak their hearts’ truth create a ripple effect around a common vision that is transformative, fulfilling, and empowering. Meditation is a helpful tool to connect with your truest self. Try the So Hum mantra meditation, to open your throat chakra and tap into your essence of truth within. The more you practice speaking your heart’s truth, the more natural it will be for you to connect to it daily.
4. Cultivate a Practice
Stress can get in the way of leaders living their highest potential. Develop a way to manage and reduce the stress by creating a ritual in your life. Make a list of all of the things you feel help to reduce stress in your life, and build your routine around that list. Mine looks like this: meditate, exercise, practice yoga, sing, write, dance, travel, and spend time with family and friends. The better you take care of yourself, the better you can lead others.
Listening is an art. When you truly tune in to listen with the ears of your heart, you are able to turn on your compassion and understanding to best serve the person who is sharing. Practice mindful listening by holding the space for others to feel comfortable with sharing and not interrupting their flow of words.
6. Ask for Feedback
Welcome feedback as a gift to continue to learn and to grow. Everyone has blind spots and these can be addressed with an invitation for others to share how one’s decisions and actions affect the whole team. Release any resistance that may come with feedback.
7. Commit to the Personal and Professional Development of Those Around You
Believe in the potential that each individual has the ability to become an empowered individual. Provide resources and advice, while at the same time allowing for others to make their own decisions.
As well, commit to your own growth by attending leadership conferences, reading books on leadership, and/or having role models or archetypes who inspire the ethical and conscious leader that you want to become. My favorite leadership conferences are: International Leadership Association Global Conference, Leading from the Emerging Future, and The Public Conversations Project. The books I recommend are: Leadership on the Line, The Soul of a Leader, and The Soul of Leadership.
8. Be Grateful
Practice gratitude each day to honor where you are in your own developmental and spiritual journey. Take a few minutes each morning or each evening to honor the things around you that have brought peace and love to your heart and to those around you.
9. Have a Sanctuary
Every leader needs a place to cultivate silence, embrace creativity, and reenergize. For some, walking barefooted in the grass, standing on a yoga mat, attending a retreat, or soaking your feet in the ocean can bring feelings of comfort and restoration.
Schedule a time to go to your sanctuary at least once a month if it’s not easy to make it a part of your regular schedule.
Have fun and enjoy each day as a gift. Live with a curious mind, an open heart, and a nourishing smile as you step into the conscious leader that lives inside of you.