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Its Not What You Think

My work in organizations involves dropping habitual ways of perceiving in order to contact a fresh and subtle perceiving "under the surface" of what is going on. That deeper sense of perceiving allows the emergence of what I call the Engaging Leader, or the genuine expression of myself and the collective.

If we want to develop a deeper, subtler, way of perceiving situations, we need to be relaxed, open, confident, not expecting or demanding anything in particular. And we need to make friends with ourselves-not just casual friends, but intimate friends. Balancing our inherent feminine and masculine.

The feminine ? the magnetic part of self that desires to be nurtured in all areas of your life. Is committed to trusting experiences that reveal self-knowledge. Seeks clarity, truth and authenticity beyond roles, masks and defenses. Feminine in male and female is both firm and yielding, requiring a need to go inward and trust the essential parts of who you are. Inherent intuition is feminine in nature.

You see, brilliant people rarely take the time to reflect on what they do. Reflection assists you in learning from the future as it emerges. When we are not consciously aware of our evolving self, we can get stuck in an old self-image.

Often we get caught up in the speed and pressures of daily life, and our mind and body become disconnected. The mind is off thinking about something and the body moves towards one goal after another on auto-pilot. When we start to slow down, we might notice that mind habitually ignores the body. It jumps around, wanders disembodied and ungrounded. Or mind gives body a hard time- expecting, demanding, judging, and manipulating.

The Engaging Leader has presence as a natural expression, a natural creativity. We aren't interested in struggling to squeeze out a product that is more clever than the next person's. All we need to do is allow our innate creativity to come forth. It is a dance of discipline and openness. It is a balance of form and freedom. We create boundaries and forms that allow for the most space and freedom of expression.

We journey from stiffness to ease, from skepticism to delight, from seriousness to play. This is a step-by-step approach that creates a base of trust. People learn to trust themselves and the situation. They cease to be locked into a solid sense of me and them, or "othering". With soft eyes we see the field or the space. Then we see that the space itself is dancing. We experience each other beyond credentials, opinions, and concepts. We experience the basic healthiness and integrity of our community. We are ready for genuine communication and insight.

It is an invitation to begin by letting mind's attention simply rest, focus, on how the body feels. We pay attention to sensation. We relax, slow down, become familiar with ourselves. We drop the habit of judging. We feel genuine appreciation, even wonder, for simply being present in the body this very moment. A deep sense of well-being comes from feeling at home. We bring mind and body back together by paying attention to sensation in a full, nonjudgmental way. We begin to feel a sense of presence, of being right on the spot without an agenda. Presence of being is our home.

Quieting our thoughts is the opposite of struggling to experience something pure or perceive something special. The purpose is not to dwell on a particular state of mind. It is to be, in a simple and straightforward way, with the everyday beauty, boredom, tension, joy, lethargy, and speed. You have thoughts of your successes, your relatives, your coworkers, the driver who cut you off in traffic this morning, sounds from the neighborhood, how thirsty you are, pain in your legs, fear of failure, fears for your children, and. You are aware of basic dignity, an insect that has landed on your arm, thoughts of basic goodness, thoughts of chores that need to be done, all thoughts.

No state of mind is important. Everything is equal. Everything is simple, accepted clearly and precisely, as it is.

The foundation, the method, and the results of quieting your thoughts are the same. The foundation is your natural disposition to be as you are, to be with your world and your experiences as they are. The method is a reminder to relax and be natural in this way, bring humor to any situation. And the result is settling down with the natural processes of your body and mind, so that your human qualities of intelligence, warmth, and power can be strengthened and evolve. We begin to realize that each moment can be mined for joy.

Organizational life may seem to some like a relatively odd place for spiritual growth; it is however rich with opportunity. So much can go right and wrong. "Stuff" happens: unwanted complications come your way, the service you've been waiting for is long delayed and when it does come it is unsatisfactory, your bright idea is claimed by someone else, your working conditions are lacking and the royal "they" are not fixing them, try as you might you don't seem able to satisfy anyone, this one is angry at you, that one is disappointed, and the other one is not paying you the attention you feel you deserve.

Right away in our habitual thinking we can only be miserable -- there are no choices. We whine in the washroom and complain in the coffee room, make up stories in which we are either the hero or the victim, take revenge, do less than our best, comfort ourselves in righteousness, question the quality of our relationships with others, sabotage our contributions to our organization and to the world, attempt to build ourselves up by putting down others.

The beginning of spirituality comes with the awareness that we can see things not as the way things are, but as a choice. As we recognize choices, we are invited to abandon victimhood and righteousness; we accept responsibility for our condition and for the condition of our systems, we accept our place as co-creators of these conditions.

About The Author

Since the early 1980s, Judith Richardson, M.A., has been pioneering in the fields of sustainable leadership, essential partnership, international teamwork, educational renewal, creating a customer service culture and workplace diversity. Featured in ICFAI University's Executive Reference on Diversity Management, author of Four Keys to Engaging Leadership, and Keynote at International Conferences, Judith was nominated for International Coach of the Year 2003, and works with International Organizational Development across North America, Europe, Jamaica, Denmark, Sweden, Israel and Russia. ( Tel: (902) 434-6695.

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