Over the past few years a ton of articles, blogs and numerous books on conscious leadership have been published, adding to the hockey stick uptick on the subject. When I first started working in this field I would describe the players in the field as a set international community, with ebbs and flows, but essentially a virtual club or somewhat fixed community of writers, thought leaders and a few organizational leaders.
Now that the subject has rocketed to such widespread popularity, I think a key distinction needs to be made.
Conscious leadership is not a technique or style that can be learned from a book or a workshop. Conscious leadership is more than a concept; it is a lifestyle. Leaders can learn much of their art from mentors, role models and through experience but to become a conscious leader they must have a commitment to some sort of personal practice.
Having a onetime peak self-actualization experience, or even an incredible spiritual awakening, are insufficient for the leader to maintain the necessary consciousness to lead or live consciously. A personal practice provides the leader with an ongoing routine that serves as a “consciousness workout” so that leading and working consciously becomes second nature.
All-to-often, people have some profound experience and think they have reached some level of enlightenment. They decide they have arrived; this is the negative ego providing a reasonable out for doing any more work.
Being conscious, as a leader or as a follower, requires practice; whether you are a Tibetan monk or a corporate CEO. The conscious part of being a conscious leader doesn’t stay at the office when the leader goes home. He or she takes their consciousness everywhere they go.
Common personal practices include meditation, yoga, massage, martial arts, chanting, hiking in Nature, regular participation in a 12 Step program or any spiritual practice that encourages one to go deep inside, become retrospective and practice mindfulness. Regular retreats, especially silent retreats, are also popular as part of conscious leaders’ personal practices.
There is no perfect personal practice. The key word here is “personal.” Each leader finds his or her own practice that fits them. The good news is that there are unlimited numbers of choices for those seeking higher states of self-awareness.
It also works to have a mix of different practices. I have several practices myself, including meditation, retreats, yoga, 12 Step work, massage, contemplation and attending satsang* – live or recorded. Finding one’s practice is the seeking, the spiritual quest – part of the process of becoming more conscious. And it is all essential to the lifestyle of the true conscious leader.
* “Satsang is a word which comes from Sanskrit meaning ‘to associate with true people’, to be in the company of true people – sitting with a sat guru, or in a group meeting seeking that association.” – Wikipedia