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Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.See Other Books
I first woke up to the idea that I might be in charge of my own mind way back in the late 80s early 90s. Whilst leading a significant business turnaround in a really tough climate I had sought the support of a coach. During the coaching sessions I realised that the personality I had developed was a function of the experiences I had had. More than that, I understood for the first time that my personality might be fit for purpose or it might not be, but either way I could take responsibility for owning it and changing it. Whilst I was exploring this in the context of my work as a leader and change agent, it was clear that the learning and connections I was making applied across all aspects of my life and has significant impact on my life experience and my ability to have impact.
That may have been my initial ‘awakening’, and in becoming awake I took more responsibility for myself and my leadership of others, however the next real breakthrough came some twenty years later. A number of experiences came together to drive the change in me; I met Alan Watkins a neuroscientist and Diane Musho Hamilton, a Zen master. With them I went through the ‘Big Mind experience’ which is an amazing high speed developmental experience; I completed the Complete Coherence LEP and LVP assessment and coaching programmes and I read Matthieu Ricard’s book Happiness. Through these experiences, I came to understand that the whole notion of “self” is just a collection of thoughts, concepts and feelings created by us. The key distinction being that these thoughts and feelings are not us, they are not who we really are or the self we become accustomed to accepting unquestioningly as “me”. Just having this understanding and coming to recognise that I could be an observer of myself and specifically my thoughts and feelings was a transformative moment for me.
Before that revelation, I had been quite reactionary at the mercy of outside stimulus. Now, I am able to take a step back and observe myself. When I do this a particular phrase pops into my head. I find myself thinking ‘look at me’. It’s often accompanied by a description of my emotion at the time, for example ‘look at me getting all irritated’ or ‘look at me getting angry’. The fascinating thing is that the simple observation of that feeling and the emotion enables you to control the emotion. As soon as you observe it, you can’t feel irritated or angry. Observing yourself stops your emotions running riot and so you’re able to stay in the emotional state you want to be in for longer.
Just that tiny degree of shift has had a massive impact on my life and step changed my awareness. Not only at work, but at home; my family has experienced a better side of me with fewer irritated explosions and less negative energy. If I’m doing ‘look at me’, I’m giving myself scope to think about how I can be the best I can be.
‘Look at me’ has given me new space in which to observe myself. It has bought me that moment of awareness so I don’t just react. It may just be a Nano second of extra space, but it leads to more thoughtful responses. Two particular emotions that I have learned to invoke have helped me enormously. The first is curiosity and the second appreciation. These two have helped me to create the space for reflection examination and multiple perspectives. These in combination are helping me to better inform my behaviour choices and actions.
In future blogs, I’ll explore the three stages beyond ‘wake up’. Owning up is about accepting the whole of who you are – the good, bad and the ugly. Having embraced and accepted all of who you are, growing up focuses on what you want to do about it, where you want to take it. Finally, showing up, is about taking back control of your life and being the person you want to be. It’s about being brilliant every single day.
 The notion of ‘look at me’ came to me from a lecture by Sister Jayanti, director of Brahma Kumaris