“We all have the capacity to embody visions of knowledge and shape reality in different ways. Work is a vehicle for refining this capacity, and learning to work well can help us contact our purpose for being alive.” Mastering Successful Work We become a leader of our own life.
Leadership is NOT about being nice but it is about being fully present and serving your team to help them be the best they possibly can be. Awareness, concentration and energy, your most precious resources, are the means for accomplishing this. Leading others, begins with learning how to lead ourselves.
The challenges of daily work are like a wake-up call for awareness, a reminder to use our time and energy well. Awareness in turn encourages concentration. A deepening concentration supports discipline, which creates the basis for steady focus of sustained concentration and an unleashing of positive, very productive energy. We create a positive feedback loop of accomplishment and joy.
Working in this way, others are inspired by our actions and look to us for direction. Work begins to flow and results come with more ease. Stress and exhaustion do not accumulate.
It is possible to create structures which support this way of being. How do we get started, especially if we are feeling exhausted, confused, frustrated?
Three activities can help create the “inner” conditions for creative effective leadership. They include:
1. Appreciation: Take time to genuinely appreciate past accomplishments (large and small) as well as the opportunities which lie in front of you. This is a very powerful practice when done daily.
2. Take small steps to work “in”. Nothing drains energy like being scattered and distracted. Although concentration involves focusing our energy, it is not a narrowing of the mind; it is a means of opening to work, to experience, to life. Focusing our energy in a light and pleasurable we enter work in a gentle supportive way.
Take a few moments to relax before starting work. Gentle breathing can help, allowing the mind to touch sensations in the body. Sinking into feelings in the body grounds energy and calms the mind. The exercise ‘Fully Focusing’ found in Skillful Means can help.
Fully Focusing: Take a wide view of the work before you for the day. Then gently bring the mind to a single first task. Often it helps to start with something small where you will get results quickly. Set a definite goal and a time to complete it. Set a timer (iphone has a great one). This is both helpful and energizing. Then follow the task through, one step at a time, staying with it until it is completed. Ignore distractions; gently bring your mind to focus on the task at hand.
As you work, notice the quality of your energy. Are you absorbed in what you are doing or only partially involved? Is your mind wandering? When you complete the task, check to see whether you accomplished what you set out to do, and note the quality of the concentration applied.
As you work in this way, you may notice that concentration flows naturally once it begins, and even the most routine work becomes interesting and vital.
3. Transform stress into well-being. Tension is normal, stress is not. Stress is the accumulation of tension and is the manifestation of imbalances in body and mind. A common imbalance is feeling we are giving more than receiving. To learn to receive, learn to relax and open the senses. Specific breathing, awareness and Kum Nye movement exercises can help bring us into the present moment. As the senses relax and open, work itself becomes revitalizing! Communication with others improves. We are learning to tap into an inexhaustible source of energy.
‘Just Seeing’ is a helpful exercise from Joy of Being that specifically opens the sense of sight, our most active sense.
Just Seeing: Take a few moments to gaze at the color and form of a flower or any object you find pleasing. Let your attention slowly trace its shape and contours and vibrate with the energy of its colors. Note tensions in the body, and let them relax one by one, until your body feels loose and comfortable. The eyes too will relax their tendencies to stare at the object and look more gently, observing, but not necessarily focusing on it.
See the flower in its entirety, not paying attention to specific details or seeking to grasp or understand it. Any effort to think about, analyze, or interpret the object directs your senses outwards in a grasping way and constricts awareness. Remain quiet and relaxed; allow the form in front of you to present itself. Any tension that remains will eventually relax, and you will experience the openness of simply seeing.
As we practice opening the senses, we see more, hear more, feel more, taste more, smell more, and know more. There is space for all this to enter and be received. We have more energy! Our actions come into harmony with the environment including interactions with the team and organization. We act naturally to get positive results with more ease and balance. Our potential to lead our lives successfully and encourage and empower others is beginning to emerge.
Please try these exercises at work. Do they help deepen your capacity to lead? What are other ways to deepen your leadership abilities? Share below. I would like to hear from you!