My story is probably not much different from most. Every corporate leader has had an epiphany of one type or another in their lives. It’s what you choose to do with it that will mean something.
My leadership philosophy has developed over 20-plus years as an HR professional, entrepreneur and business owner but not without some serious personal and professional challenge. My corporate life faced struggle after struggle. I was continually surrounded by leaders who simply didn’t ‘get it’. They were disconnected and directive. I was putting too much energy into how to get out of their way rather than producing results.
Don’t Wait for the Flood
Why must we wait for the rains to come before we clean out the gutters? My rains came thick and fast. Literally! I had an epiphany while watching the floodwaters of the 2004 tsunami rise up and engulf the resort where I was staying, all except for my own bungalow. I finally had clarity and realized the need for some personal, inner work.
How could I be a success in the corporate world when everything was a self-destroying battle? It was time to meet myself, breakthrough recurring patterns and start to work from my inner core rather than just put a Band-Aid on yet another outer wound.
Reflection for Corporate Leadership
But where would I start? The answer was an unequivocal ‘do nothing’! Overloaded, emotional and reactive beings are incapable of making good decisions, so initially to do nothing was the next best thing. This added another internal struggle – How can one simply ‘do nothing’? What do you do when you ‘do nothing’? I gradually discovered that ‘doing nothing’ is really about doing something – letting go, and then ‘letting come.’
A corporate leader is used to being busy, often for ‘busy-ness’ sake, and by letting go, the ‘busy-ness’ has no excuse to exist. Letting go rids us of action and movement, and takes us into a new skillset for the changing leadership demands of the 21st century… reflection and connection.
How to Reflect
Reflection is the art of stopping, looking, listening and feeling. It allows what needs to appear to appear. It takes time to master the act of doing nothing and being in isolation. Too much too soon can kill the commitment to reflection, so start with short sessions and increase the commitment gradually. Create a space that’s conducive to peaceful contemplation and ‘nothing-ness’ – one that will allow you to turn the mind off (for me that’s fireside); once in that space the silence will be so loud, the peace will be so addictive, the clarity will be so liberating.
Get up close to objects that are far away when operating from a place of busy-ness – spend time with a leaf, a table, the sky – appreciate what the nothingness reveals in these objects. Identify when something feels, sounds or looks great. Recognize whatever appears – it’s there for a reason.
Connection for Corporate Leaders
Connection comes from continued reflection. With continued reflection (and possibly other clearance techniques) comes release of blockages. Intuition is the driver of connection – some may call it gut feeling, inner truth, synchronicity. It’s when effortless solutions appear, things simply flow and energy levels are high. Senses are acutely attuned and messages or signs are both heard and heeded. Connection may not always produce a logical or reasoned response, yet the connection will simply feel right – with no room for doubt.
Real Results from Reflection and Connection
In business, the art of reflection facilitates deep, systemic change and connection. It allows decisions and resources to appear when they will serve best and mitigates the risk of solutions that may hinder business. It allows others to feel the depth of commitment within leaders, which positively influences organizational commitment, aligning decisions to what matters most. It highlights that no one has every answer at their fingertips, and paves the way for respectful and collaborative think-tanks, risk taking in a learning environment and innovative solutions.
Business will forever face negative forces. Laws change, supply chains face challenges and consumer trends change. However, having mastered the skills of reflection and connection along with the bi-product of self-trust, an organization’s executive leadership and employees will confidently co-create a future to successfully face external challenges, aligning actions and decisions to a greater good.
- Debbie Nicol is managing director, business en motion, creator of embers of the world and author of Corporate Embers – business-promoting insights for the soul of the corporation – www.embersoftheworld.com.