Bouncing Forward – Expanding out of Fear into Conscious Leadership

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you. If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too. If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, or being lied about, don’t deal in lies. Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…” the words of one of our favourite poems, IF by Rudyard Kipling, are a dissertation on the virtues of Conscious Leadership and exemplary adulthood. We love this poem because it celebrates endurance, patience, fortitude and righteousness under extenuating circumstances.

We are in the midst of a monumental transformational process here on our beautiful planet. Recent weeks and months have been both miraculous and full of potential, yet also rife with challenge and difficulty – all at once! Millennia of collective trauma, fear, and wounding is rising up to the surface in order to be healed at this time. In spite of the intensity, we have the power to transmute this energy. You may be surprised at the immense opportunity embedded in this fear. As leaders, we must lean into it – not run away from it – and instead go toward the unknown.

Research is showing that the year 2021 is the worst year on record for wellbeing. People are reporting feeling sadder and more anxious than ever. Isolation, fear, divisiveness, uncertainty, pandemic fear porn at every turn …with all of these factors and more, many of us are struggling. Right now, only 25% of leaders feel that their employees are thriving emotionally and mentally. That’s just one of the shocking findings from Leadership IQ’s Employee Burnout In 2021. The figures also tell us that 71% of leaders expect that high performers are going to quit because of employee burnout. And perhaps most disturbing, 81% of leaders readily admit that they don’t really know how to successfully reduce employee burnout.

Allostatic overload refers to the cumulative impact of chronic exposure to stressful circumstances which can eventually lead to overwhelm and breakdown. Consider the persistence of the pandemic pestilence and fallout, fierce political and racial polarisation, and widening income inequality. Ever more disastrous climate change in the form of extreme heat, wildfires, and drought, alongside tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding. Together, these challenges have prompted a blend of helplessness, uncertainty, fear, and anger which continues to take a toll on our collective mental health, well-being, confidence, and effectiveness. So how do we take better care of ourselves? And how, in turn, do we take better care of each other, including those we lead, manage and influence? As with most things, treating the symptoms is surprisingly straightforward.

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.”
― Jim Morrison

That Four Letter F-Word

The most common reaction in crisis is fear, which narrows our vision and limits our options, prompting us to focus on surviving rather than thriving. In fear we react rather than reflect, we stay safe rather than expand, grow and learn. It’s a zero-sum game. The more energy we feel compelled to spend defending our own value, the faster we become depleted, and the less energy we have available to create value in the world. When we don’t feel good enough, we fall back on several default responses:

  • We double-down on what has worked well for us in the past and fail to recognise that pushing ourselves ever harder ultimately leads to breakdown.
  • We criticise, judge, blame, and shame ourselves for our limitations and shortcomings, which only adds another layer of pressure to our burden.
  • We blame others by projecting our shortcomings onto them in a bid to escape responsibility.
  • We push away vulnerable feelings altogether by denying them or we find ways to numb ourselves with distractions ranging from alcohol and drugs to social media and work itself.

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Are You Really a Complete Jerk?

None of these fear responses work very well, and they all create their own set of negative consequences which compound our problems. Amid these fast-moving and volatile times, how do we enable ourselves to become more purposeful, creative, agile and wise? How do we help our humanity not get overwhelmed by the ever-widening and deepening challenges of the day, and instead consciously adapt and evolve so we thrive amid volatility?

The times upon us are here to wake us up if we so choose.  Waking up is not easy, it can be painful and hard. Waking up requires us to transform the inner self, along with our mindset and worldview.  This is what is now demanded of us, amid this trilemma of social, economic, and environmental crises. Begin by embracing what is and flow acceptance to it. Let’s get real here: the worst things that we feel about ourselves are likely true – often truer than we care to contemplate – but they’re not all that’s true. So you act like a jerk sometimes, particularly when you are tired. It happens. That doesn’t make you a complete jerk. For the most part, you are probably kind and understanding and great at finding creative solutions. You are multidimensional and the more of yourself that you can see and accept, the more choice you have about how to respond.

“Hold yourself back, or heal yourself back together. You decide.”
― Brittany Burgunder

Who is in Charge?

Who do you want running your show? Is it a limited version of who you truly are or do you have a self which is best equipped to create harmony among all the players in your internal orchestra? One way to know is to ask yourself this simple question when you encounter a difficult challenge or conflict: “What would my highest, most compassionate and capable self do right now?”  This self is capable of taking into account all of your gifts, talents, skills and resources. Think for a moment about a time when a child you love was inconsolable and you instinctively responded with your best self. This same self is also capable of caring for the parts of you that feel defensive, overwhelmed, or inadequate. 

Even pre-pandemic, the widespread breakdown of the physical body had become a worldwide health crisis. This makes a profound statement about our lack of pleasure and quality of life. The surfacing of deep emotional and physical pain is a collective expression of a constriction of consciousness, which is based on foundational beliefs of what is and what is not possible. Humanity has developed a collective unconscious fear of having to take care of itself, and this belief creates a direct blockage of power in the body. Physically, the blockage of energy can manifest in a wide variety of patterns that create chaos within the body’s internal systems.

“What we were in the past is not important. What we are now is important. What we intend to make of ourselves in the future is vitally important. The unity between our character and our destiny is inseparable; the connection between our way of thinking and the course of events is unerring.”
― Paul Brunton

Chief Belief-Maker

Beliefs that focus on pain are plentiful, and they appear to be justifiable because of experiences that appear to be real. However, it is the intense focus on the expectation of pain and suffering that actually brings them about. Expectations of pain create patterns of avoidance in the body. As a result, certain events are unconsciously censored, sorted, and filtered through an invisible self-protecting process that strives, sometimes at all possible costs, to avoid painful encounters. Pain becomes the enemy, and taken to the extreme any event becomes suspect. Eventually, with this type of avoidance, the body begins to shut down. The repeated mentally and emotionally fuelled command to avoid pain at all costs ends up overriding the body’s natural intelligence, creating a stubborn obstruction within the field of cellular communication. This blockage may sooner or later be experienced as a diseased or displeasured body part, which is literally indicating where the painful beliefs and emotional issues are being played out.

The cells of your body continuously replace themselves, and in general you do not even think about this process, yet the vital new cells dutifully focus their attention on fulfilling your beliefs and commands. Even though the cells are new, they will keep replicating the same old you, if you keep giving them the same old commands. Your cells, molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles are all intelligent; they communicate with one another because their collective job is to respond to your input. You choose the codes of consciousness that best express your life aims based on the degree of awareness that you have developed. As Chief Belief-Maker, do you send commands that wage war with your own biology based on concealed conflicts? Your body is a repository of everything that you and your ancestral bloodline have experienced – the joys, the pains, the traumas from this lifetime and beyond. Everything is stored in your genes. By learning the art of stillness, you can venture deep within to access this knowledge. In this space you notice song-lines, melodies, lyrics and meaningful undercurrents in the otherwise cacophonic crashing waves and whirlpools of life.

“We often dream about people from whom we receive a letter by the next post. I have ascertained on several occasions that at the moment when the dream occurred the letter was already lying in the post-office of the addressee.”
― C.G. Jung

The Nature of Reality - Synchronicity Key

Rather than volatility and uncertainty, we start to sense signs for sailing through the storm. This secret language shows itself to us as synchronicity. The word ‘synchronicity’ is made up of the word ‘sych’ (to be in tune, or align) and ‘chronos’ (time). To be aligned in time.  To be in accord with the space-time dynamic of life.  This is where wisdom resides. Carl Jung knew the importance of opening up to synchronicity in our developmental journey. His work on synchronicity has largely fallen on deaf ears since – largely because it requires a shift in worldview from separateness/mechanistic to interconnectedness/participatory in order to really understand synchronicity as a vital and pervasive aspect of reality.

You carry varying degrees of unresolved pain about what you believe was done to you – traumas that were never processed and integrated because they were never understood. Such is the game of life that you repeat the same experiences again and again until you develop the greater vision to choose another outcome. Traumatic events create “unfinished business” that must be understood from a larger context in order to be released from the body. Deliberations and agreements to heal are constantly being renegotiated. Healing is dealing and dealing is feeling, and feeling is healing, From a spiritual vista, you make agreements with others, such as: “I will take this issue on with you so that we can heal this unresolved trauma with harmonious resolution.

You have the free will to do what you want. However, you are not free of the consequences of your actions. When you bring harm to yourself or others, you lock yourself into a cycle of cause and effect. You stay locked in this cycle and play out similar scenarios for the purpose of exercising your free will, or changing the outcome by changing your choices. The only way to really learn about your free will is to have what you create return to you. In this way you learn the freedom of free will and also the responsibility to exercise it in harmony with all around you. Existence is kind, interactive, compassionate and just, for this very reason.

“Never allow your ego to diminish your ability to listen.”
― Gary Hopkins

Chief Energy Officer

All healing is reinterpreting what has happened to you. Leaders are effectively “Chief Energy Officers” by virtue of the disproportionate impact they have on the energy of others. To be a great leader in these times requires becoming a bigger human being – one with the capacity to challenge and inspire, and also empathise with and care for those we lead, in all their complexity. Consciousness is awareness, and awareness is the ability to notice. You deny your consciousness when you ignore sensory input or when you do not extend and value your senses.

Truly everything that you seek, you already have at your disposal. However, you must initiate your own emotional archeological dig by honestly identifying and naming your feelings. “I am angry, I am frightened, I am jealous” express feelings common to everyone at some point in life. Once you identify the feeling, you can trace the emotion to the belief that generated it. “I am angry because my parents locked me in a closet when I was little. I am angry because they told me what to do. I am angry because I was violated. I am angry because I did not receive love.” The withdrawal or absence of love is at the root of all pain. When the feedback cycle of give and take, cause and effect is played out, you may well discover that you have to learn how to give love in order to receive it.

“Discomfort is a road sign to point us in another direction. Let it be an ally.”
― Jeanne McElvaney

Emotion - The Two-Mile Long Piano

Wellness involves expressing your feelings in a mature and responsible manner. Your emotions are the most difficult aspect of mastering your biological being for playing the game of life within this system of consciousness. Emotions are like musical renditions being played on a two-mile-long piano. You must learn how to play all of the keys, not merely bang away on a few, or timidly touch the keys, or not venture to play any of them at all. You must affirm that you love yourself; that you have a right to live a pleasant, safe, healthy, and productive life; and that your present circumstances are the result of your own actions. 

Love of self and self-acceptance are critical to conscious leadership because these are the attitudes for creating a positive, rewarding experience with respect to the human body. The more you are able to love yourself, the more you will have to question your choices. If you love yourself, why would you subject yourself to unpleasant, unfulfilling situations? Awareness is the ability to observe and notice what is occurring and them make practical use of your assessments, all of which leads to an expansion of consciousness self-reliance and personal empowerment.

“Nothing can change unless our body and mind are playing on the same team.”
― Poppy Jamie

The Body is Self-Healing

Your body is designed as a self-healing system, it has intelligence, and with proper rest and nourishment it can produce whatever is required to bring about a state of health, once changes in both attitude and activity are engaged. A lack of love and appreciation for your body will be expressed through poor eating habits as well as a general disregard for the very activities that nurture and support optimum health. Your body does not naturally work against you; it is designed to respond to your thoughts and beliefs. Your body thrives on the energy of love that you feel for yourself. You must affirm and act as if you are worthy of your own love, worthy of life, and that life is worth living. This belief, like any other, takes a commitment, and you must want it: you must want what you desire to create more than anything else.

As we engage in our adult developmental journey of transforming ourselves into who we truly are, we learn to integrate different aspects, shadow-sides and subconscious assumptions through inner self-awareness. This journey towards wholeness is an unfolding becoming; a revealing of our deeper truer nature. The language of Self might be used to convey this truer nature within us that can – with practice – emanate more readily through our persona. To use this language: our ego-persona learns to integrate and resonate with our deeper soul-energy. The upshot being a more integrated Self.

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible”

– Dwight D. Eisenhower

6 Strands of Organisational DNA for Conscious Leaders

Conscious Leadership is a way of leading that cultivates life-affirming conditions. It is a shift in consciousness from a reductive/mechanistic way of leading into a systemic/living-systems way of leading that encourages the transformative journey towards regenerative business. This requires a shift in consciousness within yourself first and foremost. This is not just about survival, it’s about thrival. In this way, we can attract and retain high-quality talent, unlock brilliance and innovation, so as to out-perform, adapt and evolve in increasingly volatile times. This is simply good business sense, especially amid a societal shift that seeks a deeper sense of meaning, purpose, engagement, and creativity in the workplace.

Conscious Leaders apply systemic awareness to identify six strands of DNA in living systems culture for organisations to become future-fit in these volatile times. The 6 cultural DNA strands of the living organisation are:

1. Survival and Thrival

Attending to the legitimate needs of organisations to grow while acting in regenerative ways and operating according to the principles of living systems seasons and cycles.

2. Mission and Movement

Ensuring that the organisation is contributing to something bigger than itself, as part of a much larger ecosystem.

3. Developmental and Respectful

Creating space for all to learn and grow in respectful ways, and honouring the needs of self-renewal and regeneration.

4. Diversity and Inclusion

Valuing diverse backgrounds and perspectives as part of an inclusive and values-rich culture that gives rise to new possibilities.

5. Self-organising and Locally Attuning

To unlock resiliency and agility through self-organising principles, as opposed to constantly reverting to top-down leadership.

6. Ecosystemic Facilitation and Transformation

Providing attentive care and understanding of the entire system in which the organisation operates.

“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.”

– James Belasco and Ralph Stayer

Organisations Don't Transform - People Do

There is a specific skill that we need to develop at this time: The skill of leaving behind what is comfortable to us and taking a leap into what feels hardest. We are living in a time that has been prophesied from many different ancient and indigenous cultures all around the world – a time of deep alignment with the larger plan of the cosmos. We are required to shift how we see life and our sense of place and purpose within it. This is deeply personal, yet profoundly universal. It starts with the self and yet informs how we serve others and life as well.

There is a lot we can do at the organisational and systemic level to cultivate conditions for transformation. A lot of our work as conscious leaders is currently focused on helping organisational systems, cultures and structures adapt and evolve post-COVID. Yet it’s worth noting the truth in the old adage ‘organisations don’t transform… people do’; hence the focus here in this article on personal healing and transformation. Know that everything happening right now is all part of a larger plan to awaken us: to strengthen and amplify the frequency of our energetic fields; to help us become crystal clear on exactly what we need to take a stand for; to reveal the structures that need to be dismantled; to help us release all that is illusory or no longer true; to knock us out of our comfort zones and onto our highest path.

“Every being has its own important and unique place in the cosmic dance.”
― Laurence Overmire

A Cycle Much Larger Than Ourselves

Since early 2020, the entire globe has been undergoing a crisis point – all together – all at once. It has been an almost instant global rallying point, affecting everyone. In this way, the pandemic is perhaps more leveling and unifying than anything prior. Billions have been forced to go within, and contemplate their life, their purpose, their mortality, survival, and future path – not only for themselves but for the greater humanity. You can choose to look upon the current events with sadness. You may even feel that you’re missing out on what once was. Or you can choose to elevate and see these times as being incredibly promising, as a tipping point – the great awakening.

As we evolve and rise to the challenge of growing and maturing humanity, we are answering the call of an evolutionary cycle that is much larger than ourselves. It is all together cosmic and is being served upon us by the higher dimensions of light and sound. The sooner that we can open up to this expanded view of reality, and see beyond our purely physical lives to the greater substance and depth which creates the physical, the sooner we can move beyond the current divisive and derailing energy patterns that humanity is repeating. In order to navigate these interesting times, it is crucial for each and every one of us to connect with our heart space. While it may not feel good or calming or easy, it is all happening for a higher purpose. The change we’ve been longing for is happening NOW. So when it feels hard, take comfort. You are exactly where you are meant to be right now. YOU have what it takes.

“A drop of PURE LOVE contains an ocean of transformative power”
― Adiela Akoo

Love is the Way. Love is Always the Way

Our power and how we respond ultimately rests upon a core knowing of who we truly are. Learning to make the most of this time is about being able to adjust to the ebbs and flows in life. We are recreating what we want to see emerge as a collective and in our personal lives. By taking a responsible approach in this transformation we can reach higher states of consciousness and coherence. It’s important to bring everything that is coming up to the light and allow the transformation to occur. In order to be steered in a healthy future direction, it’s imperative to focus on solutions to all of the seeming problems now occurring. If we just complain about what is wrong and fight against it (resisting the forward momentum being created) then the problem becomes stronger and more real. With so much in flux at present, the very fabric of reality is permeable and you can create a future reality that is of your choosing – quickly. You have that much power! You have always had the power. The more focused and determined that you can be, the easier it will be to co-create the lifestyle and experiences that you desire. 

This is your time to be the visionary. Be the leader. The one who sees what others cannot. Be the responsible conscious leader who can take us to a safe and uplifting destination; to a new day, where all will see the light of who they truly are. We are all tasked with doing this. Not just some of us, but all of us. If you are reading these words, YOU are one of the great warriors, one of those who have the courage to hold space and facilitate the massive global awakening of an entire planet. You are meant to play a key and important role in this vast shifting of the tides, and the universe wants you to have all of the support that you need. All of this wisdom is held in your heart. Transmitted to you through your heart. It’s crucial for each and every one of us to connect as closely as possible with our hearts at this time …so we can navigate these changes, both inner and outer, from the highest vibrational frequency of PURE LOVE.

“A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.”
― Ray A. Davis

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