Transforming your practice of business!The game is up- you cannot lead anymore without considering the wider picture. When we do something radical – we do not know the way – that is why it is radical! - David Whyte.
We are at a crisis point – again – in our country and in our world! How ready are you for it? Are you able to span the layers, the nuances, the levels; to hold the fear, and the flights to ways that enable you to expand, grow, include and transcend in order to create new horizons and 'lands' of prosperity?
Before we go out there, let's first go within!
Whatever your position, it is time to truly re-calibrate your 'thinking' to shift your actions. This is not the time for disconnect, or blame or shame: it is a time to truly look at ourselves and see that in each of us we have a mirror of the other, or a part of them, in us. None are free from this truth.
In pushing the limits of the metaphor that the title brings, those who make up the board (the leaders) desperately need to have contact with their floor (their people), for in fact, it is the board (the wood) that makes up the character of the floor! The board is not some remote articulation of an organisation. It is that which is a particular expression of the floor - which, hopefully every board member has at some time been part of in their own journey through organisational life, be it a family, business or a government. This is a time for remembering – not for forgetting – for in the remembering the critical job is not to repeat the limited and self -serving mindsets of the past: it is rather to draw on its wisdom to create the very best in the present. There is no room for elevated hubris: what is critical is that there is recognition that in looking at the floor – those we may think are different, perhaps even less, or 'subordinate' – are in fact parts of the whole. In this lies the true power of any organism/organisation/nation. We are all interconnected and to attack or kill off any part, unless it is completely diseased, is to cut out a part of ourselves.
It seems that as people go through their journey 'up' the ladder, they tend to get more and more disconnected and distant from their roots, and see these sources of our being, as expedient rather than integral to the agreed vision that we may buy into. A human phenomenon of 'self and other forgetting' – but not a wise practice. Yet the rhetoric continues: 'of course I work in my family's/my people's/my party's/my nation's interest'! The rhetoric however does not show up in the lived experience of that relationship. There is an alternative; but it requires practice and discipline.
Wake up – grow up – open up – clean up – show up! Integral Leadership Practice & Wisdom!
To be conscious means to be awake. To take on the complexity of our lives and live it intentionally with purpose and meaning, not only for one's self but for all. What's needed is to engage in self-critique, in reflection and feedback! What do I mean by being awake: it means many things to different people, but for here it suffices to look at it as the ability to stay both focused and expansive; to have direction, and be able to shift that direction in any moment that serves a noble vision and contributes to creating a thriving place for all. It is in the service of planet, people, and their souls. To be conscious means to be able to let go; to take perspective, to invite curiosity, to challenge one's own mind and approach, to connect, to vitally endure, to see and sense into an emerging unknown. To be awake is difficult as it is about waking up from mindless habits that drive our everyday lives: in it one cannot deny, blame, project onto someone else what is essentially one's own, whether belief, or feelings or thoughts; one cannot pretend one did not know. To be awake means to ask the question we most fear to ask – of ourselves, and of others.
To be awake also means to grow up and growing is about stepping into and owning one's adulthood: it is a conscious act of embrace for the full accountability of one's own life, one's decisions, and what one may hereto have turned a blind eye to. It means one needs to do the work of journeying into maturity and wisdom which is both an achingly hard journey as well as a most worthy one: one of courage, one of morality, one of right action, and one of claiming consciousness and intelligence with full responsibility (response–ability).
To be grown up means that we then have find it in ourselves to open up. This is the place of courage – of fierce and loving engagement with our vulnerabilities in the core of real warrior strength – not that of the false avoidance of naming it weak! It is the place where we can no longer hide. It is that place in which we have to ask the question that we have never dared to ask ourselves before! That one question that keeps us hidden for our deepest longing holds the paradox of our wish to be seen, AND our fear of truly being seen! And then comes the cleaning up – and that too requires a commitment to face one's own nemesis and come through.
Cleaning up means to do the work of releasing ourselves from the mindsets and constructs that are a distortion of the base elements of our nature: our envy, our anger, our pride, our drive to covet, our shame, our guilt, and our fear of insignificance. It is not giving in to distract ourselves into some false sense of temporary fulfillment to ward off the feelings of being less than, or more than, at the expense of someone else. It is owning our bias, our prejudice, and our false claims of justification of intent in the name of a self, or group, or tribe, or nation, that in fact feels under threat even when no threat in fact is there (and sometimes they are!).
And then comes the showing up! When we have done the inner work – can we live it and stand by it, in an expansive manner that says, 'this is deeply about me and much more than me'. The big question is what will help us all move to a place in which we all thrive not merely survive. It is in this space where we can each see our role, our place, different and all important: some more simple and some more complex, but with a deep resonance to the idea of the cell as critical to the whole organism. We can begin to eat away at some of it but then comes that tipping point – when the eating away destroys the whole and we move to have our very existence wiped out.
Can we thrive? This is the question facing a board, the floor, a family, an organisation, a political party, a nation, the human race. Do not think for one moment that all of the above is not the work of every single individual – in their own varying capacities – to do! And to those who assume leadership – it is your ultimate commitment in taking on that role!
For a healthy organism/organisation/ nation – each part needs to live in deep respect of each other even though we may disagree on certain issues, and we can only do that when we do the work that is needed to tear away the pretense that we do not depend on those across the street or across the world.
The work in practice:
A high calibre client of mine, to whom I extend a deep bow, has just completed the iron man for the first time and his journey becomes an example. He is a leader of note in that he readily engages with the intent of walking the talk. He would not claim a finished product, but in the work we do, he is totally committed to the conscious engagement of continuous re-calibration of awareness, awakening, growing, cleaning and showing up by recognising his humanity in his will to become that leader who is able to walk his talk and worthy of his duty as a leader.
His integral practice – whole body/mind leadership – includes his physical training, and we draw the lessons of business and training into each other as a place of convergence with his leadership practices. Why was he cultivating body, mind and spirit in the service of the role of leader of a large business? Because he could see that the role is a gift of service and bestowment of caretaking of a business – for which he feels a deep sense of accountability and responsibility.
Our conversation turned to taking his huge fear of the swim, and in particular the water, with thousands of people in it as a focus for the conversation. I introduced the idea of engaging a different mindset to the one of 'fear of water and possible drowning' to a plan B, as an alternative to the threats he may encounter. But the work did not stop at the conversation: the power lay in turning it to action as he went and put the new mind discipline into practice to ready himself for the event. He swam and worked through the differing scenarios to the original fear. He focused on slowing down his mind to engage the counter-intuitive act of turning on his back and breathing deeply. He put it into his muscle before he got into the race, and a very different part of him got triggered on the firing of the starting gun. He did the training; he paced himself (not letting ego run ahead of him): he engaged with the place in which he felt the most pain, where the 'mind plays games and you start to negotiate with yourself' to give up. It is only practice and preparation that allows the mind to overcome the body and the instinct to survive. By bringing in that part known as 'will' to endure the pain, and push through to realise the dream, we move beyond limiting mindsets. A 1st time participant in this race, and of 2900 competitors he came 400th. He said, "A surreal feelings, only overshadowed by the amount of positive support I got and the possible inspiration I have played in other's lives" to do the same.
As a board, an executive team, a government, or an individual leader, the connection to all who play their part in the whole, without preference or privilege, is so essential to drive that ability to rise up beyond what is, to become more. Are you ready to do the work!