Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019
Like most people, I catch myself thinking about future events or rehashing past experiences, usually chiding myself for making poor choices. This ebb and flow between past pain points and future affairs lead us everywhere except where life is actually lived: in the present moment.
Corporate executives, leaders of small businesses and nonprofits, educators, civic and community leaders, and even parents all make thousands of choices each day to be conscious leaders—living and leading in the present—or unconscious managers, living in a world of routines and to-dos.
What distinguishes the two? To answer this critical question, let’s first examine the attributes that separate managers from leaders.
Managers focus on routines, checking off to-do lists while ensuring that subordinates are toeing the line, completing tasks, and adhering to policies and procedures. Managers are responsible for schedules, project completion, doling out duties, and dotting i’s and crossing t’s.
Leadership, on the other hand, encompasses planning with vision, communicating with impact and influence, taking prudent risks, and genuinely engaging with others from a place of potential, synergy, and unity. Leaders understand their responsibility more from a vantage point of possibility rather than a rote completion of tasks and adherence to budgetary constraints.
Leaders encourage greatness in others by sharing their knowledge, experience, and aspirations while creating an environment where others are motivated and excited to participate.
The second major differentiation lies in the contrast between consciousness and unconsciousness, or being “asleep at the wheel.” When you are aware of being aware, you step into consciousness. Your choices are made from a state of awareness. With this shift comes the opportunity to choose differently and to wake up to the reality of potential and possibility.
When you step into consciousness, you are immediately brought into the present. Being present as a leader opens the floodgate to genuine human connection. Others will feel your presence energetically as a visceral current inviting them to participate and be heard.
This evolving leadership process creates an opening for collaboration, participation, and a shared sense of purpose. We, as human beings, want to live with purpose and love. Leaders can change the world one interaction at a time, just by living in the present. Are you?
Here are four crucial signals that you’re still operating from an unconscious mindset instead:
1. Your professional life feels unfulfilling and empty. If you sarcastically describe your leadership duties as “just another day in paradise,” you probably aren’t invested in your own well-being. Either the profession you’ve chosen, or the company you’ve joined is the wrong fit. Or you’ve decided to go through the motions and just make it through your workday. This is not living; it’s enduring
2. Your mind and heart are disconnected. Sure, it’s important to develop a sharp and insightful mind. But when the mind and heart are disconnected, you operate in a limited and myopic state of being.
Most leaders don’t talk openly about love, compassion, and understanding as core organizational tenets. Yet caring for those you lead means being present with them in a genuine, authentic, and even vulnerable manner. Do you actually care about the people you lead? Your employees, associates, students, or children will know if you don’t.
3. You regularly find yourself living in the past or future. How often does the false-ego voice from within raise a red flag as it warns, “Watch out!” or “What if they find out you’re fearful?” or “Don’t say that!” or “That meeting will be a failure.” All of these moments, and more, are emblematic of living your life in the past or the future.
4. You blame others for their negative involvement. As leaders, our experiences with others are, in fact, mirrors of our own behaviors. For example, if you witness someone being lazy or irresponsible, don’t accuse and attack them for this observed negativity. Rather, ask yourself, “What have I done to contribute to this person’s lack of energy or purpose?”
Many times, we go through the routine exercise of managerial duties, unaware of how we are acting, which ultimately leads to blaming everyone other than ourselves. Be present and know that what you do is important, but how you do what you do is the difference between being mediocre and amazing. Show others how to do it! It will generate far more results than casting blame.
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019
Do you work in an organization that systematically put profits and revenue ahead of associate well-being and inclusion? Have you ever stood by silently or turned a blind eye to avoid being cast as a renegade or troublemaker?
In today’s society, we’ve created a corporate culture of fear, where standing up for personal integrity or demanding accountability for unscrupulous business practices can be a dangerous undertaking. Fear of job loss or facing the wrath of board members are just some of the threats that prevent honest and appropriate debate, dialogue, and reevaluation.
In this environment, can profits and ethics live in the same room? Yes, they can, if you move to a leadership approach called conscious leadership.
Conscious Leaders Risk Taking a Stand
Across the globe, we’ve come to accept that corporations can get away with theft, lying, and corruption.
So who takes the risk to stand up for what is right? Is it necessary that leaders leave corrupt and misleading companies? Perhaps it is.
But maybe the answer lies in having the courage to question norms, push for reform, and demand ethical decision-making. Responsible growth can be a rational and profitable outcome. The first step is to take a stand.
Conscious Leaders Risk Caring for Others
Conscious leadership invites you to take the extra moment to actually care about those you lead and learn about them beyond the formalities of business protocol. Connecting emotionally and establishing a foundational relationship with your associates isn’t because you want to pry into their private lives. Rather, it’s to let them know you care about their well-being. You can demonstrate that you are engaged in knowing their aspirations. And in doing so, you become intentional in your desire to lead them effectively.
Leadership is a human enterprise. The choice is yours as to whether you are willing to take the risk of being genuinely interested in your direct employees beyond the reporting structures that are in place.
The payoff alone is worth it: Forging emotional connections creates associate engagement, motivated team members who are willing to exert that extra degree of effort, and, ultimately, better customer satisfaction that leads to greater profits.
Conscious Leaders Connect to a Vision
Conscious leaders create a vision of the future where ethics, profits, and well-being co-exist and build off each other. But being a visionary is worthless unless others align themselves with this vision.
We all have concepts, plans, and dreams. Bringing these great ideas to fruition by developing strategies, plans, and structures is critical to your success. Believing in your ability as a leader is a risky business. But having a vision demands this type of thoughtful and purposeful leadership.
Conscious Leaders Invite Others
An integral part of being able to realize our visions is to invite those we lead and serve to join us. Yes, invite them!
When your vision is about satisfying your own need for self-aggrandizement or control, others sense this and are reticent to follow. But when your vision includes those you lead in the fruits of your labor and subsequent success, you lift up everyone around you to share in the rewards. And while your ideas may have great potential, they pale when measured against diverse and collective inclusion of those being led.
Conscious Leadership Is Earned
In today’s fast-paced world, respect and trust are not earned simply by title. Leaders must be willing to work by establishing the loyalty and trust of those they serve through their actions, behaviors, and personal connections made with each and every associate.
Dare to dream! Dare to inspire! Being brave is risky. So, too, is standing up for your beliefs or for a friend or associate. But ultimately, such risk-taking is worth the effort. Courage is exactly what will make you stand out in a crowd. It’s how people will recognize you as a conscious leader.
**Originally published at CEO World
Dec 27, 2019
Dec 27, 2019
Never in our lifetimes has transformative leadership been needed more than now. Take a moment to observe the world we live in. Turn off the 24-hour cable news networks and set aside your personal belief systems, biases, attitudes, politics, religion, and views about a myriad of social and economic issues. Yes, this is a big ask, but our times deserve reflective and objective introspection. What happens in the minds of each of us shapes the collective.
We’re seeing an epidemic scarcity of ethical behavior on the part of politicians, business executives, and companies masquerading as citizens. Add the growing disparity between the haves and have-nots, the irrationality of science deniers, the ever-increasing global violence, and the mass evacuation of entire populations due to leaders amassing power, and you have a world that’s out of control. We are in desperate need of redefining and realigning leadership at all levels and in all facets of our collective global world order.
Where to start, you ask? Good question.
Leadership, a noble enterprise, demands more than rote learning of corporate policy, established principles, and toeing-the-line managerial duties. Leadership incorporates the whole person, calling us to be more than we are, more than our title, more than our own limitations.
True leadership is an amalgamation of our life experiences. Leaders reach other human beings not via status or position, but from a mindset of authenticity, genuineness, and prudent risk-taking. If we measure success in accordance with what companies, organizations, and established systems ordain as competencies to master, we conform to a limited and constricted framework that ultimately leaves us half-filled, dissatisfied, and living well below our human capacity.
True leadership also requires us to recast our view of ourselves. How often have you become the person someone else wanted you to be? From parents wanting us to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, painters, welders, or mechanics, to the companies acculturating us to live true to a title governed by corporate policies, we live everywhere but in a space that’s true to ourselves. We often relinquish our true essence, that part of us that is genuine, real, and speaks to our deepest, soulful selves.
We fail when we’re not living true to who we are, not asking for what we desire, continually trying to please others, all while unconsciously piling up resentments, anger, and inner turmoil that leads to physical, mental, and spiritual illness.
Becoming the conscious, engaged leader this era demands requires you to be the real you. Yes, this is harder than it sounds. But taking on this challenge generates resilience and, ultimately, the realization that you have the power to choose who you’ll become and how you’ll live your life.
Here are three real-world practices for stepping into the real you:
There is a widely held belief that manifests in the question: “I’m only one person, what difference can I make?” The real you is a superconductive electromagnetic miracle, capable of energizing yourself as well as those you lead and serve. Stepping into the real you elevates your energetic flow because you’re aligning with your higher self, that part of your essence that shines a light on darkness. Others feel this — it’s visceral and restorative — debunking the myth that one person cannot make a difference.
The dark side is powerful, but it’s not as electrifying and luminescent as the “Force.” When you step into authenticity, your output changes. Others are attracted to this energy, as strength, confidence, and caring are qualities sought by all of us. You have the power to change not only yourself but also those you lead, simply by being real. Cast aside the need to please everyone by contorting yourself into someone else. Be powerful. Be authentic.
Contrary to conventional management wisdom, being vulnerable is a leadership strength. Vulnerability reveals your humanness, opening a portal for others to relate and connect. It leads to collaborations that are otherwise not achievable when title, authority, and hierarchy prevail. Human beings want to connect on a genuine basis. Show your humanness and watch what happens.
The time for conscious leadership is now. Be the you that shines your light on the darkness we’re experiencing. Don’t wait for others to take the gauntlet. Transformational leadership is within each of us. This thing we call life is not a dress rehearsal. This is the real deal. Be the real you.
Jan 02, 2019
Jan 02, 2019
How many of us walking on the planet lately are experiencing a gnawing on our insides, an uneasiness just below the surface of our consciousness? Of course, this chasm can be attributed to many factors, from diet to politics and everything in between. Yet, what I refer to is a collective malaise, shared among all of us in one way or another. It could manifest as feeling unsettled, perhaps experiencing free-floating anxiety or angst that something is missing, something isn’t right or that there’s something I need to do, but am unsure what that might be?
I have found this visceral restlessness to be linked to my desire for an external solution, someone or something to come along and fix it, easing my worries and taking away the pangs of frustration that incessantly infiltrate my sense of self, all pulling me away from where life is being lived: in the present. And as much as I keep my secret desire for a silver bullet under wraps, the truth is, more than ever before the answer lies from within. What I have come to understand, particularly given the extraordinary circumstances of our current social/political/economic state of affairs, is that it’s an inside job! But how does one find his/her way to a state of being that allows for serenity, love and greater understanding? That elusive and aspirational place is a place of grace, a divine presence that exists in all of us, veiled so often by our own driving sense of self above others and largely hidden in our 3-D construct. As Doctor of Psychology and dynamic change agent herself, Dr. Jan Seward, so aptly and elegantly describes, “Grace is the ability to handle the human experience and to recognize our own frailties while forgiving ourselves.”
Ever since I was a boy growing up under the strictures of the Roman Catholic church, the term ‘grace’ found its way into my psyche, always non-descript and amorous. Grace, can you touch it? Is it real? How does one even attempt to acquire grace? Or is it something that we have all the time, but cannot easily access? These and so many other questions have permeated my thoughts for some time. However, in my own life journey over the past several years, I have discovered some keys to embracing a state of grace that I want to share with you.
These are challenging times for most of us, no doubt. Quelling the fires within, the undercurrent of discontent, angst and gnawing we feel, is not only called for, but demanded in these uncertain times. Grace is the internal fuel necessary to harness our full self-expression, even in times of duress. When you tune into where life is occurring—the present, and you choose to lower your guard enough to step into the presence of grace, shifts happen. Set aside that which you hold as a shield of honor, your strong beliefs, opinions and certainties to allow for others to join in, contribute and share their stories, beliefs and talents. What you may find is greater understanding, better solutions and even friendships. Lastly, forgive yourself for being human! In this forgiveness, grace can filter through the visceral plane to transmute darkness into light.
May your journey be one of GRACE!
Aug 23, 2017
Aug 23, 2017
There are unforgettable moments that come to us, offering a chance to reset, an opportunity to step into new focus. The total solar eclipse sweeping across the US was one of those magical moments. The line between what our 3-D reality shows us and the access point to the collective unconscious, with its deep indelible memories, experiences and multi-dimensional facets, is blurred, opaque and so often out of reach. Yet, there is a stirring from within, a spiritual pinging that draws me in for a closer look. Not unlike a dream where one is trying to evade a rushing vehicle while crossing the street and as fast as you are running, you don’t seem to be able to get to the other side; this same struggle emerges as I attempt to trust in the process of awakening to divine order and perhaps even—my own destiny.
Experiencing the solar eclipse from my home in the Pacific Northwest, my senses and spirit pulsed with eager anticipation. To prepare for this cosmic event, I purposely set aside quiet reflection to identify that which was to be set free: limitations, fears, hurts and unconscious barbs carried around as a ball and chain. And as I discovered while the moon slowly crept across the face of a luminescent sun, there was a purging, an intentional cathartic release that opened up my heart to a new light, a new birth of loving spirit. In the August/September edition of The Mountain Astrologer, Emily Trinkaus beautifully phrases both the challenge and the opportunity of this celestial miracle,
“Do we have the courage to be ourselves and trust our light, to step into more of our joy and radiance in the face of so much suffering in the world? Our challenge is not to get pulled into the collective suffering and descend into feelings of overwhelm and powerlessness, but instead to become bright enough to help light the way through the darkness” (p. 87).
Here is what I know about trusting TRUST.
Life is lived in the present tense- Past hurts, failures, embarrassments and mistakes, while painful to remember, do not define who I am in my present life. These foibles are points of learning, if I accept them as such. We only have this moment and the next moment, nothing more and nothing less. When I step into this realization and awareness, I become conscious not only to myself, but to myself in relationship to others and the greater community. Being present opens the door to making choices that either bring light or cast darkness. Being present allows me to put aside fears, insecurities and imagined negative future outcomes. Being present provides me with the opportunity to express myself more authentically, with greater confidence and ultimately the ability to build trust.
Life is not random, but rather divinely orchestrated– There is a difference between those who ‘react’ and those who ‘respond.’ The difference can be characterized by those playing the victim while others actively participate in their lives. It is hard to imagine why bad things happen to good people; yes, but in a broader perspective, think about times in your life when heartache, loss and misfortune have touched you or others in your circle. Opportunities for healing occur when the pains of life impale us. There have been many times where I thought, “Why is this happening to me?” only to later find that the hardship was a catalyst for growth, greater personal expression and spiritual development. When I have laid down my prideful ego, found a modicum of humility and embraced forgiveness, compassion and love, trust has followed. The phrase, ‘expect the unexpected’ reins true, especially in the darkness of the eclipse and the new light that follows.
Life is best lived in the embrace of love- The thousands of decisions made each day, mostly unconscious and on autopilot, are the product of living life on a treadmill, rote and safe. Stepping into conscious choosing requires waking up. There are two sides on the continuum of living and choice making. On one side is fear, on the other, love. We tend to operate somewhere in the middle, depending on one’s circumstances and/or stage of self-awareness. Now is the time for us to consider a brave new world, one where we acknowledge our dark energies, fears and what holds us back—what we keep in the dark recesses of our thoughts, preventing us from taking the leap into union with others and ourselves. Love is a choice!
Life is best lived with the power of hope– Unlike optimism, that emanates as feelings, subject to change, hope is a connection point between the mind and the heart. Hope demands a level of vulnerability and courage, a deeply visceral belief that is felt in the stomach and rationalized in the mind. Archbishop Desmond Tutu exclaims from The Book of Joy,
“To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that, in time, the storm will pass” (p.177).
Hope brings us to a place of meaning, a purposeful manifestation of personal and spiritual importance, a driving force lighting our way in an otherwise hostile, confusing and increasingly violent reality. Choosing hope requires strong integrity and firm commitment. We know the pangs of disappointment, heartache and resigned cynicism, yet to give into these human qualities limits our ability to trust in the process.
The darkness covering our sun during the total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, was our chance to let go of old thinking and behaviors. The eclipse, by its very nature, is transformative, providing a portal to transmute fear into love, a place where we can reset our intentions to manifest a new self, a self that trusts in love, trusts in compassion and trusts in trusting.
Sep 09, 2016
Sep 09, 2016
STOP THE KILLING!
This is IMPORTANT! I recently underwent a life-altering Divine experience during which I was given the responsibility of bringing forward a message, not simply for my ears, but a message that MUST be delivered to the entire planet! Crazy, you say? Maybe, but nonetheless, true. And it is with great urgency that I share with you this simple, yet immensely powerful message: STOP THE KILLING!
No need to tell you that our human story is wrought with perpetual killing. Throughout the millennia we have a chronology of death, civil wars, territorial wars, world wars and many examples of mass eradication of civilizations, all the product of human greed, power, control and separation. To make this more insane, we justify our killing in the name of our gods and countries. Somehow my God is more righteous than yours. Closer to home, we casually accept, in the name of democracy, our use of drones to silently kill those who we deem our enemies. Even closer to home, we have the NRA, with 4 million members who continue to enflame the American psyche that having guns is the only sure way to protect ourselves, all 300 million plus citizens, from the evil overlord government coming to take away our rights. Fear and more fear.
All this while in Chicago, to name one American city, over the Labor Day holiday, reported that there were 65 people shot, 13 fatally within a 20-hour period. In 2016 alone, 488 homicides have occurred with the number of shooting victims at 2930. Guns! Internationally, it is estimated that more than 400,000 human beings have been killed in the Syrian war crisis, with millions of citizens forced to flee their homelands due to the insanity of violence and killing. I could go on and on.
A compassionate human being might sit up and take notice of our continued insanity. But, what we have is a population that for the most part is being herded into the field by the corporate media, tied to the corporate machines, tied to the political apparatus, dumbing us down, lulling us into casual complacency and creating a collective myopia, desensitized and asleep at the wheel. And so far, I am only talking about KILLING HUMAN BEINGS! But wait, there’s more!
Not only do we continue to perpetuate and justify the enterprise of killing human beings, but we are also killing the animal kingdom. According to the World Wildlife Fund 2016, there are 18 CRITICALLY ENDANGERED animals on planet Earth, among them, the Mountain Gorillas, Orangutans, Amur Leopards, Black, Javan and Sumatran Rhinos along with Sumatran Elephants, to name a few. In addition, there are 28 other species categorized as ENDANGERED. Among these animals are Tigers, Blue Whales, Snow Leopards, Sea Lions, Red Pandas, Indian Elephants and Chimpanzees. Our beautiful animals are being slaughtered and we acquiesce into a pumpkin latte and think it’s not our problem.
Then there’s this place we call home, planet Earth. Global climate change is still being debated in the halls of our United States Congress while we continue to see record heat across the planet, causing tremendous related problems. The Amazon rain forest, our principle resource for converting our carbon-dioxide and generating oxygen to enable us to breathe, is being decimated, all in the interest of corporate profits. Quarter after quarter, energy, pharmaceutical, and big agro companies report record earnings. The petroleum companies are thriving, bolstered by other corporations, namely the big banks, infusing large capital investments into their continued drilling and use of carbon based fuels. Does anyone remember the BP oil spill or Fukushima? Has anyone heard about the thousands of tons of plastic floating in our oceans, killing off our underwater friends? Anyone, other than Elon Musk with his proposed Mars mission, have another place in the universe where you think we can inhabit?
Yes, this is a BIG DEAL that requires all of us to WAKE UP and take action. NOW is the time. That’s right! Let’s get off our lazy asses and take a stand. What can one person do, you ask? Here’s how we start this mission—
This begins with each of us. You, that’s right, YOU reading this article—for this moment, put aside your inner chatter, the voice within that says, “you’re not tall enough,” or “you’re not intelligent enough,” or “not cute, charismatic, sexy, clever, handsome, rich, or influential enough.” It’s a false flag that, “I’m only one person and no one cares about me anyway,” or any other internal voice that somehow tells you that you’re not perfect. And do this instead:
Today, I begin my mission of getting the message out to the rest of the 7+ billion human beings sharing our common home. I ask you to join me to…
STOP THE KILLING!
Sep 05, 2016
“Judge me by the enemies I have made.”
Franklin D. RooseveltEffective leadership demands more than rote acceptance of rules, guidelines, ...
Sep 05, 2016
“Judge me by the enemies I have made.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Effective leadership demands more than rote acceptance of rules, guidelines, policies and practices. Whether in corporate, academia, non-profit or any other leadership venue, we often equate leadership traits of intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision as guideposts for measuring the effectiveness of our leaders. Yet, truly masterful leadership calls for decision making in the context and application of wisdom, sagacity and discernment.
The dictionary defines discernment as “the quality of being able to grasp and comprehend what is obscure” or “an act of perceiving or discerning something” (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). Traditional definitions tend to align to religious underpinning of God’s truth, “In its simplest definition, discernment is nothing more than the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically“ (MacArthur, 2009). Discernment in the context of trying to assimilate into a religious dogma, begs the question of whose God are we talking about? Jones (2015, para. 2), of the Centre for Innovative Leadership Navigation, delivers an insightful thesis regarding the importance of discernment for educators, “Interestingly discernment is an area of focus that has largely been left to theologians, which in itself is both interesting and yet somewhat surprising. After all, discernment is fundamental to decision making, and the quality of decision taking surely hinges upon the quality of our discernment. The ability to judge well and with perception can not only improve our ability as a leader, but also as a human being.”
Given the urgencies of our current leadership roles, bringing wisdom and discernment into our decision making requires infusing that which is internal to us, stepping beyond common practice and bridging the chasm between what appears to be visible and apparent to a differentiated level of consciousness.
Conscious discernment elevates our ability to look within to discover nuance, creativity and innovation, all desirable attributes of highly effective leaders and essential to distinguishing truth from fallacy. And yet, truth is elusive and subjective, particularly when others within your organization have dissimilar views, opinions, levels of emotional intelligence, communication styles and ambitions. As leaders, we must make decisions which not only impact those we lead and serve, but advance and support diverse constituents, corporate goals, and ultimately the health of the organization. Do we entrust our decision making strictly to the corporate playbook or look beyond the construct of policies, procedures and practices to embrace what Jack Welch brought to life early in his role as CEO at General Electric? Prior to emboldening his 4E’s model of energy, energize, edge and execution, there were the components of head, heart and guts. “Head,” of course, referred to an individual’s intelligence and competence, “Heart” connoted the “soft” skills of empathy and understanding, which Welch felt were essential to developing the open, candid organization that he was trying to build. “Guts,” as the name implies, meant a level of self-confidence sufficient for making the tough decisions” (Krames, 2005, pp. 8-9).
In our quest for discerning objective truth, are we, as leaders, aware of the internal fires that burn within, creating filters for our decision making? Conscious discernment compels us to think before acting, breathe before engaging and shift from reaction to choice, thus moving away from those fires and internal belief systems that stir from within, unconsciously nudging and inviting quick, and at times, less than productive decision making. When we are aware of being aware, we step into the presence of consciousness, better able to hear the voice from within to distinguish between objective truth and the fallacy of limiting views. Our inner psychic world is a composite of hardwired emotions attached to those indelible experiences that impact decision making and ultimately the consequential results. Our thoughts then, driven by both conscious and unconscious emotional patterns, create our intentions, which lead to our choices, thus constructing our realities. And as human beings, we are imbued with a full range of emotions from joy to rage, all fixtures from within, subject to surfacing in an instant and sparking actions. Daniel Goldman, acclaimed author of Emotional Intelligence, postulates that we have the ability to develop an inner radar to control turbulent emotions by gaining what he refers to as a choice point.
Self awareness is essential in developing consciousness of our self-defeating habits, usually implanted by events in our early childhood, along with understanding that our more-primal limbic signals for strong emotions, when left unchecked, control our behaviors.
When handling our turbulent feelings, it helps to understand what happens in the buildup to them. This typically goes by unnoticed. But if we can bring the buildup into our awareness, we gain a mental foothold that allows us to short-circuit what otherwise would become a destructive emotional hijack. At the very least we can notice how we feel during the hijack itself and note the negative consequences of our impulses. And with luck (or practice), we can catch ourselves in the future and change what we say or do for the better. For this it helps to become aware of the gap between the provocation of an emotion, like anger, and our response. The same goes for our more mundane tensions, the ones we all face when whim and impulse contend with obligation and responsibility. A pause can help us sort out when those impulses and whims are just fine to act on and when obligation and responsibility matter more (Goleman, 2015, Self Awareness, para 3).
While it is true that consistency and stability are desirable attributes of effective leadership, the discerning leader also understands that one size does not fit all. Choosing one’s actions depends on many variables, from environmental to individual competencies and everything in between. Getting to the heart of matter, whether making decisions that affect the overall performance of the organization or deciding which word to insert in an email communication to a colleague, depends on one’s ability to aptly discern the optimal choice. Maxwell (2011) writes, “Good leaders cut through the clutter to see the real issues. They know what really matters. There’s an old saying that a smart person believes only half of what he hears, but a really smart person knows which half to believe” (p.287). And to make matters more complex, conscious discernment ebbs and flows with the constant changes in the many dynamics that drive an organization’s heartbeat. Market changes, technology enhancements, availability of talent, internal organizational politics, and so much more, all act to create a fluid equilibrium requiring balance and constant adjustments.
Effective leadership demands wearing different hats to fit different situations. Discerning which hat to wear or which dance step is required at any given time calls for flexibility and grace. After all, leadership is not in a vacuum, but rather between human beings having a human experience. In the humanness of the experience, others carry with them unique belief systems, aspirations, competencies, motivations and psychic filters. Conscious discernment is proactive, anticipating with clear vision the paths to walk in order to accomplish the tasks at hand and find balance.
One area requiring a great deal of discernment is our own characterological reactions. We all have our imbalances where we get triggered by people and things. Maimonides wrote about the importance of finding that place of balance. This concept covers the gamut of character traits, such as the balance between excessive pride and meekness, between stinginess and wastefulness or between rage and apathy. The intermediate point between extremes is not always easy to find. That’s the idea of consciousness – finding the exact point of balance that’s needed for the situation. (Wolbe, 2001, Ch. 3, para 2).
Sagacity as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (1997), synonymous to discernment, speaks to one, “…gifted with acuteness of mental discernment, having special aptitude for the discovery of truth, penetrating and judicious in the estimation of character and motives, and the devising of means for accomplishment of ends” (Gunz & Lissack, 2005, p. 397). More importantly, a distinguishing element which further supports a level of conscious discernment is a leader’s interpretive knowledge. Clearly, leadership acumen centered in creativity and innovation are highly desirable for any organization, but without the ability to see beyond the specifics of a particular situation in its overall context and environment, great progress and results may not occur. Simmons and Sower (2012) explore this concept, termed the helicopter view, originally developed by the Royal Dutch Shell Company as,
The ability to see the big picture that the helicopter view provides is a vital leadership trait. But sagacity also incorporates the wisdom to see what others do not and to effectively act upon that information by providing leadership that can identify transformational creativity and foster innovation within their organizations. Without sagacity, the helicopter view might enable an organization to adapt to changes in its environment through continuous incremental improvement but provides no guarantee that it will recognize potential paradigm-shifting events on the horizon (reactive) or develop those events itself (proactive). (p. 301).
The concept and practice of conscious discernment in leadership necessitates an elevated state of perception and awareness. One’s ability to rise above the three dimensional limitations to become the observer, present and aware of your own leadership behaviors, yet with a holistic view of all the moving parts, optimizes a leader’s capacity to comprehend a clear path forward. The analogy of being both on the dance floor and in the balcony, watching with keen interest, as beautifully illustrated by Heifetz and Linsky (2002), provides an important element of higher awareness necessary for envisioning a more comprehensive understanding.
Leadership is an improvisational art. You may have an overarching vision, clear, orienting values, and even a strategic plan, but what you actually do from moment to moment cannot be scripted. To be effective, you must respond to what is happening. Going back to our metaphor, you have to move back and forth from the balcony to the dance floor, over and over again throughout the day, week, month, and year. You take action, step back and assess the results of the action, reassess the plan, then go to the dance floor and make the next move. You have to maintain a diagnostic mindset on the changing reality” (p. 73).
Each situation requires assessing the most optimal dance step. Do you waltz or tango? And which partner provides you the greatest opportunities for an enlightened response?
Have you ever wondered why you connect better with some people while with others, the simplest of communications seem strained and counterproductive, despite your best efforts? Human beings are in essence super-conductive electromagnetic miracles, energized, electric and infinitely connected to each other. You have heard the phrases, “She’s got an electric personality,” or “When he speaks, people listen,” or “She’s always one step ahead of everyone else.” These comments illustrate observations we make of individuals who stand out as different, more expressive and possessing qualities that could be described as super-human or of a sixth sense. What is it that causes a room full of people to turn and notice an unknown individual walking into the space, while others come and go without notice? Energetically, if we were able to see the energy that emits from us, we would discover an elevated aura, a palpable flow of current exuding from certain individuals. Why is this? Energy, when viewed as a current, flows within a frequency, from low to high. Leaders sensitive to their own output can choose, at any given moment, to elevate their vibration by shifting from unconscious auto-pilot to the present moment, selecting an awareness of openness and light. From this point of conscious awareness, leaders can make decisions that are discerning and empowering, reflective of supporting those being led with intentional foresight and direct connection. When this level of presence is employed, different choices emerge; those you lead and serve feel your energy and a higher degree of collaboration can manifest.
Interestingly, while companies need discerning transformational leaders who possess the knowledge, charisma and talent to spearhead changes that elevate profitability, expand market share in a competitive and ever-changing environment, and change the rules of the game in their industry, relatively few leaders fit this mold. Few executives understand the unique strengths needed to become a discerning leader. Rooke and Torbert (2005), discuss the Seven Transformations of Leadership without any regard to discernment, proposing that great leaders are differentiated not by their personality or philosophy but by their action logic—how they interpret their own and others’ behavior and how they maintain power or protect against threats. Central to their thesis is the belief that leaders are made, not born, and how they develop is critical for organizational change. Their extensive research included twenty-five years of survey-based consulting across a diverse array of highly successful American and European companies and thousands of executives, managers and professionals. Out of this research emerges seven action types that catalogued leaders based on characteristics shown and strengths identified.
Notably, we found that the three types of leaders associated with below-average corporate performance (Opportunists, Diplomats, and Experts) accounted for 55% of our sample. They were significantly less effective at implementing organizational strategies than the 30% of the sample who measured as Achievers. Moreover, only the final 15% of managers in the sample (Individualists, Strategists, and Alchemists) showed the consistent capacity to innovate and to successfully transform their organizations (para 8).
Of the total number of surveyed leaders, only 5% represented the highest levels of transformational ability, the Strategist at 4% and the Alchemist at 1%. The Strategist, as a transformational leader, generates organizational and personal transformations. He/she exercises the power of mutual inquiry, vigilance, and vulnerability for both the short and long term. The highest level of Alchemist, good at leading society-wide transformations, generates social integration of material, spiritual, and societal factors to achieve a higher order.
While there is efficacy to this study, it fails to consider the innate, unique and less tangible, yet highly relevant characteristic of discernment. One can learn to listen more effectively and develop leadership skills necessary to become the Strategist and Alchemist. Yet, how does one learn compassion or evolve to a higher vibration, one that touches the hearts of others? A leader’s ability to exercise sagacious intelligence and the discernment necessary to provide a differentiated degree of understanding, empathy and human connection deserves our collective attention. In a world exponentially changing, wrought with increased instability, violence, corporate greed and disparity of wealth, our leaders must align to a higher calling, one that bridges consciousness with discernment. Today’s leaders must integrate conscious discernment. It is simply not enough to define effective leadership by the standards and characteristics of yesterday’s leaders. Discernment, through the application of wisdom and sagacity, is the catalyst for future-thinking, action-based leadership at a time when our global community requires nothing less.
Discernment. n.d. In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary (11th ed.).com. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/discernment
Goleman, D. (2015, November 02). Develop Your Inner Radar to Control Turbulent Emotions.
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Many Directions. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
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leading. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
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& Management Review, 6(5), 75.
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Formula to Work in Your Organizaion. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
MacArthur, J., (2009, November 9), What is Biblical Discernment and why is it important?
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Organization. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc.
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Review, 83(4), 66-76. https://hbr.org/2005/04/seven-transformations-of-leadership
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Aug 23, 2015
Aug 23, 2015
What’s up with the millennial generation? For years, I toiled with understanding this younger generation and their exceptional talents. Finding an inroad to harness their unique voice and spirit presented a wonderful opportunity to step into their collective psyche to identify what, why and how they experience the world. This is a generation that gets their news from satirical outlets such as Comedy Central, living by word-of-mouth recommendations from friends on Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter and Blogs.
In my leadership role as a banking executive working in one of the most affluent areas of the country, finding committed, talented and engaged younger employees became extremely difficult. Scratching my head, this baby-boomer boss spent a significant amount of time and energy interviewing, discussing and leading these associates only to find unique challenges associated with this generation. This group encompasses those born in the early 1980s through the early 2000s.
By contrast, as a baby-boomer, I know the difference between a world of limited technology and a simpler, more structured order from today’s increasingly intertwined and ever-accelerating technological mainstream. Not only have I endured the jagged mix of bridging the chasm of generations in my professional life, but also in my personal world. With three sons born during this tumultuous period, finding understanding and cohesion has been an interesting journey.
History gives us some important clues as to why millennials were born into a new age, a new reality. The millennial generation commenced with a very dramatic shift in American consciousness. The era of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, during the 60s and 70s, took a sharp turn when a little known disease entered the current mainstream: AIDS. Living in New York City at the onset, I witnessed a penetrating fear infiltrate the psyche of young men in the City. What had been a culture of freedom and exploration now turned cold and dire as young gay men inflicted by the disease died a horrible death. This shift in the collective unconscious brought about a fear that had not been known previously. And culturally, AIDS became not only a symbol of the homosexual community but a social wedge creating a deep crevice in our collective experiences.
November 9, 1989, was a pivotal date in world history as the Berlin Wall crumbled. This iconic landmark symbolized the end of the Cold War and the introduction to a new world order. Fast forward to December 26, 1991, when the former USSR dissolved the Soviet Bloc into a Commonwealth of Independent States. So world events ushered in the start of the millennial generation. But even more impactful was this new technology called the Internet. By the mid-1990s, computers were entering the American landscape and by the early 2000s, everything changed in a big way with the ubiquitous emergence of cellular phones. But wait, there was more! In the mid 2000s, came the advent of smart cellular phones equipped with functionality that again accelerated everything in our world. Essentially smart phones were handheld computers with a phone function. The millennial generation seemed to be born with the immediate dexterity to power their world from a phone in their pocket. Speed, access and availability now became a standard to which this generation seemed at home.
Here are 5 simple methods to employ when engaging a millennial.
1. LEAD WITH OPTIONS-
Directing, bossing and ordering will not work. When involving millennials, open your leadership (including parenting) with options of how to complete tasks beyond rote practice. Flexibility is key!
2. OVER COMMUNICATE-
This generation is attached to a virtual reality that has instructed their pattern of communication to texting vs. phoning, following Facebook vs. one-on-one interactions and multitasking vs. task oriented engagement.
3. INVITE THEM-
Do not be fooled into thinking that millennials do not have creative capacity to revolutionize standard practice into a better, more efficient way of being. Lead by invitation and watch out for amazing ideas.
4. CREATE A SOLID PLATFORM-
This generation does not know what it feels like to not have technology running the show. Being born into a society of fear with foundations crumbling does not provide any solid footing on which to have security. Provide a safe and secure environment from which they can thrive.
5. LEARN FROM THEM-
Whether you like it or not, computers, the Internet and rapid-fire technological advances are the reality for all of us. Rather than live in frustration and annoyance, ask them to teach you their natural abilities. Join in the fun!
Aug 23, 2015
Aug 23, 2015
Paradoxically, what has come to characterize true masculinity is anything but! Take for instance strength and courage, two attributes concretely demonstrating manly fortitude. How one qualitatively describes strength and courage depends on the circumstances around which men exhibit behaviors attributed to these two characteristics. Is it strength and courage when a man treats a woman as less than? Does strength and courage emanate when men fail to support equal pay for women? And politically speaking, do we attribute strength and courage to conservative media, politicians and leaders when men decide what is in the best interest in decisions regarding women’s health? Can we tag honor, respect and true masculinity to those men who feel comfortable demeaning, degrading and subjugating women? The answer to all these questions is clearly, NO!
It seems our human experience is replete with many powerful examples of cowardice and false bravado where ‘real men’ support the longstanding notion that simply due to their natural birthright as men, they exist on a higher pedestal than women. Male domination, primarily through institutional violence, power and control, has existed and enjoyed ubiquitous acceptance for millennia. So what have we learned about the myths of being a REAL MAN?
Look deeper guys! Go below the superficial surface of accepted practice and find a meaningful understanding of your true masculinity. You are much more than bodies built for strength and courage. You are the beautiful melding of divine and purposeful energy and love. Yes men, love. Our collective shortsightedness is in part a reflection of the American story, a short one compared to other cultures with thousands of years of recorded history. Eastern philosophy and practice speaks to the symbolism of Yin and Yang, Father Sun and Mother Moon, the balance between feminine and masculine energies, all of which embody unity, connection and the necessity of love, understanding and compassion.
Let us examine 5 myths associated with Real Men.
1. REAL MEN don’t cry!
Wrong! Real men openly express their emotions, including sadness, loss and frustration. We are a composite of body, mind and spirit. The human experience is entirely emotional and experiential. To cut off and live true to select emotions is to live broken and disabled. Stop operating from a storyboard of false and limiting beliefs.
2. REAL MEN are macho!
Not necessarily! The Village People’s, Macho, Macho Man iconic hit of the 1980s, sarcastically illustrated the ultimate paradox associated with real men being macho. A reminder— gay men are men. The word and meaning of ‘macho’ has undergone great transition over the past several decades, making it a passé to equivocate macho to describing a real man.
3. REAL MEN are ready and willing to fight!
Are you? It is a longstanding axiom that real men are ready to fight. This makes sense, in that violence, power and control are at the heart of masculinity. We continue to live intimately attached to war, violence, guns, brutality and subjugation. But while history clearly supports this myth, real men are selecting a higher vibration, one of dialogue, inclusion and flexibility. Real men oppose violence and brutality by standing up for women, supporting equal rights for all and by acknowledging their own femininity.
So put down that 6th beer, 4th slice of pizza and 22nd hot chicken wing. Turn off the Sunday afternoon gladiator NFL game and stop the perpetual stream of violence.
4. REAL MEN reject their femininity!
What? We are the composite of masculine and feminine energies and qualities. How often have you come in contact with a man making derogatory comments about homosexuals or lesbians or people of color or anyone different than them? Gender orientation is a complex issue for many who live silently in their own disorientation. When I hear people bashing a gay man or woman, I quietly acknowledge their struggle with sexuality. Real men are comfortable in their own skin and supportive of others who choose a different life style.
5. REAL MEN can’t show love and compassion!
Yes! Don’t hide from the love that exists within. Real men are loving, sensitive and empathetic. Open yourself up to the only facet of life that means anything: love and compassion for yourself and others. Be the light that shines on true masculinity.
Jul 18, 2015
5 Acts of Empowerment via the Christ PathGrowing up a Roman Catholic in the 60s, I recall priests and nuns cajoling in my aunt’s living room, sipping ...
Jul 18, 2015
5 Acts of Empowerment via the Christ Path
Growing up a Roman Catholic in the 60s, I recall priests and nuns cajoling in my aunt’s living room, sipping whiskey sours and extolling the negative virtues of non-compliant churchgoers. Like so many Catholics, I went through the motions and somewhere in my late adolescence convinced my mother to skip Sunday mass. Little did I know that the spiritual path ahead of me was to be filled with discovery, wonder and greater understanding.
Fast forward where there was a complete abandon of my religious training and connection to Christ or any other enlightened prophet. Yet, through very challenging times, one prevalent theme echoed within: ‘the living body of Christ.’ Sure, I had grown up with the ‘body of Christ’ transfigured into the communion wafer offered during the mass, but what did it all mean?
It was not until facing my own alcoholism and addiction that clarity was found. The message resonates boldly today. The ‘living body of Christ’ is all of us, individually and collectively. Furthermore, when a person acts out of unconditional love, charity and compassion, whether claiming to be a Christian or not, walks as Christ. Christianity calls us to our own divinity. Yes, living in the essence of Christ’s actual example opens the door to our own divinity. We are the light that the world needs to see. Only light can cast a shadow in the darkness.
The Christ of my understanding was not only prophetic, but also a man of action. This same quality of action empowers us today, whether Christian or not. We are born into this life, innocent and imbued with divine sacredness and love. The seed of divinity resides within each of us, waiting to be manifest.
5 acts of empowerment exemplified in the Christ path:
The Christ path is an empowerment of our own divinity and a reminder to WAKE-UP!
Jul 15, 2015
7 Reasons to use eHarmony!Last time I checked, half of marriages in the US still end in divorce. My own painful experiences strongly support statistical percentages. ...
Jul 15, 2015
7 Reasons to use eHarmony!
Last time I checked, half of marriages in the US still end in divorce. My own painful experiences strongly support statistical percentages. So where does one go to find lasting romance? And after experiencing the misery of divorce and the sheer terror of dating as a middle-aged man, what steps can one take to find true love? My own best efforts rendered me defeated, misunderstood and reeling from the pulverizing reality of destructive relationships. Even when one is open to change and ownership of their part in a failed marriage, the emotional and spiritual rupture can be overwhelming and indelible. Good news! One online dating service provided me with the confidence and courage to successfully reenter marriage and not only find compatibility but also a partner who shares my passions, encourages my honesty and harmonizes my zest for life. You too can finally find love and success in romance. eHarmony has the recipe!
I tried other dating sites, but they fell short of eHarmony’s method of using 29 dimensions of compatibility. By the use of effective questioning, eHarmony identifies core traits and vital attributes of each person to find a more precise compatibility. This process leads to an honest selection process predicated on clear areas of agreement as well as those human characteristics that can stop a relationship dead in its tracks. Yes, “must-haves” and “showstoppers” are also identified.
If you are single, divorced, widowed and discouraged by the dating scene, I understand completely. Take the time to invest in your future relationship by working the EHarmony program.
7 reasons to choose eHarmony.
The 29 dimensions of eHarmony’s profiling are centered on honest answers to the questions posed. Take the time to be honest about yourself. Answer the questions with a sincere heart; be open and vulnerable. This is a MUST.
MAKE THE TIME-
I recall spending several hours completing the first profile. I also remember being time constrained and frustrated by the number of questions asked. Give yourself enough time to accurately answer the questions with authenticity and clarity. Your initial investment of time and energy will be well worth the effort.
ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT-
This includes all aspects of your life. You already know something about mistakes made in past relationships, desires left unspoken, actions, reactions and painful disconnects. When selecting past partners, where did you go? Were there indicators early on that provided a glimpse of what to expect or were you simply blindsided by the hormone Oxytocin? Either way, you now have a chance to be completely honest.
So many of our boogiemen are fears based on vaporous nothing. So, too, are those deeply held secrets, tightly wound inside and covered so that no one can touch, see or experience. Intimacy demands uncovering what you hold within. Answering questions from eHarmony is the start of honest sharing that can and will evolve into intimacy if you select the right partner.
NOT A DRESS REHEARSAL-
As I state frequently in my work at Illuminate AMbitions, “This is not a dress rehearsal. This is the REAL DEAL!” We are not practicing to live our lives. If you want a successful life-filling relationship, act with purpose. Come forward with all you have in a genuine manner, sharing the good, bad and the ugly. And ask for the same from a future partner.
STAY WITH IT-
The eHarmony program takes time. There are levels of engagement requiring step-by-step completion. Go into this endeavor with the realization that it is an investment of time, energy and passion. Do not let up.
You will find the program captivating if you allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy the ride! The trepidation you have experienced in attempting to go it on you own is mitigated by eHarmony guiding you toward success. Be enthusiastic and joyful as you navigate through the process.
Jul 14, 2015
5 Reasons to be REALAt Illuminate AMbitions, our logo includes the statement, “Bring your I AM into the Light,” signifying the heart of our work. Embedded in ...
Jul 14, 2015
5 Reasons to be REAL
At Illuminate AMbitions, our logo includes the statement, “Bring your I AM into the Light,” signifying the heart of our work. Embedded in this aspiration are qualities of integrity, honesty, compassion and a driving force to support clients and organizations in bringing forward their soulful and spirited essence: their truth! Clients, customers and employees share the same unique quality of being ‘human.’ We know the difference between rote systematic adherence to policies and procedures in the business world. We also have a keen knowing when someone is being genuine as opposed to speaking corporate talk, the company line and mouthing words that relegate us to a number rather than an individual. One of the greatest competitive edges in business today is authenticity. Professionals and companies that embolden practices based on authentic truth differentiate themselves from the rest in a bold manner.
In life, as in business, our feelings impact our decisions. Years ago when purchasing an automobile, I decided to avoid the tumultuous dance of a salesperson having to ‘check with their manager’ over and over again to achieve the sale. I did research and was perfectly competent and knowledgeable. Rather than go through the car buying tug-of-war, I gave my price and said, “take it or leave it.” Since that time I have incorporated this method into many areas of my life. Today, the ‘take it or leave it’ strategy has transformed to, ‘Here is my true self. Accept me or not.’
I may not have control over others’ thoughts, actions and methodologies, but I do have control of my own inner psychic world. In my recently published book, Conscious Leadership: 7 Principles That WILL Change Your Business and Change Your Life, the first conscious principle is, BE THE REAL YOU. As stated in the book,
“For many years I played the part of who I thought others wanted me to be: high performer, successful executive, strong male figure, breadwinner, husband and father. Years of subduing my true self brought only unhappiness and a sense of dread. I had a falseness that others would feel as an undercurrent in our interactions. When I was able to start sharing the real Michael as a unique and loving person, people around me began to have a very different experience. “
Better products, improved customer service and operational excellence are important attributes for a successful organization but authenticity separates good from amazing. Dare to be honest. Build strong ethics and integrity for yourself and your organization. Authenticity changes the playfield in a big way!
Here are 5 reasons to be REAL.
AUTHENTICITY ignites human connection-
Human beings are highly complex superconductive electromagnetic miracles. As electrically charged beings, the flow of positive energy elevates to a higher frequency when we are honest and genuine. You are never better, stronger, more creative and compelling than when you are your TRUE SELF.
AUTHENTICITY opens the door to vulnerability-
When we are vulnerable, we are dropping the false trappings of title, status and formality. Human beings want to connect. Being open and honest, even in acknowledging your shortcomings and mistakes, is life affirming and builds union.
AUTHENTICITY creates openings for learning about others-
If you live your life on the fringes, always afraid of opening up to more, letting fear be the guide as opposed to love and compassion, you miss out on the wonderful experience of learning and knowing others from a deeper, more meaningful level. Being authentic creates room for others to do the same.
AUTHENTICITY requires consciousness-
When you decide to show up as the REAL YOU, you have consciously moved into a different realm of reality, one of expansion and much greater connection. Becoming aware of being aware means stepping into the present tense. There, you are better able to make different choices, ones that uplift you and others.
AUTHENTICITY changes your world perspective-
When you no longer need to hide behind what others want you to be, or say, or do, you put aside the lies, the falseness and open up to a world of endless positive opportunities. Try it, you just might like it!
Jul 11, 2015
5 Myths About FEARFear has prevented me from living true to myself and from taking prudent risks. But fear is a broad catchall for other negative emotions. ...
Jul 11, 2015
5 Myths About FEAR
Fear has prevented me from living true to myself and from taking prudent risks. But fear is a broad catchall for other negative emotions. Fear is based on future outcomes that, in most cases, do not occur. We tend to separate emotions of anger, hate, jealousy, betrayal, resentment, sadness, hurt, and discontent from fear. Yet, all are tentacles of the same root cause: fear. This pattern has pulled me away from honest self-expression, meaningful exchanges of love and compassion while also limiting my leadership ability and catalyzing a life governed more by the incessant false ego than the universal gift of love in all its magnificent possibilities. The outcome is living well below my full capacity as a friend, partner, professional, father, husband, lover, and contributing member of my community.
I recall my shyness as a young boy, feeling insecure that I would be left behind. It was not until well into my adulthood that I understood that this fear was attached to my being given up for adoption. The fear manifested in my creating a life of falsehood. Creating a safe haven where the real Michael was hidden became a primary objective, for to open that door would show me as unlovable and someone to be cast aside. After failed marriages, less than desirable professional outcomes and lethal addiction, I realized the fallacy of my life’s journey. The change came as a result of slowly tearing away the fearful foundation upon which I had constructed my reality.
In the continuum of life, on one side exists fear. On the other side are love, compassion and understanding. Fear and love do not exist in the same room, yet fear can be a powerful ignition switch leading to love if one becomes conscious to his/her psychic themes. As with all of life, it involves making a choice.
Waking up to the power of fear can be liberating if one chooses to see fear for what it is and what it is not. Either way, the choice involves recognizing the difference between light and dark, fear and love, authentic and false.
Five myths about fear:
Jul 06, 2015
Jul 06, 2015
Tuning into the recent Women’s World Cup competition stirred my soul, prompting me to reflect on how despairingly unjust our world is when it comes to the beauty, intelligence, talent, power and rich complexity 51% of the world’s population possesses. Without doubt or hesitation, women have suffered and continue to be cruelly objectified and diminished by our male dominated world order. This was aptly apparent from the insidious comments made by former FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, infamously suggesting, “…that the sport could gain some popularity if women would be playing in “tighter shorts.”
Watching our USA women’s team dominate and ultimately win the World Cup 2015, gave witness to the extraordinary strength, agility, mental toughness and sheer elegance these magnificent athletes demonstrated during this world event. And even more impressive is the balance observed between attributes normally ascribed to men, including: power, confidence, risk-taking, decisiveness, and strength while juxtaposed to those on the feminine side, inclusive of: caring, valuing others, giving, selflessness, persistence, kindness, compassion, patience and empathy. I stand in awe of these women athletes, not simply because of their superior talent, but rather due to what I see as tremendous balance of feminine and masculine energies.
The unfortunate reality of our present world order is the longstanding institutional adherence to the societal construct of diminishing, minimizing, subjugating and marginalizing women. Yes, in the USA as well, for it was not until August 19, 1920, that the 19th Amendment to our US Constitution granted women the right to vote. And still today, women are not on equal ground in many areas of our shared experience, including pay. According to the American Association of University Women, the average pay gap has not changed in a decade with 2013 research showing that women made 73% of what men were paid for the same jobs. Even more unjust is the pay gap for women of color as well as the fact that the pay gap increases with age.
What if your version of the Divine or God was a woman? Then what? For most men they would crumble under that reality; for over the millennia, our world order has been shaped by male dominated violence, brutal self-interest and a complete failure to recognize our sisters as integral and equal shares of the whole, the Divine, the nature of ALL. Indigenous tribes have long worshiped Mother Earth and Father Sky, symbolically and pragmatically living true to the universal balance between masculine and feminine energy and source. We are both masculine and feminine at our divine core. Our Yin and Yang energies are one, not separate and apart, but infused in our psyche both individually and in the collective. Yet, we operate on a frequency that undermines truth, perpetuating an ego-reality of separate and NOT equal.
Given this picture, what can be done to improve and realign us to equality, compassion and the true nature of our Divine soul? Here are five ways to equalize the playing field.
We can do better as a human family. Start NOW!
Jul 06, 2015
Jul 06, 2015
Not unlike others, I have struggled throughout my life with an undercurrent of ‘not enough;’ not enough money, time, fun, relaxation, love, sex, friendship, and on it goes. Concurrently, feelings of not ‘being’ enough have haunted my relationships from primary parental to casual friendship and intimate partnering. So now into my sixth decade walking on planet Earth, I finally have come to see the fallacy as well as the societal structure that supports us in thinking, believing, acting and living our lives in failed human connections and never quite feeling complete.
Our human story is replete with examples of control, power, greed and unfortunately violence, brutality and human failings. Our culture, certainly in the United States and most Western societies, functions on a well-oiled machinery that raises us to think of ourselves as contributing citizens, tax payers, and generally obedient people. This acculturation starts at birth with our parents setting the stage for what is to come. By the time we are able to walk and utter a smattering of words, we are being trained to align with accepted behaviors, gender identification and to basically ‘play nice in the sandbox.’
The exuberance of an unfiltered child’s experience quickly is halted with, “stop making so much noise,” or “stop singing, dancing, yelling, acting out, and so many more adult chiding directions. What we learn early on is to stop exploring with unabated curiosity and become good little citizens. But where did our uniquely beautiful and soulful self go? Tragically, our most passionate and spirited essence is tucked away in the dark, sometimes for an entire lifetime.
As a huge fan of TED Talks, I recently viewed a news article from 60 Minutes where Charlie Rose interviewed Chris Anderson of TED. During the fascinating interview, Anderson passionately pointed out that TED Talks are successful because the speakers share not only a story, but also a piece of themselves in an authentic and genuine manner.
After viewing the news article, I was deeply impressed by Anderson’s insight around the critical importance of letting others see the real you, not the person your friends, spouse, children, company, community, church or any other organizational group molds you into. Being vulnerable means being human. We all want to connect with others from a genuine point of view. But for many, the child’s curiosity and excitement about living was buried deep within the recesses of our internal wiring, leaving us with gnawing fear and angst in showing our true selves.
What are you passionate about? If you did not have to work to support yourself and family, what would you do? In my coaching practice along with the years of working in the corporate milieu, I have seen firsthand the destructive nature of living a lie, settling in a job that ‘pays the bills’ and keeps the family afloat. And the same fear that prevents us from pursuing our passions professionally, affects our decisions regarding personal relationships. A large portion of my clients suffer in strained relationships because they are living a lie, not being themselves and fearful of asking for what they want in an intimate relationship.
Here are four reasons to drop your guard to vulnerability and take the chance to BE REAL.
Choose to be vulnerable. The outcomes will surprise you!
Jul 02, 2015
Jul 02, 2015
Parenting is not for the faint-of-heart! In my experiences as a father in a blended family, what I may have anticipated as issues and challenges played out in surprising ways. For is it not true that the greatest learning and growth happens in intimate relationships where all emotions are visible, even those unexpectedly arising from deep within?
In 2005, I met my wife, who was knee-deep in playing both mother and father to her two sons, 13 and 14 years of age. Blending our families brought with it tremendous change, requiring a level of patience and consciousness I had never experienced. And over time, years in fact, my own inner conflicts and psychic pain points associated with my own father’s alcoholic dysfunction, started to play out with our middle son, Matthew, who chose to remain with us as we moved across country to pursue employment opportunities.
What I discovered in dealing with upheaval and uncertainty, brought on by Matt’s involvement in a fraternity during his junior year of undergraduate school, was how imprinted I was from the harsh criticism and sarcastic manner my own father imposed on me during my college experience while attending Syracuse University. He would caustically barb his comments at whatever topic I was pursuing, claiming that a good debate is healthy. What I came to see, only recently, was how painful and negative his affect cut me, not from a healthy debate but rather from his own searing pain and loss attached to his own life’s malaise. Certainly his alcoholism was his way of trying to escape a destiny of inner turmoil and lack of courage to face his tremendous inner pain.
My interactions with Matthew became unconsciously sharp and critical, always looking for the shoe to drop at any given moment. After several tenuous events, and with the loving support of my wife, I realized what was happening. The breakthrough was immense in realizing that I was repeating-to-forget. Breaking the cycle of psychic projection of my own pain and anger became my operating motive. Since that time, I have become much more aware of my tendency to act out my own pain points, thus being far better equipped to insert love into my interactions, measured of course with steadfast consistency necessary for building a healthy intimate connection between father and son.
Out of my own experiences, I have come to understand how critically important it is to be conscious to my inner conflicts, those fires that smolder, sparking outward behavior that does nothing to advance love, compassion and understanding.
Here are five important considerations for parenting in a blended family.
Peace comes from within. Quell the fires and be the most loving parent possible.
Jul 02, 2015
Jul 02, 2015
Which do you choose?
This past week brought with it a myriad of major news stories catalyzing topics that clearly demonstrate a polarity of opinion, belief and choice from our citizens. The Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act and legalizing gay marriage for the entire nation, as incredibly powerful and uplifting the decisions were, pale when viewed against the backdrop of yet another mass killing at the hands of a twenty-one-year-old, hate-filled racist in Charleston, S.C. And embedded in these issues are deeply held belief systems, historically passed along from generation to generation, that demonstrate just how severe the rift between those on the right from those on the left, conservatives vs. progressives, elite vs. everyone else and unfortunately, the North vs. the South is in shadows of a continuing Civil War.
How many racists view gay marriage as an abomination? Do supporters of flying the confederate flag actively support the LGBT movement? Are left-wing liberals supportive of the 2nd Amendment or the rights of KKK members to march and picket? In all these issues and more, we tend to take a position and stand by it relentlessly, unable to see others’ opinions and beliefs. When viewed this way, choice becomes very narrow.
Putting aside for a moment the uncovering of the two justice systems in our country, let us rejoice in the Supreme Court declaring that all our citizens, straight and gay, can now live with, love and marry whomever they want, affording our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters the legal rights associated with marriage. This polarized evolution over the past decade portends optimism and forward momentum. But are we able to bend enough to acknowledge and find room for differences of opinions?
Here are 5 tips that can transform hardline, uncompromising stands moving us from dark to light:
The choice is yours to make. I choose light and love.
Jun 28, 2015
(Throwing away your watch! Showing up for your life! Time is not what you think!)Time to rise, time to act, time to get going, time to leave, ...
Jun 28, 2015
(Throwing away your watch! Showing up for your life! Time is not what you think!)
Time to rise, time to act, time to get going, time to leave, time to move, time to decide that this thing we call time is not real. Can you touch it? Yes, our world operates from a time clock, minutes, seconds, hours, time for dinner, time to fight, time to apologize, time to plant, time to harvest, time, time and more time, yet not enough time.
Why are we so caught up in time? Are we simply operating from a point of contextual organization, a construct that gives meaning to living as a human being? Did the ancients understand this concept differently, whereby the human condition was in sync and cooperative with nature and the greater universe? And how have we devolved so harshly to live our lives caught in the paradox of time and its limitations.
Perhaps the grandest paradox is the collective psychosis of continually wanting more, yet operating in a world limited by twenty-four hours in a day, 7-days a week and 365 days in a year. We purchase cable channels only to have enough time to view a handful. People go on a week’s vacation to visit four European countries, six cities, multiple side tours and come home exhausted, needing another vacation to recover. How much can we cram into an hour, a day or a week? Our incessant need to keep up with the newest Apple product creates an individual and collective malaise of never being satisfied, never feeling calm and always needing something else.
We order reality based on limitations attached to the clock. 6:00am, the alarm buzzes. Ready, set; go– off to the races. Teachers teach to the bell. Workers work forty-hours a week, Monday through Friday. Trains, planes, rush hour traffic, buses all run according to schedules. Tuesdays are spaghetti nights, while Fridays are pizza nights. We schedule time for lovemaking. Weekends are for sports viewing, beer drinking and Sunday hangovers. And then– it’s right back into the tick-tock of our ordered chaos with its perpetual disharmony of never having or being enough.
Order is necessary, but are we living in a world that demands something more relevant than the limitations of time? If so, what would this new reality be? Here are a few suggestions to help us wake up:
Now is the time to stop the train of unconsciousness by turning off the autopilot and waking up. There is ample time for everything we need and want!
Jun 28, 2015
Jun 28, 2015
In a scene from House of Cards, First Lady, Claire Underwood, is going door to door for her husband’s campaign. She meets a woman holding a baby in her arms looking tired and disheveled.
Hearing the woman state that she would not be voting for Underwood, Claire asked to speak privately. The mother shares details of her husband’s extramarital flings and fantasizes about suffocating her infant with a pillow and being free again.
As challenging and reprehensible as this dialogue is, it reflects a level of honesty that many new parents might share at times when their child cries incessantly or struggles to sleep soundly at night.
Might I suggest not following this course of action but rather exploring facets of parenting that are illuminating. Yes parents, time to wake up and smell the hot chocolate! If I only knew then what I know now I may have chosen parenting options differently. So, what are some of the conscious choices we can make in parenting our children?
10 parenting options:
The hot chocolate is waiting for you!
Jun 28, 2015
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” -Lennon and McCartneyThe act of being is quite beautifully the trick to ...
Jun 28, 2015
“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”
-Lennon and McCartney
The act of being is quite beautifully the trick to living, for it is in the presence of being that we exist right here, right now. The ultimate question is how do you want to live your life in this moment? Oops, it just went away! But alas, here comes another one, and another one.
Perhaps the greatest aspiration we desire is to have love in our lives. What about you? Are you living your life filled with acts of love and kindness? Do you have love, in its many forms, encircling your experience from spouse, partner, family, community and professional associations? What are you doing right now to pursue your passions? Are you honest about who you are and what you desire? These questions and so many more nudge us, stirring our passionate hearts, moving us in the formation of our thoughts, intentions, choices and reality.
It is often said that you cannot love another unless you love yourself. How do we love ourselves? And how do we prepare to love? Is it an endurance contest where we work out 30-minutes a day or is it an inside job of cleaning up our internal messes, shedding the lies we tell ourselves and being honest about who we are and what we want?
In my experience, the crucible elements in the alchemy of loving are embedded in our inner psychic world. To be or not to be, that is the question! As in all other areas of your life, quelling the fires within is paramount to living the life you desire, one filled with love, compassion and understanding. But to achieve this requires a healthy training program.
Wake up and be the lover that you are.
Jun 28, 2015
Jun 28, 2015
Ok, so you have arrived at the conclusion that people are simply out of their minds, insensitive and completely self-absorbed. And yes, at times you may want to live on an island away from the madness, but you quickly realize that this option, while possible, is not within the realm of a rational human being like yourself. So then what?
We are on planet Earth not as an island but in relationship with others. Our relationships define our reality. From the intimacy of a love partner to the broader family, personal, professional and community, we tend to struggle trying to maintain ourselves in relation to others. My observations show a population of people failing miserably in maintaining strong and vibrant relationships.
The success rate in marriages continues to be a 50/50 proposition. It is commonplace to accept extramarital affairs, domestic upheaval and violence, as well as an epidemic of bitter lawsuits over anything from failed business ventures to copyright infringement of songs and everything under the sun. And then there is your professional world comprised of different people with different points of view, all vying to gain the upper hand in their quest for success.
What is the secret sauce to maintaining healthy and life-filling relationships? Here are 5 recommendations for improving your relationships.
Wake up and gain control of your relationships. You can’t afford not to!
Jun 28, 2015
Jun 28, 2015
What happens when you turn your light on? No, not the light switch in your bedroom, living room or kitchen, but the light within. Are you aware that you have a light to turn on? Well, you do and it is time to wake up to your luminescent self!
Perhaps the most shared characteristic among all of us walking on the planet is fear. Imagine for a moment, 7 billion human beings walking around, heads down, eyes averting the direct stare of those we encounter, hiding behind our insecurities and past pain points, staying under the radar and just trying to blend. And you may actually believe that you are the only one, the exclusive human being caught up in the fear of being seen. Well, think again, for most people live their lives with their lights dimmed or in so many cases, turned off completely. Why do we live this way?
Fear with it’s ugly tentacles of resentment, anger, jealousy, self-righteousness, greed, vengeance, and pride prevents us from realizing our illuminated and loving selves. On the continuum of life our choices come in two distinct flavors: fear and love. It is said that fear and love cannot live in the same space. This fact is true. So why do we choose fear over love? The answer leads us to the realization that we are simply living our lives unconscious to the reality that we can shift our focus to become awake and conscious to the power we each possess.
Here are the steps to follow in turning on your love light:
Jun 28, 2015
Jun 28, 2015
Sadness has turned to ANGER.
The vivid memories of walking across the Safeway parking lot at the corner of Ina and Oracle in Tucson, Arizona, on a sunlit morning of January 9, 2011, still haunt me. Yes, I was there for the shootings and killing of six innocent citizens, including an 8-year old girl and a former Federal Judge. I witnessed the stretcher being wheeled across the parking lot to an awaiting ambulance to take Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords to the medical center to save her life that Saturday morning. And yet, we continue to witness gun violence and racial hatred rearing its ugly head-time-after time, killing-after-killing. And now, nine more African American citizens are dead in Charleston, murdered in a house of worship by a self-proclaimed racist wanting to start a racial war.
How many people need to die senselessly at the hands of racists, haters and agents of self-justified violence? The American experience is not one of justice, fairness and protection. On the contrary, the American experience is divided between those who live the dream and those who, in today’s world, cannot even hope for a share of the pie. For those in control, killing our own citizens not only propagates a culture of violence justifying the need for guns, but continues to further erode the fact that we are all connected. What happens in Charleston or Ferguson or Cleveland or Staten Island or Baltimore or Tucson or in your own back yard affects all of us. Any act of violence injures us all. And these killings aren’t happening in the Middle East! These killings continue here in the USA. How many children die in the streets of Chicago or Detroit or Los Angeles as a result of gun violence, poverty and despair?
I am tired to hearing the sad eulogies of lives taken before their time, the killing of innocent human beings and the inane, truly evil beliefs of NRA proponents and the abysmal failure of political leaders to have any sense of courage, justice, dignity and respect for those targeted, especially our citizens at the least end of the continuum. Jon Stewart delivered an impassioned editorial during his June 18th show, in which he expressed his incredible distain while giving us an accurate assessment of the most serious concern regarding this incident. He said, “I’m confident, though, that by acknowledging it (killings), by staring into that and seeing it for what it is, we still won’t do JACKSHIT. Yeah, that’s us! What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves.”
While my heart and spirit are heavy with compassion and love for the families of those killed, it’s time for the rest of us to stop grieving and to take ACTION. When will we as a human family stop the senseless killing? It is time to WAKE UP!
Here are five ACTIONS that will make a difference:
DO NOT ACCEPT INACTION! DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY AND ACTION!
STAND UP TO HATRED AND RACISM.
Jun 28, 2015
Jun 28, 2015
On the eve of Father’s Day 2015, I wrestle with my role as father in continuing to espouse and advocate principles and practices that provide a model for my sons to follow. In all honesty, this role is becoming increasingly difficult. To find truth one must sort through a current world order that does everything in its power to subjugate and distort a version of truth to the highest bidder. Money, power, greed, special interests and self-serving corporate leaders seem to have stolen truth. If you repeat a lie over and over again, it soon becomes a truth.
Even the founding fathers who carefully crafted our Declaration of Independence would be ashamed of how far we have wandered off-the-farm with interpretations and practices employed by political leaders, corporate executives and industries propagating their own self-interest with little regard for the citizens it’s practices impact.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
Our recent history demonstrates the fallacy of the indelible words of our Declaration of Independence. Obviously, all men are NOT created equal, as the many recent examples clearly show. From the exoneration of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin murder case to the Mike Brown murder in Ferguson, the Walter Scott shooting in North Charleston, the Eric Garner killing by police officers in Staten Island, the Freddie Gray death at the hands of the Baltimore police and the most recent heinous, racially motivated hate killing of nine African-American worshipers in one of our most revered churches in the South all expose the unequal application of justice in our country.
Even as testimony from survivors of the attack in Charleston describe the 21-year- old shooter’s statements as racially motivated by his own words, proponents and right-wing media personalities act to divert what is truth by declaring this unthinkable act as an attack against Christianity, a false sound bite making noise, especially with the Republican primary circus underway.
Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina, when asked by CNN about the shooting, remarked, “I just think one of these whacked out kids. I don’t think it’s anything broader than that.” Rick Santorum, interviewed in a radio talk show, stated, “…you talk about the importance of prayer in this time and we’re now seeing assaults on our religious liberty we’ve never seen before. It’s a time for deeper reflection beyond this horrible situation.” And former Texas governor, Rick Perry, chose to throw anti-Obama criticism into the fray, “This is the M.O. of this administration, any time there is an accident like this — the President is clear, he doesn’t like for Americans to have guns and so he uses every opportunity, this being another one, to basically go parrot that message.” It appears that it may be truth that Republican candidates share a common thread that the blatantly racial hate crime committed in Charleston was an attack on religion rather than pure unfiltered racism at its core. Again, truth is in the eye of the beholder and for some, their truth is to turn a blind eye to what is clearly fact: racism and hate are thriving in America.
To revisit the Declaration of Independence once more, not only are all Americans, including those of color, given the unalienable right to, “…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but, “…whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government.” Tyranny, you say? Yes, exactly. At what point in our current American experience do we seek truth in acknowledging the fact that racism is a shared reality for all of us.
We are all sinners and saints, divine and evil, loving and yes, racist. So many people speak about the grieving process and the necessary healing that must occur after such heinous acts of hatred and targeted violence. This process is very important but prayers, forgiveness and healing, while essential, fail to coalesce into meaningful action necessary to transform our collective unconsciousness into a different reality, one of love, true equality and understanding. Not until each of us acknowledges our part in this entrenched malaise will true reform and structural change occur.
Acknowledging our own firestorms within, those filters and belief systems operating in our inner psychic world is an essential first step to reclaiming truth. We all have a responsibility to contribute to our greater community. When a person of color is unfairly treated, targeted with hate and/or victimized by a system rigged against them, it is our duty and national responsibility to stand up and protect those against whom oppression and tyranny are waged. As a loving father, it is my obligation to my sons and to the greater community that I actively resist, openly challenge and stand up for anyone who is mistreated. To do anything less is to rescind my citizenship as an American and my role as a father.
Happy Father’s Day!