The word ‘consciousness,’ seems to still scare people a bit, as if it is some faraway, spiritual concept left to the gurus, high up in their mountain retreats or in churches, as the custodians of our spiritual wellbeing, to contemplate silently on our behalf. Consciousness goes hand-in-hand with mindfulness, awakening and other spiritual awareness concepts and seems to be irrelevant, inappropriate, and perhaps even in conflict to the world of work, which has traditionally been driven by goals based on profits and returns. It makes sense that we would shy away from this seemingly grey area in the workplace, where there is already so much going on, so many opportunities to disagree and a complex compilation of human emotions, cultures, and motivations without needing to add another, unseen dimension which essentially no-one can agree on.
But what if striving for consciousness within the company can add depth, value and richness to the work experience that does not deter from profits but in fact enhances them through the improvement of human relations and customer relations? What if indeed this is the missing piece, the piece we have all been seeking that will inspire more creativity, less unhealthy competition, and greater alignment within the company?
Consciousness, in its most simple form, means ‘awareness’ as in ‘being aware of self, others and of the environment.’ Becoming conscious within the place of work thus requires a commitment to being aware of ourselves and our colleagues, as a whole, for the purpose of understanding each other, the ideals of continuous improvement and the unleashing of more potential than was otherwise possible. It is no different to Conscious Consumerism and being aware of our footprint on the planet. In terms of Maslow, we are only called to this higher place once we are at the level of self-actualization and all other levels have been met.
The post-COVID, Great Resignation is all about people, as a ‘collective-consciousness’ standing up and saying, ‘we want more than jobs with salaries.’ We want to be seen, heard, and loved, not through signs on the walls- cause we ain’t coming to the office to see them- but through your actions of empathy and compassion, through living the values we are given on day one, through recognizing each other as human beings with needs, wants and desires, not just as dispensable working machines, who will provide the goods, month after month under unacceptable circumstances.
A commitment to consciousness within a company is a commitment to self-development, through expanding one’s awareness as an active participant in the whole and thus expanding the ability of all around you. Like the Universe we live in, consciousness itself is ever expanding and evolving and thus, in our own quest, we are called to expand and evolve.
Conscious Leadership means developing a deep awareness of your personal short comings and strengths and taking responsibility for your contribution to, be it, poor relationships within the organization, ecologically destructive practices, the awareness of sexual harassment and the inside track on fraudulent activities. Conscious Leadership leaves no room for victims or avoidance. Conscious Leadership requires commitment and accountability to the whole, not simply to one’s own slice of it. Consciousness essentially empowers us and others to become a true participative, co-creator rather than a puppet or a victim.
The rise of narcissism and the media attention it has solicited, has made us aware of the toxic state the corporate environment, at large. Movements like, Me Too, have also raised the bar and are applauding whistle blowers for no longer keeping quiet about those untoward occurrences, conveniently swept under the carpet. Across the planet we see truth no longer seeping through the cracks to the surface but bubbling, boiling, and exploding, demanding attention, wanting to be released for the purpose of change.
Change always starts with self: self-awareness, self-love and self-leadership are closely associated and even intertwined. These are vital components of the rise of consciousness. We are recognising that our old paradigms- where self-love was simply an afternoon at the beauty parlour or a new handbag or car, now has taken on a much deeper meaning. Self-love is having discipline to take care of one’s own physical and emotional needs. Self-care implies healthy boundaries concerning food, exercise, and relationships. Self-leadership means stepping up, having hard conversations, committing to showing up and being honest, versus manipulation of people through pleasing and avoiding the truth. None of these are possible without self-awareness.
Self-awareness, however, can be a terrifying lesson, if not facilitated in a psychologically safe space by an experienced facilitator through a healthy and conscious process. Think of the traditional KPI model of performance assessment. It can be facilitated in a supportive and authentic way that will promote self-reflection and provide opportunities for growth or it can be a daunting experience leaving the recipient damaged, traumatized, and afraid of losing their job.
We were always aware of the importance of IQ and thought that the only measure of success was intelligence, only to realize that unless we also have Emotional Intelligence (EQ) we often find that even the most intelligent people can find themselves failing, especially at relationships. To add to this, we now also have PQ, which is one’s Positivity Quotient, and the ability to shift from ‘below the line, to above the line’ or from negative to positive, in the shortest space of time. This, according to advocates of Conscious Leadership and the studies of Shirzad Chamine, coach and author of NY best seller, Positive Intelligence is a vital, third element in achieving all-round wellbeing, for ourselves and others, in a conscious way. Through Chamine’s techniques, we are able to train our brains to find the gifts, reframe and shift to the positive, circumnavigating our internal Saboteurs and rise, consciously to activate our Sages, for the greater good of all.
In a world gone mad, with stress levels off the charts, let’s not waste the lessons, hard learnt through the onslaught of the COVID-pandemic. Let’s rather consciously choose to learn from them and ensure that, as a workforce made up of human beings filled with emotions, we strive for self-awareness, apply self-care for the right reasons and step up, through self-leadership to create a better, healthier, and more inspiring environment for all.
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