Business: Actualize Your Unrealized Leadership Potential, Part 1, by Man of Faith

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”

– Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

As the greatest self-realized sages profess, mastering yourself is true power. And as someone masters himself or herself and moves to higher levels of consciousness (or self-actualization), he or she organically becomes the leader those with lesser development want to follow. In this way, the need for prevalent fear-based leadership tactics – command, control, cleverness, manipulation, hierarchy, and force – disappear.

From my own experiential journey along Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, approaching self-actualization brings the gifts of acceptance, humility, faith and an uncluttered desire to serve the present moment. From that “leadership orientation”, execution becomes clear, powerful, authentic, conscious and ethical. Inspired action arises from clarity.

So how does a leader raise consciousness, and move to higher levels of self-actualization? Based on my research and personal experience, the steps can be aggregated into three non-linear practices.

Three practices to raising consciousness

1. Identify Your Ego

As Beatle George Harrison realized and wrote, “All through the day, I Me Mine, I Me Mine, I Me Mine.” It appears to be an endemic part of the human experience to obsessively identify with the content of the ego – the story of me – and compulsively ruminate on how to protect and enhance “the story of me”: my job, my salary, my accomplishments, my reputation, my house, my bank account… and the list goes on.

Scientists tell us we have 60,000 thoughts per day, and 80% of them are repetitive. I would assert that 90% of the 80% are fears and desires on how to protect or enhance “the story of me”, often driven by a desire to be “more than” or a fear of being “less than” the other.

Since reality is temporal, and we will always perceive people as “more than” and “less than”, this habitual thinking process is entirely devoid of skill. But more importantly, for business leaders, if we let the ego get into the driver’s seat in pursuit of wealth, power and prestige, we can easily get caught up in driving the story of “me”, and go blind to our higher natures.

In so doing, we fortify our perception of ourselves as separate, experience a primal lack of safety, and slip into the societal based competitive adversarial mindset: win-lose thinking, “crush the competition”, “kill or be killed”.

By understanding and acknowledging the nature of ego, we can begin to observe its destructive potential, step outside “the story of me” and ‘let go”. We can set aside the self-serving drives of the ego, in favor of acting for the greater whole – our business stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, suppliers, community environment) and personal relationships (friends, family, community, self, planet). The net result is greater connection, empathy, compassion, trust, communication, effectiveness and efficiency. These are the DNA of ethical leadership.

(Continues in Part 2)