Being a conscious leader in an unconscious world
I was talking with John Kay a couple of weeks ago and we were discussing whether the world has reached the tipping point of conscious leadership. John is co-founder of Renuma Consulting, an expert in the fields of spiritual and relational capital and a friend of mine since we met at a Conscious Capitalism event last year. We both agreed that there has been a tangible increase in global consciousness in recent years, which you might explain by the information age that we live in or by a spiritual shift that occurred at the end of 2012. Whatever your thoughts are on why it has happened, there has undoubtedly been a ground swell of conversation and activity around conscious awareness and it’s impact on leadership. Despite this, John and I agreed that we haven’t reached the tipping point and the world is still functioning in what I describe as an old paradigm.
The old paradigm means that we live in a world where profit holds more importance than kindness, where our lives are governed by material gain more so than love and where we are taught how to conform instead of being taught how to be curious. However there is a tangible shift going on right now and our value system is being questioned. We may not have reached the tipping point yet but the evidence suggests we are heading towards dramatic change.
The power of money is beginning to be questioned. The level of publicity around the recent Oxfam report that stated that by 2016, 1% of the population will own more than everyone else in the world is a prime example of this. Clearly, we are still working out the solutions to this conundrum but there is an awareness that the state of affairs when it comes to money in the world is not right, but what’s the alternative? Imagine if success was measured by how kind you are, rather than how rich you are. Money is a tool for the exchange of value and kindness has value. What would the world be like if the value of kindness replaced the value of money?
Once the power of money comes into question, the pursuit for material gain naturally follows. Saint Valentines Day was two days ago and it might seem a strange time for me to question how much importance we place on love in the world but 14th February is a prime example of how our values around love versus material gain are misplaced. Love is energy, love is abundant, love exists in the hearts of everybody in the world and can be felt, expressed and shared in every second of every day. If we lived in a world where love was promoted to the same extent as material gain, we wouldn’t need a day in the year during where retailers all over the world profit from the sale of hearts. Imagine a world where all advertisements were banned apart from those that promoted the abundance of love that exists (for free!) in all of us. What would the world be like if what we promoted instead of the latest gadget, was love in our hearts?
Until recently, we have given our children very little choice but to conform to the same values as our own. Technology is giving our children an opportunity to see the world in a way that no other generation of children has. Information is at the fingertips of every child from the point at which they learn how to use their parent’s tablet or computer and this is creating a new paradigm awareness. But what are we doing as a society to support the further development of curiosity over conformity? Our school curriculum has had no major reforms for decades. We measure our young people by a series of exams in a finite range of subjects. This prepares the academic amongst our children for ‘success’ but it sets up the other 50% of our children for failure in a world that doesn’t recognise the value of their skills and qualities because they aren’t measured by the exams that we created. It is our current thinking and behaviour that has caused problems such as the cataclysmic divide between rich and poor. What we need in our children is for them to think and behave differently in order to find solutions to the problems that our old paradigm thinking created. Imagine an education system that encouraged our children to remain childlike in their thinking and behaviour. What would the world be like if our children were allowed to stay curious, rather than conform?
The situation we are in right now is fascinating; global consciousness has increased and a major shift is imminent. However, until we reach that point of accepting that kindness, love and curiosity are more important than money, materialism and conformity, many people will be faced with being a conscious leader in an unconscious world.
When will the tipping point occur? What will happen that will make conscious awareness the focus of our education, our business and our lives? I don’t know the answer to these questions but I do know that it is important for every conscious leader in the world to support each other in a world that hasn’t yet shifted into a new paradigm. Global collaboration of conscious leadership is the only way that we will reach the tipping point and find the solutions to the nature of the world problems that we currently face.
Whilst researching for this article I spoke to someone who contacted me via The Human Leaders Facebook page. She asked for anonymity so I’m going to call her Claire. Claire attributes her sense of conscious awareness to several years of personal development that she has undertaken and she is enjoying a successful career as a director in a European firm. I asked Claire whether she feels like she is a conscious leader in an unconscious world. She replied, ‘absolutely, yes.’ Claire told me it can be really difficult when she observes behaviours in others that lack the conscious awareness that she has learned. For example she has a colleague at work who is one of the directors of the company and Claire described how she can tell that he is in a bad place. He is very insular, does not communicate well and has made Claire feel as though she was being bullied. She has tried to ignore his behaviour and detach herself from the situation in the office. She also explained how she wished he would leave his baggage at home and not bring whatever problems he is facing into work. As a last resort, Claire has spoken to another director to try and open a discussion about how to help fix the problems within the office.
As a conscious leader, one thing that Claire knows is that she cannot change the behaviour of anyone other than herself. We talked about how this awareness can make situations at work or at home very challenging. If you can only change your own behaviour, how can you help those around you when they need it? I co-created The Human Leaders and the ResponsiveLeaders community for exactly this reason. You can’t change the behaviour of those around you but what you can do is change the energy of your own behaviour, which in turn can have an extraordinary impact on others.
Being a conscious leader in an unconscious world is very challenging but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a responsibility to be true to ourselves and live our lives authentically. There is no easy solution to Claire’s predicament. She does not want to leave her role or even raise a complaint about her colleague because she knows how tough life can be. Whether you have problems at home or at work, you are human and you cannot switch your emotions on and off depending on where you are or who you are with. The best way that Claire can deal with her situation is to find the strength in her own conscious awareness and exude the energies of her own values, such as of kindness, love and curiosity.
The Human Leaders are about to launch a series of unconferences in London to support conscious leadership. In addition to this, I would like to expand the ResponsiveLeaders community in Brighton, Edinburgh, New York and Sydney and would love to hear from you if you are a conscious leader in any of these cities.