There is one nuclear power behind all great leaders and this power is not what you ‘think.’
Ask most executives, ‘Is leadership critical to the success of your venture?’ The answer is ‘yes!’ And each year, leadership rises as the number one talent development needs for corporations. This is according to Deloitte’s latest ‘Human Capital Trends Report.‘ We all know why. Leadership maximizes value creation, retains talent and builds brands that are the envy of others. In short, we see leadership for what it gives us. However, rarely peel back the layers to see the seed from which leadership sprouts these outcomes.
Certainly your intelligence or your business savvy are critical. However,these abilities emerge from something far more subtle yet transformative. This nuclear power is your very awareness. However, when it comes to awareness, we are like fish in water. We can not live without awareness but we take it for granted. Because we do not tend to notice awareness most of the time, we do not build a conscious relationship with it. Now one’s awareness may not sound like a nuclear power. However, without it you would have no experience to speak of. When you stop taking this power for granted and get to know it – your game will raise to a whole new level. Every client I have had who realizes this found this to be true. So why all this fuss over self-awareness?
Ultimately expanding self-awareness is about building a relationship with the one who is already aware. And this presence is within you. Awareness is always in the background observing everything that happens in the foreground. From the time that you wake up in the morning till you drop off to sleep, the outer world – made up of people, objects, and situations quickly grab your attention. When you go to work, this happens on steroids as the pressures of the job, meetings, emails, ‘good’ and ‘bad’ news engage your attention outward. Your attention is one of your greatest faculties. This is because what you focus on (or give our attention to) tends to expand and direct your actions and reactions. However, as we continuously direct our attention outward and away from its source (awareness), we begin to burn out, and over time our creativity suffers.
This sense of burning out is why we love dead sleep and because when we are in a deep sleep, we forget everything for several hours and recharge. However, we do not have to rely only on sleep to restore our energy and focus. We can reconnect with the background of awareness anytime we desire – if we learn how to do so and then practice it. The ability to reconnect to consciousness happens anytime we meditate, do Tai Chi, engage some mindfulness practice in the middle of our work day or even just take a walk and breath. All these ‘practices’ have the potential to recharge our batteries, and they also open us up to our intuitive abilities. The connection to our intuitive, creative side points to yet another value of reconnecting to awareness.
I have mentioned in earlier posts, how recent breakthroughs in the neurosciences have shown that 95% of the time human beings are on autopilot. This means that 95% of the time you are habitually paying attention to the same things, over and over again. The basis of most of our day is ‘rinse and repeat.’ As we engage our past, to make decisions about our future. It is important to remember that everything that has ever happened to you, including your interpretation of those experiences, is stored in your subconscious. And these memories directly affect your thoughts, actions and decision making. And this influence on your decision making is always happening below the level of your consciousness.
On the one hand, your habitual nature serves you quite well, especially when it comes to your business acumen and expertise. Your successes and the lessons that have come from failing to provide a rich database. This database filters current events and allows you to make sound decisions in your life and for the organization you serve. However, there are other habits can get in our way of successfully leading others. Such habits create barriers to innovation and minimize your ability to collaborate with others.
It is such people skills that set the best leaders apart from average to poor leaders. Habits are ways of thinking and behaving that we no longer question. It is because of this human tendency to go on automatic pilot that you must become more aware of what motivates your reactions. When we react strongly, we close down many opportunities inherent in the moment and cut off our more instinctual nature. The neurosciences have also shown that 60% of problems are solved through our instincts or gut, not through analysis or thinking. Thus our lack of engagement with self-awareness blocks us from this potential and allows many problems to continue well beyond their need to.
In my next blog post, I will reveal more about the power of being aware and share some specific practices for doing so. These practices are probably the most valuable additions you can make to your day if you desire to unleash more of your potential, as a leader.
Leaders Understand The Power of Momentum
The Heart of Executive Success
Embracing Our Diversity – What Most Diversity Initiatives Miss
Authentic Courageous Leaders Leverage Drama
Postulates of Authentic Courageous Leadership
Leadership is Not a Quest for More
Part Two: The Nuclear Power Behind Your Leadership
UBER – The Tale of Another Traumatized Executive