Clear Confident Leader Weekly Observer, Issue #24
From the Greenbelt of Boise, Idaho, Chill of a Winter inversion
Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict - alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence.
– Dorothy Thompson
People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships - not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem. – Deepak Chopra
We all have opportunities to deal with conflict, whether it is a disagreement in personal relationships, at work, in a community, or between nations. Our challenge is to find creative alternatives for responding to the conflicts we encounter in our lives.
When I grew up I received little formal training in creatively responding to conflict. Not knowing consciously what to do, my body responded unconsciously with conditioned responses we all have, to fight, flee, freeze or appease.
At work I received training in conflict negotiation from people who facilitated initial dialog between the USA and the USSR. It was helpful, however, it didn’t become an ingrained way for me to creatively respond, so I continued to rely on my conditioned responses.
Fortunately, I was guided to pursue a new path through Aikido, a Way of Peace. Two foundational elements are Knowing where I am, and Becoming Present.
Knowing where I am (self-awareness) is being aware of my current physical position, and neurological, emotional, and cognitive states. For example, I could be off balance, have my sympathetic nervous system triggered, feel fearful, anxious, frustrated, or uncomfortable, and have a story running in my mind based on past experiences, current disconnection, or future worries. In this state, I’m not very effective, except for the most basic fight, flight, freeze or appease conditioned responses my brain stem and body know how to do.
Becoming Present, a form of self-management consists of:
- Shifting my physical position to a grounded, centered, relaxed and ready state.
- Activating my parasympathetic nervous system, calming myself to open awareness and choice, and let go of conditioned responses of fight, flight, freeze and appease.
- Shifting my mood and momentary emotional state from fear and anxiety (which leads to tense exhaustion), to empathy and compassion for myself and others (which develops calm energy).
- Letting go of the narrative story that runs in my mind, and becoming clear about my intentions: for compassionate action appropriate to the moment, taking care of myself and others as we create a better future today.
We all have the capacity to develop greater Awareness and Presence in leading our lives and engaging effectively with others.
What helps you lead with awareness and presence?
I work with executives and professionals to make the shift from reacting to the complex, volatile world around us, to creatively leading. Together we build trust, and cultivate leadership and organizational effectiveness to create a better future today. To learn more visit here.
Let’s create a better future today!