Damn, the last few days have been like a tsunami for most of us!
There is so much fear-worry-anger, many words of wisdom, and funny graphics (TP) flying around all the TV, internet, and social media platforms regarding Covid-19’s invasion into our lives. We humans seem to spew all forms of emotions when struck with significant change that is viewed as unwelcome. This is what happens when we begin the grieving process dealing with any loss or change, so strap in and get ready for the onslaught.
I will add my voice to it all, and act not as a lecturer but as a reminder of all the wisdom and common sense we all know, deep down in our hearts and spirits, is ever-present, awaiting our access.
I am remembering that abrupt change, like hearing about a sudden death, an unexpected job termination, a loved one suddenly leaving you, comes with a fairly predictable pattern we humans follow. We all have just been handed to us a series of changes that have come unexpectedly, all at once, without our involvement or approval. This has significantly impacted our work, economic , and social streams of living. Just watch the news and see how many people are in shock, denial, fear, anger, panic and more. The run on toilet-paper and floods to the grocery and gun stores reveal our acting out in predictable ways to new things thrust upon us.
I want to share or remind you of some wisdom that may help put all of this in perspective. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, M.D., in her groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), outlined the phases of grieving including the emotional and spiritual processing experienced when one learns that they are dying. Her five stages have since been aptly used to describe the process of grieving most any loss or significant change, including that of perceived lifestyles.
I share these five stages with you so you can see where you or others around you might fall. I have found that when I find myself in times of turmoil, I remember the “grieving process curve.” I become more conscious of what’s going on and allow my higher states of wisdom to help me get through what I am experiencing more effectively and healthy.
Take a read and see where you are, have been, and then see what’s ahead for you. Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grieving are:
- Shock & Denial
In this phase, our heart and emotions—rather than our head—rules our belief system as we try to adjust to the idea of life without the person or lifestyle we’re losing. Even though we know what was is over, we really don’t believe it. Against the better judgment of everyone around us we can’t help but entertain the fantasy of returning to our former life. We keep wanting to see hidden glimmers of hope, yet are faced with clear indications that it’s over. (Unsurprisingly, this is the phase where we are most susceptible to late night texting and social media outbursts).
Anger, coupled around fear-worry-doubt, can manifest in many different ways—anger at your ex (“How could they do this to me? Why can’t they stop being selfish?”), anger at God or the Universe (“Why can’t anything ever work out for me? Why am I cursed?”), anger at people or situations associated with the change or break-up (“Anger at the boss or anger that your partner lost their job, because that is when things changed”), and anger at other people who don’t agree or stand with your anger.
This is the phase where we think it’s a great idea to tell anyone and everyone how crazy/unreasonable our ex-boss-government was. This is also when we think it’s crucial to send out hateful emails-texts-social media posts because we don’t know how to contain our emotions.
Bargaining often goes hand in hand with denial. Bargaining can be looking for any possible way to make the old ways work through negotiation, threats, wishing, dreaming or magic—for example, telling your ex that you will change, move, go to therapy. Reminding them of the hurt caused to the children, family, and dog by leaving. Many people bargain with “The Powers That Be,” promising to be a better person if only we can go back to our old way of being.
Depression, like anger, also surfaces in many different forms in people. Feeling tired all the time, not wanting to do anything but lay in bed, feeling disconnected from people even when you’re with them, being on the verge of tears most of the time. Your mind is constantly full of fearful and worrisome thoughts, you have sleep issues, or seek changes in appetite and drug or alcohol use. The most significant and consistent is hopelessness. Hopelessness is the most pervasive and debilitating; it is the thing that leads us to believe that nothing will ever be or feel different than it is right now. Hopelessness makes it feel like you will never move on and that nothing will ever work out for you in the future.
Finally, this is the phase in which we accept what has happened allowing us to make peace with the loss. It doesn’t always come on suddenly, it often happens gradually interspersed with some of the other phases. Acceptance doesn’t always involve harmony and ease —there is almost certain to be some lingering sadness. Acceptance entails making peace with the loss, letting go of the relationship or what was and slowly moving forward with your life. Sometimes it feels like this phase will never come which usually means you’re still struggling in an earlier phase.
I hope this sheds some light on your current emotional condition and that of others. Maybe this will help you lighten your load, go easier on yourself and others, and just allow all this to pass without unnecessary pain and suffering. If you find this of benefit share it with others in your sphere of influence. Lean on others and share what’s going on inside you, and be there to listen to them as they share their plight with you. In this way we can all be there, more present and compassionate for each other which I believe will be the greatest gift of this huge, but temporary challenge.
In this blog and the next few I want to discuss what I think is one of the most significant unspoken topics we face in the world of business today. The topic centers around the chronically high level of disengagement we have historically in our organizations since Gallop started tracking it 35 years ago.
The figures are very telling. Gallop reports three areas of what they call Employee Engagement (EE):
– Employees who are Engaged in their work, meaning they regularly report an affinity for the type of work they do, are satisfied with their direct boss/manager, and have a positive connection to their organization as a whole.
– Employees who are Not Engaged in their work, are those who while may be somewhat satisfied where they work, are yet not mentally or emotionally connected to their work, their boss, or their workplace.
– Employees who are Actively Disengaged in their work, meaning that they are unhappy, unfulfilled, or just have miserable work experiences and they go out of their way to not work, interfere with others who are working, bad-mouth the organization whenever possible, excessively miss work or are tardy, and play the system.
I have been tracking EE for decades, and the percentages of each category amount to the following:
– The percentage of Engaged Employees has averaged around 30% of American workers. This has been rising slightly over the past 3 years and now sits at 34%, measured monthly. The higher number today is due to 10 years of a good economy – when looking back in the late 2000’s it dropped well into the 20% range.
– The percentage of Actively Disengaged workers has been hovering around 20% historically, while lately it’s dropped to 16%, mainly due to same economics.
– That leaves the Not Engaged. This group seems to be stuck at about 50% of all workers.
This means that about 70% of all U.S. workers, including management, are not fully engaged at work!
What a tragic loss for all of us!
Now data is data, but when we take a high-level view of this, what stands out for me are a two key things. One is that over the past 40 years we have been on a binge in the areas of management and leadership development. Look at the exponential rise in the number of books, MBA programs, seminars and learning programs on these two topics. One would think that would have moved the engagement needle a bit more that we witness. Unfortunately not!
The second takeaway is how many people are suffering, stressing, and wasting precious time, while at work! I include ALL levels of workers, from the lowest levels of the org chart to the C-Suite. I have witnessed the various levels of disengagement all my working career, and have seen the short and long term devastating effects unengaged and actively disengaged people suffer, which include: stress, health issues, difficulty sleeping, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, unable to relax or concentrate, difficulty thinking logically and making decisions, and low levels of happiness or satisfaction.
Conversely I see the negative impacts disengagement has on our organizations, driving lower levels of creativity, effectiveness, productivity, sustainability and profitability. These include: increasing absenteeism, increasing staff turn-over, impairing performance and productivity, increasing unsafe working practices and accident rates, increasing complaints from clients and customers, adversely affecting staff recruitment, increasing liability to legal claims and actions by stressed workers, and damaging the organization’s image both among its workers and externally
All of us at work need to raise our levels of awareness around the word ENGAGEMENT.
If you are an employee, ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10:
– How engaged am I at work?
– How much I love the work that I do?
– How much do I like my co-workers?
– How do I get along with my direct supervisor?
– How much respect do I have for my supervisor?
– How much do I respect the leadership of my organization?
– How much do I resonate with my organization’s statement of vision/mission/purpose?
– Am I willing to take full responsibility for my level of engagement in my work?
And, ask yourself: If I am significantly unengaged, what am I willing to do about it? If I am really unhappy, am I willing to find another opportunity where I will feel more fully alive at work?
If you are a manager or leader, in addition to the above questions, ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10:
– How engaged do you think your direct reports are?
– How do you know if your employees are engaged or not?
– What do you think you can do to elevate awareness on Employee Engagement with your team?
– Are you willing to receive feedback that you may be the reason some of your people are disengaged?
– If you are the reason some of your people feel disengaged, are you willing to make needed changes?
As a leader you may want to take these questions to your people and open up a new thread of dialog that will ultimately help you make a number of positive changes.
EE is a two way street. Leadership needs to do what it can to get better connected with their employees, know what is needed to provide an engaged culture, develop leaders to keep a high-awareness level around engagement, and make employee engagement a strategic priority. Employees need to look within and determine their own engagement levels, what they need to change in their thinking and behaviors to get better connected, or to stop causing their own and others suffering and find employment elsewhere.
Unengagement /disengagement are toxins that none of us, nor our workplaces, deserve or can sustain. My bet is if we all can boost employee engagement then we can sit back and watch how higher, better, faster, more innovative-productive-cost effective our organizations will become, which will open up new possibilities for making work much more meaningful and prosperous for all!
A new year brings new things into focus for me. As I reflect over the past few years and decades I love to put things into prospective. What is evident as I ponder on the topic of leadership is that so many are stuck in the old, outdated ways of managing people. We still rely too heavily on what I call the “default” ego-driven style of interacting and directing people at work. After 40 years of heavy attention, emphasis and new information about better ways to lead people we still haven’t been able to increase the aggregate measured levels of employee engagement, according to both Gallop and Carnegie. An unforgiving 70% of employees are still disengaged at work – at a time where we need all hands on deck, fully engaged, giving their all willingly and effectively.
The one way out of this disengagement quagmire is through what I call developing more “Elite Leaders.” These men and women have and are awakening to new truths and realities within their own mental, emotional and spiritual aspects about who they truly are. They are choosing to show up in their leadership roles in more authentic ways, which translates into more engagement between them and their people. While still fewer in number, we are gaining and my hope is that soon this better version of leading people will be the standard.
Elite leaders know the way to true success is to become and be their highest and best selves, in turn helping their people do the same under their mentorship and guidance. They know when authenticity, caring, openness, honesty, lived values and a higher purpose are present everyone involved is much more alive, effective, productive, collaborative and creative. This increased energy is directed at running a much higher performing organization benefiting all stakeholders.
In my life-long journey to better understand the art and science of leading people I have identified twelve distinct phases /stages of being what I term “An Elite Leader.” Elite leaders combine: high skill sets of being effective business people in their areas of expertise: a deep level of self-awareness, both of their internal states and of how they impact their exterior world and relationships; with an ability to orchestrate various stakeholders to align, engage and drive the vision and purpose of the organization for the benefit and prosperity of all.
I invite you to look at these twelve as doorways into the same house. You are the house, as both a person and a leader. These twelve doors open into rooms that make up who you are, aspects of you and what you have to offer. When your doors are open you are more fully developed, connected and expressing your authentic self, thus allowing your own unique authentic leadership style to be revealed. Life is always more rich, full, joyful and meaningful when we come to it as our authentic self. As an elite, authentic leader you are much more effective in helping others realize who they are, adept at creating safe spaces where trust is built, and foster cultures of highly aligned, engaged human beings working toward outcomes from which all stakeholders can benefit.
- Personal Perception. Self-awareness is the cornerstone to living consciously, intentionally, authentically. How do we wake up, access, assess, and get real with ourselves first? How can we move beyond the bounds of ego-centric living and see the deeper layers of who we are?
- Presence. How do we stay more in the present moment, more mindful, and not allow our thoughts and emotions to hijack us back into the past we can’t change, or thrust us into the future that hasn’t happened yet?
- Past Presumptions. Our beliefs, fears, and shadows drive so much of our life. Have we taken time to self-reflect on the current validity and truth of what has been programmed into us from past experience in the light of our current levels of maturity, awareness and reality?
- Principles. Values and virtues drive our motivations, character and behaviors. Are you aware of your core values, which virtues you adhere to, and how you express them in your daily life? Does your team and organization live by their defined core values?
- Passion. Most people think passion is something that is done with the soul intention of gaining enjoyment. Consider for a moment that you, your whole being, when fully alive and expressed as your authentic self is passion manifested. What would life be like if you felt more alive, connected and fulfilled?
- Purpose. Do you have a sense of what your life has been and is all about? Do you feel compelled to follow a certain path? Is a vocation calling you? Life lived with purpose, on purpose, offers infinite levels of joy, fulfilment, connection and prosperity.
- Perspective. When we lift our sights above the moment-to-moment, day-by-day reactivity, quiet our thoughts, and set new desires and intentions for life lived better, a new vision develops. When we can see more clearly and in ways that allow others to obtain benefit our authentic leadership has a healthy compass by which to engage others. This leads to deeper, more effective and prosperous activities.
- People. When we expand our own levels of consciousness about ourselves we can effectively translate that wisdom into how we see, interact and lead others. Understanding human nature is a huge component to being an authentic leader. Knowing what makes people tick, how they can communicate and relate to each other in more effective ways is such a powerful tool to express how much you care.
- Process. Life is all about systems interacting with each other. Patterns of thought, mechanics of motion, flow of energy-things-people, rules, regulations and more compose the almost infinite systems that run our lives. As we enhance our abilities to see beyond what’s right in front of us, when we can get ‘above the trees’ so to speak and see how people and systems intertwine we can begin to conceive new healthy, productive, sustainable alternatives.
- Power. When more than one of us comes together in an atmosphere of trust, safety, caring and connection, people are given the opportunity for their own personal and professional growth. As your people connect to their own unique aspects of authenticity, they will be so much more effective at problem-solving, conflict-resolution, working collaboratively while meeting/exceeding expectations.
- Prosperity & Proliferation. As Elite, authentic leaders, how can we help all our stakeholders benefit from their interaction with us, our team, and our organizations? How can we help spread the healthy, sustainable aspects of doing business ‘for good’ while enjoying the fruits of such?
- Peace. People everywhere share the same desires: to live life in peace, contentment, well-being, with happiness, joy and connection to others. Elite leaders know this and keep these outcomes top-of-mind as they interact with people and make decisions that affect stakeholders.
Join me on the journey to exploring, learning and mastering these 12 aspects of Elite Leadership. Let me know your thoughts and questions and let’s see how we can be of service to each other as we tap into the unlimited wealth of the human spirit!
“When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves” . . . Lao Tzu
I have come to know the reason why we humans don’t meet our goals; we hold other beliefs, often hidden beliefs, that are stronger and in conflict with our new intentions. Hoping for a new outcome is a scenario doomed to failure, given how our mental and emotional systems are composed, when we have conflicting beliefs held within.
Wikipedia says “Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty. Another way of defining belief is seeing it as a mental representation of an attitude positively oriented towards the likelihood of something being true.”
Beliefs are mental positions one chooses after experiencing some life event(s) and then makes that new belief their own. Over time that belief typically cements into a person’s values and worldview, where those beliefs in essence become one’s “facts.”
Our thoughts and beliefs color our perception of the world. They determine our actions, inactions, feelings, and behaviors. It is said that whatever you believe becomes your reality. You do not believe what you see; you see what you believe. This is why people facing the same situation see things so differently. Author Rick Carson, in his book Taming Your Gremlins, says, “Beliefs, even the noblest of them, are just opinions that we develop loyalty to.”
In essence then, beliefs are what we make up with or without the support of data, facts or truth! We all have beliefs about who we are, how life is/should be, about religious and political and social issues. Many beliefs are there because we ‘feel’ a certain way about something, with no real basis in fact, or trust in the sources of those facts.
This political season so highlights for me how the power of beliefs operate. Not only do we humans stick to our beliefs when presented facts or other opinions that refute them, we shut ourselves off from truly listening to outside sources that have opposing views, therefore deepening our resolve to hold on to what we believe. In this case our beliefs have become our identities, our biases, our prejudices, personas, and we form opinions that protect these from others who don’t share our viewpoints. This results in stalemates at best, or conflicts in their myriad of forms.
A large number of psychological studies have shown that people respond to new information, scientific, or technical evidence in ways that justify their preexisting beliefs. In other words, people reject the validity of a new data source because its conclusion contradicted their deeply held views. People believe what they believe, and often there is no hard data or facts to support them.
I use this visual to show how thoughts, feelings and beliefs manifest our reality:
Experience → Feelings → Thoughts → Interpretations → Response → Result → Story → Belief → Behavior
Our beliefs drive our behaviors, and limiting/hidden beliefs are the biggest barriers to success. We form beliefs to make sense of our world. Early beliefs were formed around our parents, family, and the immature decision-making skills of our youth. We often interpreted things happening around us and began to think the following:
– I’m not good enough, have no value
– I’m not needed
– I don’t matter, what I say doesn’t matter
– I’m not important
– I’m bad
– I’m wrong
– I’m a loser
– People who are _____ are wrong, bad, scary, out to harm me.
We also interpreted events in our world over time, and developed biases and prejudices about people of other sexes, races, religious and political affiliations, and more. These then become solidified as our truth about the world and people unconsciously driving our thinking and behaviors today.
Before you set yourself up for probable failure in setting new goals for yourself you might want to look to the source of what drives you. Are there are any beliefs that are counter to the life you envision and desire for yourself? Reflect on what you believe, what is your current truth, how did you arrive at these beliefs? Will they will serve you along your life’s journey?
I had to constantly take stock of my most revered beliefs and truths every time I was faced with new ideas or facts. I had to look at what was before me, how it resonated within, and determine what was needed for me to shift my thinking. Once new truths were accepted, the old had to be let go to integrate the new into my system of understanding. Beliefs do not seem to go quietly or without discomfort. Many times this created conflict, which required delving deeper into the strata of my mind.
I often ask these questions of myself and my coaching clients to help root out limiting beliefs:
Are your beliefs still serving you? Is this belief ____ still true for you?
What new information, data, and facts are you being presented with that cause an internal rub within you?
What prejudices and biases do you hold onto, and are they still true in all cases?
Where have you formed opinions that seem to project from you without you even thinking? Do they still represent the way you want to live your life?
What belief, opinion, bias, or prejudice do you now see that is no longer always true? Would you like to remove it from your thinking?
To get beyond the choke-hold of old beliefs and begin living the life you envision requires the following:
- Set a new intention, desire, or goal.
- Identify the beliefs you have about accomplishing it.
- Identify the beliefs you have that run contrary to it, are of a limiting nature, or are hidden that will sabotage it from manifesting.
- Eliminate the belief, consciously and continuously, by seeing the belief, where it came from, what it has cost you, what emotions it arouses. Allow that to flow through and out of you without any self-judgment / shame / condemnation.
- Replace them with thoughts, feelings and new beliefs that allow you to manifest what you desire.
We can challenge our beliefs and biases whenever they show up. We can reject any thoughts of limitations or exclusion, and replace them with a positive stream of thinking which starves them and forces them to wither and die. Self-help guru Jim Rohn said, “You cannot take a mild approach to the weeds in your mental garden. You have got to hate the weeds enough to kill them. Weeds are not something you handle; weeds are something you need to decimate.”
It always comes down to choice – if you really want to manifest new things in your life that go against the grain of your current beliefs, you have to choose to eliminate the old beliefs first. That takes self-reflection and a desire to see your own patterns, make peace with them, yourself and let them go. Only then can you freely go about making your new intentions your reality!
We can implement the following steps to live a more positive, loving, authentic life:
New Thoughts → New Positive Feelings → New Beliefs → New Attitude → Different Actions → Desired Results!
I found this quote very helpful:
“You can’t escape from a prison until you recognize you are in one. People who have chosen to live within the limits of their old beliefs continue to have the same experiences. It takes effort and commitment to break old patterns” . . . Bob Proctor
We often wonder why things are the way they are, and why change is so difficult – even when we see that the way things are need to improve. If you look at human history, change may take a few moments, days, years, decades or centuries. We can shift our realizations and perspectives in an instant, or choose to hold on to old beliefs and behavior patterns for generations.
A paradigm is a framework of a person, group or society that contains the basic assumptions, beliefs, ways of thinking and living, and the methodologies for decision-making that are commonplace and acceptable by the members of that community or culture. Throughout history, we have had major evolutionary shifts, from the hunter-gatherer to the agrarian, empire-building paradigms. The Renaissance, Industrial and Scientific Revolutions have brought us to current time. Within those macro paradigms we also have had many other paradigms that are woven into our societies and ways-of-thinking.
Consider for a moment the impact, benefits, liabilities and challenges-to-change the following four paradigms present:
– Patriarchy. This is defined as being attached to the ideals, perspectives and beliefs that men hold a superior place to women.
– Elitism. We see this in many areas, from those who were born into privilege to those where race and family heritage set the hierarchy for a society. In recent times we see it in how we are judged and valued based on our economic capacity to make money, and the rank and role we hold in an organization.
– We live in a mechanical Universe. Where material/stuff is considered prime to all life and things. Where it appears as if all of life, including humans, work like machines, separate and composed as dispensable parts of bigger mechanisms.
– We are our DNA. The “I am as I was born” mindset. From this perspective we just accept our lives, things and systems as a consequence of birth, almost with a ‘fait accompli’ attitude. Life just is what it is, I am who I am, and nothing can change that.
While we can discuss, even argue about the effects these and other paradigms have had on the human condition, our systems of economics and politics, and the planet. I want us to see that these were all based on patterns of human thinking. At some point we came to these conclusions, and just like all beliefs, a group of people in the past got accustomed to these ways of looking at the world and of making sense in their lives. Decisions were made, successful outcomes (win vs. losing, being right vs. wrong) were realized, and over time they just became people’s ‘truth’ and ways of living. Whether we agree with them or not, they are an integral aspect of our existence.
Take some time and reflect on these few paradigms of thought, beliefs and cultural patterns and how they play out within you your life. Gain a greater perspective on how those patterns of thinking may have come about and how long-ago life conditions called them into existence. See where there are ways to agree and affirm the benefits of such thinking, as well as see the dark-side and the detriments. Allow yourself to get real with your own patterns and habits of thinking-believing-behaving to see how they have played out in your life in the defining who you think you are. Observe how these paradigms play in the way you interact with others, both in relationships and as a member of various communities. See where your thinking has served you, as well as prevented you from living life from more of your own authentic choosing.
Truth often gets mixed with beliefs, preferences or opinions. A truth to me means it is true in all situations, so as I have looked at these paradigms and have been brutally honest with myself. I saw how they played parts in my own development. This ‘getting real’ with myself has helped me to open up my mind, let in contrarian-to-current-paradigm thinking that has allowed me to see how the opposite of each can be positively experienced and lived. Being able to appreciate the power and energy of the feminine; the letting go of biases and prejudices; observing the pain from fear of limitations and lack; seeing how everything in life has a ripple effect on everything else. I have experienced how my own desires and intentions for personal growth have led to positive changes that made me more open, more accepting, more effective, and more fulfilled. Once I let go of my own attachments to past paradigms and old truths, I was able to see what is true, right, beautiful and meaningful to me, and that has made all the difference in my life.
It’s like the saying “what got me here won’t get me there,” and I can now see that our current reality needs not just one but many paradigm shifts. See how shifts in thinking allows new data, experiences and realities to shed light adding to and expanding current experiences, or just destroy old paradigm patterns of thinking that no longer serve our highest and best good.
I invite you to explore how paradigms have impacted your life, and have made you who you are. Let me know how shifts in your own thinking have brought about positive changes in you! My sense is that more people are waking up and are open to looking at the world and their lives through new lenses. When enough people start seeing things anew, new things can come about. Shift can happen over a lifetime, or it can happen in a split second – you determine the speed of change!
All change begins in the hearts, minds and souls of people.
Shift the way you see the world and the world will shift!
Being a more conscious, self-aware person will enhance your ability to get along with others and be a more effective elite leader. Self-awareness is the gateway into our own authenticity, our own unique selves, whereby we show up in our relationships reflecting our own highest truth.
In order to get to our own truth and authenticity, introspection, reflection, deep questioning, and honest evaluation are required. Tapping into your “inner voice” will reveal your own truths to you. To reach a higher level of honest self-awareness, we also must take into account there are “multiple voices” inside our head often vying for the alpha position in our minds.
We have many beliefs, stories, values, morals, and fears that have been passed onto us from many sources. Parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, teachers, clergy, books, TV, heroes, villains, and more. They have all shared their beliefs, stories, values, morals and fears with us, intentionally and unintentionally. By the time we become adults we have taken on so much of other peoples’ stuff that we become a mirror of what we have been exposed to without even consciously thinking about it anymore. At the same time that inner voice that is and has always been there gets drowned out more and more by the noise of what others think we should think, do and say.
Consider for a moment that we have three levels of awareness available to us: two halves of Ego (the Healthy and the Negative), and an Authentic Self. The ego is our default, hard wired survival program. Ego looks out for our survival, our sustenance, and our ability to get around. It sees the world as two centers, one as itself and the other is everything outside it. Feeling apart and needing to survive, succeed, and progress, it seeks to keep us safe, free from danger, and able to thrive.
The unhealthy aspects of ego keep us mired in some form of fear-based thinking. Whether experiencing sadness, anger, depression, blaming, regret, despair, unworthiness, disappointment or hate from things in the past – or worry, anxiety, pessimism, frustration, doubt, overwhelm, insecurity or powerlessness from things not yet manifested in the future. Unhealthy ego keeps our consciousness below the level of active self-awareness. When we are focused on the past or the future we have no room to be present. These are the “other voices” we listen to, and they often scream so loud and kick up our emotional states to such a frenzy we don’t allow our higher-self much room to show-up and offer its wisdom.
A healthy aspect of ego is the in-between state of the unhealthy and our authentic selves. This blossoms when we mature and see that living from unhealthy ego has its limits, creates too much pain, and doesn’t provide the better things in life most of us seek. As we learn to grow and develop the healthy aspects of ego life takes on more positive flavors, and improved relationships and results are realized. This takes a good deal of effort, and is accomplished through some form of personal or professional development, over time, and also just by being more open to the life-lessons that constantly come to us.
My hope for all leaders is to see that a wider field of awareness can be sought, developed and expressed within everyone. Each of us experience some level of our authentic selves, we call these “peak” moments. We experience this moments during our days and yet get pulled back into ego consciousness far too often. In these peak moments is where our higher self is most active; it allows a more dynamic level of awareness to look at people, issues, and life in ways most of us deeply desire, and allow our better faculties to arise when dealing with the challenges of leading an organization.
The chart below may help you visualize these three levels of awareness, how they reveal where our awareness typically resides, and how we bounce between states, often automatically without any conscious thinking. See which words and states speak to you, reflect back to you, and see where your awareness spends its time. You’ll have bouts of time in each section, and only you get to determine what’s real and true for you, and what you’d like to see improved.
Leadership attitudes and behaviors can be separated into these three levels of awareness as follows:
Unhealthy Ego Awakening Ego Elite/Conscious
Autocratic Achiever Integrative
Authoritarian Collaborative Systems
Dictatorial Democratic Self-leading teams
Directive Empowering Inspirational
Domination Strategic Mastery
Obedience Trust Align & Engage
Self-esteem Self-actualization Service
Individual Team Stakeholder Focus
Directive Coach Entrusting
Push Attract Resonance
Reject Recognize Rejoice
Contractual Covenant Trust
Tolerate Appreciate Love
This is such a huge subject and we are only scratching the surface. I want to share what I have learned and still learning about consciousness and my own levels of awareness. We will refer to ego and authentic self as we dialog about consciousness and conscious leadership over time giving us a context for future conversations.
It’s up to each of us who desire to push our leadership capacities to higher levels being open to adding and expanding our own awareness. Let me know your thoughts on this and let’s help each other learn, grow and evolve into the highest level, best people and leaders possible!
Headline – Employee Engagement in the workplace has experienced zero improvement over the last 40 years!
Using engagement as a measurement of productivity and effectiveness, Gallup reports on average, only 30% of employees have been engaged at work over the past 18 years.*. This statistic has been fairly consistent over many years, even decades, in spite of the massive amount of focus on leadership through the thousands of books published and the proliferation of MBA programs. We are not moving the needle toward progress and are thereby stuck.
Basically, 70% of Americans at work (150 million) don’t really want to be working at their present place of employment, so they only do the bare minimum to keep their jobs. Worse yet, they are the toxic employees who negatively infect their workplace. This is a failure of leadership.
Is this really the best we can do? Are there ways to turn these uninspiring statistics around? The answer is yes, but there is work to be done.
The way ahead is through bringing on the next paradigm when thinking about the nature of people, work, and how we come together to make things happen. This new paradigm has already begun in many organizations. While still far too few in number statistically, this has been changing over the past 20 years as more and more leaders are stepping into their own authenticity, are expanding their own levels of self-awareness, and are showing up in their roles more powerfully.
The current paradigm in business and work, which has been around for the last 200 years, is centered on an “ownership-management” paradigm. Our system places the needs of the owners and those at the upper levels of management in first-position. While the current paradigm has been at the fore-front of countless improvements, and has driven prosperity upward while reducing poverty, it also has its short-comings. It is based on a belief system that sees scarcity and limits all around, believes the most-fit should survive, winners should take all, and (s)he who puts their own money at risk should reap the rewards.
The level of consciousness of the conditioned self (ego) of this paradigm is driven by greed, the need for more, and protecting what’s one’s own. Egoism in the management ranks is focused on control and power, is mistrusting of people, and also seeks to further self-interests. Ego at the employee level centers on many forms of fear, as in the fear of losing one’s job should an employee displease the boss.
This paradigm, while the creator of so many great things in our lives and world, is also limiting the human spirit from becoming more fully aware, more alive, more authentic – and more engaged. The results of this paradigm give us unacceptably low levels of employee engagement in all industries and areas of work.
The new leadership paradigm is driven by authentic leadership. It comes from a higher level of awareness that has at its center the “primacy of the human being.” This transformational perspective integrates the four key aspects of being human: the physical needs, mental strengths, emotional dynamics, and our spiritual capacities. People are not seen as means to an end, they are valued as partners, and are invited into the flow of information and decision-making. Ego gives way to authenticity, and people are welcomed to more fully ‘show-up’ at work, where their personal values, passions, gifts and sense of purpose come alive. This aliveness allows them to offer more of themselves voluntarily and delivers higher levels of focus, effort, and outcomes. When people align with their organization’s sense of mission and culture, they naturally, easily become more engaged, giving more of themselves and being of higher service to the organization’s stakeholders.
It is time for a new vision for our places of work, driven by elite leaders who are ready to transform the way we do business and work together. Are you an Elite Leader? Are you ready to become one? Join me in this work – it will be the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do!
* Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Through Gallup Daily tracking, Gallup categorizes workers as “engaged” based on their responses to key workplace elements it has found that predict important organizational performance outcomes. Over nearly two decades, the annual percentage of engaged U.S. workers has ranged from a low of 26% in 2000 and 2005 to the recent six-month high of 34% in 2018. On average, 30% of employees have been engaged at work during the past 18 years.
Recently I have been challenged by three different people (a friend, a coach, a seminar leader) by the question: “What do I now stand for, what is my one cause?” Or said more directly, “What’s the one cause that I am willing to put all my life in to, and at risk for, it’s successful realization?
What is coming up for me, in how to begin to answer this question, is connecting with the intersection of the answers to – What am I most drawn to? Above all else what do I deeply value? What fuels my fire?
In essence – What am I willing to commit myself to 100%?
How can I take my root values: Understand & Evolve; Relieve Suffering; Improve the Human Condition; Natural Beauty; Joy/Aliveness; Authenticity. And fully intertwine my most meaningful sense of purpose: Being Awake and Connected to All of Life. All directed at the one thing I have been most drawn to: Expanding Loving Leadership for All?
This is consuming my consciousness this holiday season.
What would you say your answer is to the Big Question?
A new year dawns, and it’s a great time to sit back and ask yourself “How will I grow myself, what areas can I work to self-improve, what do I need to do to become who I want to be?
Too often people make their new year’s resolutions about things they want to do, places to go, or things to get. We continue to pursue things that we think will make us satisfied, successful or happy. Yet, most of this activity is simply a grand waste of time – and leaves us just a bit more cynical and jaded year after year. If you’ve ever analyzed why you don’t achieve the goals you set, or realized why the career or financial aspirations you want haven’t materialized, or still lack the depth of joyful relationships you desire, you probably see that something within yourself is preventing you from achieving what you say you want. Trying harder, working more, pushing, forcing, hoping – none will ultimately get you where you want to be.
If you want to live a better life, have better things, enjoy better relationships – it looks like you’ll have to become a better version of yourself first!
To cut right to the heart of this issue, we must first BE the best version of who we are as a human being. Before we are human ‘doings’ and human ‘havings,’ we are utmost human ‘beings.’ We are who we have been, and while that may feel like that’s a life-sentence for the rest of our lives, we can alter who we are by getting in touch with our deepest, most authentic nature. We can evolve and become better, and that will require tapping into your innate consciousness/wisdom, and being brutally honest with yourself. To grow, in essence, is to shed those parts of you that are/were never really true, and be open to see yourself honestly without ego, judgment, shame or fear.
I have myself, and with coaching clients, used the following lists, questions and exercises to help with the self-evolution process. Take a look and see if any of these can be of service to you!
Expand Your Self-Awareness
There are countless resources out there on any of these areas listed below, and lots of teachers, books and programs are available. I suggest pick the one or two that resonates most with you right now and dig into yourself through them:
- Mindfulness Practice
- Assessing Limiting Beliefs
- Understanding the Ego & Assessing Fear Patterns
- Contemplation & Observation
- Self-Study, Spiritual Practice
- Values, Passion, Strengths and Purpose Definition
These will help you improve the way you live your life, particularly in getting along with others and setting new directions in your life:
- Coaching: Personal, Life
- Emotional Healing
- Releasing Attachments
- Group Work
- Personal Assessments
- Physical Practices
- Vulnerability Work
Improve Professional Mastery
Since we all need to work, finding the right outlet for your unique gifts is a big undertaking, yet a most meaningful endeavor:
- Find the intersection where your Values, Passion, Gifts, Personal Purpose align with an organization that welcomes your unique contributions and allows for your full engagement in the effort.
- Take up a new study either at a college or on-line program that helps you expand in new areas.
- Coaching: Professional one-on-one, or join a Peer-group program.
- Consider taking on a new role or business opportunity that allows you to stretch yourself.
Deepen Your Relationships
- Make a list of 10 people you most want to have a better relationship. Look at where you see new possibilities with them. Take ownership of what’s happened in the past, and let go of old interpretations and stories you built up that created distance between you both. Find where you are deeply grateful for them, and then use forgiveness to free you from any past shackles. Then reach out in your most loving way, reconnect with heart and soul, and stay present to them.
- Make a list of people you want to establish a new relationship. Take note about them that you admire, and see what you can bring to this relationship. Then go and make that happen!
- Stay present to the relationship you have with yourself. Take care of your physical body, keep your mind active on things that interest you, face emotions and share your feelings, and develop the unseen parts of your human spirit.
Broaden Your Leadership Capacity
- We all are leaders, at least of our own lives. Many have the role as owner, manager, boss, supervisor, yet few are true leaders. Leaders inspire others to bring more of themselves than they thought was possible. Are you a leader? Ask yourself a few questions:
– Do I really like people, being around them, helping them get what they need to get things done?
– Can I see a bigger picture of what we are doing and help others see that as well?
– Do I think about what I can do to expand my ability to care for others?
– Am I truly interested in others succeeding?
- Leadership capacities you may want to develop are you being more: inspirational, insightful, intuitive, non-forcefully persuasive, flow-oriented, integrative, visionary, strategic, coach/mentor, stakeholder-oriented, and system-oriented.
- True leaders are men and women who are more self-aware and conscious about themselves and others around them. They are awakening to new truths, open to grow, learn, change, set on changing themselves, concerned about making ethical choices, becoming more open and transparent, better at developing trust, being more responsible and accountable, developing emotional intelligence, learning what triggers them and work to reduce effects of emotional hijack, cleans up messes better, learning to be more effective at confrontation and problem-solving, and open to being coached and mentored.
Einstein is often quoted that “we cannot resolve a problem at the level of thinking that created it.” I say we cannot resolve our problems by sticking to being the same person we always have been.
The opportunity for real change is before us – and it doesn’t require us to “do” or “get” anything new or hard. It requires us to shed who we are not – all the fears, beliefs, masks, stories, pretenses – that we have come to define ourselves as, and step into our own natural, authentic power. Only then can we BE the person we want to be, can then DO the things we know need done, so we can HAVE the positive results and life we know we desire and deserve.
It takes work, in this case lots of self-reflection, honesty, vulnerability, patience, and desire to allow oneself to be your authentic self. While the path isn’t easy, it is the most rewarding one you’ll ever walk. Some of this is done alone, and some with others. My hope is that you find worthiness within yourself to make you a priority in 2017, and beyond. The price you’ll pay for not evolving is far too high. Aren’t you worth it? Aren’t your loved ones worth the effort? Isn’t your mark on the world worth you playing full out?
Your life awaits – I hope you grab all of it!
Be the you that’s in there, and then be the change in your life so you can live your life to its fullest!