I was chatting with a colleague and former coaching client today about where he was ‘at’. Our conversations last year were focused around career and planning the next steps in his career. In listening to his story about the shift in direction for his organisation with the appointment of a new CEO late last year, it appears that the time is now ripe to implement that plan. But, the commitment to change was not present in our conversation. In fact, my colleague let me know that he was going to give the current dynamic until the end of the year before making a decision whether or not to leave. What? In saying that he would make a decision to leave in 11 months time sounded – to me – that he had already decided it was time to exit ‘stage left’, but had not yet ‘owned’ the decision in the here-and-now.
Of course, there are considerations in making such a decision with just one being what to do next and which direction to take. However, he let me know that he was not happy and waiting nearly 12 months to act upon that unhappiness did not appear to be wise. I felt his energy of resistance, blame and frustration at the current situation too … ”It’s not right that this is happening to me!”
Together we explored how his current work situation might reconnect him of his purpose, which was the focus of our time together last year. More specifically, I invited him to consider how – if he was working and leading from purpose – his present experience of his work might inform him of the immediate next steps in bringing forth his purpose.
In essence, we were exploring how his current experience of his life dynamic (of which his work is but a part) might inform his life’s immediate next direction. The perspective I was offering was one of considering one’s life as a practice; that is, remaining connected to, and mindful of, the present moment and how it might inform him of what to do next, when to do it, and how. I asked, “You are ‘here’ having this present experience, so what might this moment tell you of how you best lead-from-purpose at this time?” Reflect-in-action.
This is a question I continue to ask of myself.
In asking this question a myriad of perspectives and lines of inquiry enter my mind, some helpful and others not. In distilling my many reflections and musings, I notice a pattern. In the asking, I notice four predominant ways of experiencing my ‘readiness’ to accept my current circumstances and, as a result, my willingness to lead-from-purpose at that time.
Perspective 1: Resistance
First, I notice that I might ask myself the question, “What is happening TO me.” From this perspective, the energy is one of resistance to what might want to emerge about the future for me, with me, or through me.
For me, the ‘Resistance’ perspective is also an experience of blaming others and/or the environment/context for taking away my sense of control (another illusion of leadership – that the leader is in control). From this perspective it is as though I disown myself. I am not taking ownership for myself within the current context.
Perspective 2: Allowing
Second, I notice that I might consider the question, “What is happening FOR me.” From this perspective, the energy for the situation is not one of resistance, but of allowing. A friend of mine refers to this as ‘graceful letting go’ or ‘quiet allowing’. This is a perspective of openness to the present and infinite unfolding.
From this perspective, I experience myself as beginning to recognise that there is a ‘bigger game’ at play than that which I am currently aware. I say beginning, because I have not yet embraced the experience, but I have started to let go of the resistance of being where I am. In other words, I am not an intentional co-creator (yet) of the current situation or dynamic, but I am beginning to appreciate that someone (or something) is focusing on guiding me. And I have a felt sense that this ‘helping hand’ is inviting me to reconnect with my purpose and passion in the here-and-now.
Perspective 3: Partnership
Third, I notice that I might consider the question, “What is happening WITH me.” From this perspective, the energy is one of co-creation and partnership with ‘another’ also connected with my purpose and passion in the here-and-now. Put another way, from the perspective of ‘Partnership’ I consider the current dynamic and/or context as providing me with a guiding hand to help me clarify how I might best undertake my purpose in this moment.
For me, when I have adopted the perspective of ‘Partnership’ I feel a sense of being more awake to what might really be going on in the here-and-now. Through this perspective, I experience myself as being a more active contributor (yet not in ‘control’) in the immediate dynamic and direction of my life. I am also taking ownership for how I experience my life’s direction.
Perspective 4: Empowered Embodiment
Finally, I notice that I might ask the question, “What is happening THROUGH me.” From this fourth perspective, the energy is one of empowered embodiment in manifesting – in each moment – my purpose. Put another way, I am working through the ‘concept’ of my life within the immediate and current context, without being too rigid around what the specific content of what I may be doing. I am being my purpose in the here-and-now, rather than doing it. To me, it feels like a first-person embodied experience of living my purpose … now.
In a paradoxical way, I also experience myself as in control; whereas, when I adopt the perspective of ‘Resistance’ any experience of control in the here-and-now is not possible. Contrarily, the acknowledgement that my purpose is working through me in this moment allows me to experience what I am undertaking as effortless. As my on coach shared with me late last year, to fully be your True Nature for the world, you need to have clarity of purpose and the absence of resistance around that purpose. Magic happens when I allow my purpose to flow through me is the way of lead others and myself for the world.
Back to my colleague contemplating a career change.
In exploring together these four perspectives in our conversation, we came to appreciate that he is presently working within a perspective of ‘Allowing’ – a graceful letting go. The next evolution of his leadership journey is nigh, even though he is not yet in partnership with it or empowered to embody it deeply in the here-and-now.
What did this realisation mean for him? Simply, to remain connected to the felt sense of what provides him with positive energy each day – and to go towards the light and joy of those experiences. In practical terms, we explored how to step into the perspectives of ‘Partnership’ and ‘Empowered Embodiment’.
For example, we explored how he might best pay attention to his experience of himself in the coming weeks and months – to ‘get onto the balcony’ of his own experience, so to speak – and consider how his more positive experiences might inform him of his purpose at this time, and the next steps in manifesting it through (and beyond) his current work dynamic. We also explored how he might say ‘yes’ to those opportunities that might lead to greater clarity of what the next steps might be; that is, to follow the positive energy (the felt sense of joy) without ‘thinking’ about whether it is the right thing to do. Finally, we explored those projects he might undertake in the coming months in order to further clarify his purpose and have those experiences he may need in order to undertake what is next with conviction.
My own reflections on this conversation provided me a ready reminder of the inherent challenges of being and becoming a more Authentic Leader. I was also reminded of the following three life lessons for my leadership:
- it is from a place of quiet allowing that I am likely to connect with those ‘Partners’ that will travel with me in the exploration of our collective purpose and passion;
- during times of uncertainty and ambiguity it is important that I continue to lean into my fears; and
- probably most importantly, to take ownership and have the courage and conviction to step fully into the experiences my life offers me, just as they are.
So, my purpose is to support the evolution of consciousness towards a more integrated world. I invite you to travel with me.