As a leader, you're very, very smart. But how conscious are you? It's an important question, say the authors of 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. The most conscious leaders are not only the most effective and productive. They're also the least likely to sink under the strain of long hours, competing commitments, and the fact that work-life balance is "a figment of the imagination," as Jim Dethmer puts it. Dethmer is co-founder of the Conscious Leadership Group and one of the book's co-authors.
"My personal journey is that I'm 61 and I've been in an inquiry about what it means to be optimally effective, productive, and alive since I was a teenager," he says. "That took me in all different directions. About 25 years ago I started coaching CEOs although people didn't know what a coach was back then. I began seeing the early stages of burnout." A former marriage counselor, Dethmer observed as these business leaders' personal lives suffered, their marriages ended, and their bodies began to break down. He also observed the effect of stress on teams as well as individuals. And he began to wonder if there was a better way.
"In my mind, stress is actually optional," he says. "There's good stress. But toxic stress comes from toxic fear." As he observed the breakdown of successful teams, Dethmer says, "It started to look like fear-based relationships. People stopped being fully candid. At times they didn't reveal relevant data. They started to avoid being authentic. This led to ineffective decision-making, and all of a sudden, the best ideas weren't being brought forward."
This dynamic can be even more pronounced in a start-up, he says. "In the start-up phase, everyone has a relationship to fear. They'll have vision and anxiety. They'll have a great idea, but they'll be short on resources, and they'll live with a great scarcity of time." For start-ups especially, he adds, "It's critically important to be conscious."
Dethmer defines being conscious this way: "To be here in the present moment in a non-triggered state." Leaders who are conscious can tap into their intelligence, their emotional intelligence, and what Dethmer terms "body intelligence"--the ability to listen to your gut feeling or intuition. It's human nature to go unconscious, or "below the line" at least some of the time. But the more we can remain conscious, the more we can be effective--and wise--leaders.
Here are the 15 commitments Dethmer says will make you a conscious leader:
I commit to taking full responsibility for the circumstances of my life, and my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being. I commit to support others to take full responsibility for their lives.
I commit to growing in self-awareness. I commit to regarding every interaction as an opportunity to learn. I commit to curiosity as a path to rapid learning.
I commit to feeling my feelings all the way through to completion. They come, and I locate them in my body then move, breathe and vocalize them so they release all the way through.
I commit to saying what is true for me. I commit to being a person to whom others can express themselves with candor.
I commit to ending gossip, talking directly to people with whom I have an issue or concern, and encouraging others to talk directly to people with whom they have an issue or concern.
I commit to the masterful practice of integrity, including acknowledging all authentic feelings, expressing the unarguable truth and keeping my agreements.
I commit to expressing my full magnificence, and to supporting and inspiring others to fully express their creativity and live in their zone of genius.
I commit to creating a life of play, improvisation, and laughter. I commit to seeing all of life unfold easefully and effortlessly. I commit to maximizing my energy by honoring rest, renewal and rhythm.
I commit to seeing that the opposite of my story is as true as or truer than my original story. I recognize that I interpret the world around me and give my stories meaning.
I commit to being the source of my security, control and approval.
I commit to experiencing that I have enough of everything... including time, money, love, energy, space, and resources.
I commit to seeing all people and circumstances as allies that are perfectly suited to help me learn the most important things for my growth.
I commit to creating win for all solutions (win for me, win for the other person, win for the organization, and win for the whole) for whatever issues, problems, concerns, or opportunities life gives me.
I commit to being the resolution or solution that is needed: seeing what is missing in the world as an invitation to become that which is required.