Self Leadership is essential if we are leading anything or anyone else. Whether as a Corporate executive, a business owner, a team leader, a parent or the committee chair of a community project.
Every new moon brings me to a deeper Inner Awareness and the reminder of how I manage my energy.
Self-awareness, self-management, self-Leadership, includes this inner landscape check-in.
Part of my check-in includes an assessment of where my energy is flowing. Where is it leaking? Where is it being nourished or regenerated?
Where are my boundaries loose? Or non-existant?
Where am I pushing? Where can I be more R E C E P T I V E? (yes, another deep topic for another day!)
Where is YOUR energy flowing?
Right now, it’s easy to be leaking, or losing, energy to all kinds of world issues, climate change created fires and storms, political drama, pandemic unknowns and speculations, not even counting what’s going on with our businesses or career and our own family and circle of friends.
Not very sustainable. Where’s the renewal? Where’s the filling back up?
I learned the hard way after decades of exhausting myself to the point of adrenal fatigue or lying on the couch all weekend to catch my breath, or finally falling into bed sick on the holidays.
One of the leadership competencies I coach women around the most is their Sustainable Productivity. Another is Balance, and yet another is Integrity or Wholeness.
Each of these have in common the tendency to put others first, to believe they are only valued or worthy if they are over-giving, extremely busy or selfless in some way.
So what’s underneath that? The need to Belong, to feel Safe, to feel in Control. Or some other pattern or learned tendency that keeps us from looking at OurSelf. Our needs. Our wants and desires. And our anger, broken heart or sadness or …. What is your’s?
Mine was if I could just keep all the balls in the air I would be superhuman, praised, loved, and valued. If I could do so much to not have time to look within, I could ignore that mess. (Like having really messy closets, with everything looking neat and organized in the public spaces!)
And, it took a while to “find time” to be with the Inner Landscape. To look around, clear some space, breathe into it some of my own Life Force and Love and Light.
Wow. It’s the space created by Centering. Being. And, Presence. To appreciate and know that daily practices of Inner Check-ins are a powerful practice for my soul, physical/emotional health, and business and relationships.
Feeling too much? Like your nerve endings are on the outside of your body and the slightest sensation or incoming news can ignite or trigger or send you into an emotional spiral?
I am with you.
One client recently called it feeling the “collective rawness.” Yes, collective internally and as a global society..
And with no break since March, it’s been quite an onslaught.
The chronic news of Black people being killed by the hands of law enforcement (over and over) is one thing. Add the pandemic and all of its societal changes and fears and mixed news from science and conspiracy theories, another. Add to that the political craziness and hate-mongering and divisiveness AND the continual destructive storms, wildfires, hurricanes, and tornadoes, and we are tired.
Cognitive exhaustion, physical exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, and even spiritual exhaustion are all real.
Our lives are not the same as before March of this year, and we wonder when, if ever, we will resume something that feels “normal.” Our minds are searching for some way to “solve” these problems or our hearts want someone else to “save” us from this mess.
Steven Covey wrote years ago in the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, that it is never a good idea to try to teach or learn when we are tired or emotionally upset.
Guess what? Most of us are both.
And, I’m here to say that Anger is our invitation to create, innovate, move us out of the stuckness and towards what’s emerging. It’s a doorway. How?
Anger has gotten a bad rap. Especially for women. We aren’t shown, for the most part, models of what it looks like to be an angry woman, on purpose, who is still loving and guided by Spirit.
That’s because we haven’t had many. Neither Mother Theresa, who bore her pain silently and alone, or feminists who came across as anti-men and angry. Not the working mother who is worried about her children while taking care of her community and planet and Self (not in that order) while holding down a job. Not women who have chosen not to have children (for their own reasons, because they have a choice) while marching or actively supporting Earth, Gender and Sexual Equality, Racial Justice and healthcare access for our marginalized citizens, nor for those who quietly go about their day-to-day, signing petitions, learning about their role in racism, finding ways to discuss and grow as conscious individuals while making a difference in their own circles by choosing Love over discrimination or hate.
So many ways to be activists. Even by choosing the food we eat, and how we spend our money.
AND, it starts by being Angry. Allowing the fire in the belly to be stronger than the fear of staying silent, standing by, or choosing the status quo for comfort’s sake.
Anger is the beginning of a spiral of emotions and truly helps us become innovators and creators and impactful leaders (and activists).
Years ago, a wise teacher and friend helped me learn about my emotions in this way. Begin by choosing a specific issue that is troubling, that you hate, or that made you angry.
Allow yourself to feel the emotion, speak out loud about it, write it, dance it.
It tends to fade after some focused attention.
Below is something different. Sadness, grief, or fear. Each could come in their own wave.
By asking ”What about this makes me feel sad?” we can get deeper. Feeling the sadness, the grief may be, and letting it be expressed (again through writing, dancing, speaking/crying out loud) allows it to be expressed, felt, and transformed.
Next is probably fear. “What am I afraid of?” Asking over and over till you start feeling the fear, start knowing its source, and focusing on it, even for a few minutes. Sharing out loud to a trusted friend, who is only observing with compassion, not speaking at all, can be cathartic. Letting it out through words, written or prayed, screamed, or softly whispered brings light to the shadow and gets some space around it.
“What do I want/need?” is next. What do I really want to change this? What do I need? It may be that you want the political divisiveness to end, but stay with what’s under your control. What is it that I want to feel instead of this? Expressing it through dance, writing, drawing, imagining then sharing it in some way with the Universe/God/Source is very beneficial.
Then we get to Forgiveness. What can I forgive myself or another for? Again, expressing it orally, through another format is your choice, but put it OUT THERE.
Appreciation/Gratitude is what follows. Express it. To yourself first, then to another if need be and you are called to.
Last is LOVE. It’s the natural progression of following our emotions down to their Source. Our essence is LOVE and when we fall away, step too far from it, feel disconnected, the other emotions are there to help guide us HOME.
Let’s not fear Anger. It’s sacred and needed. The more we try NOT to be angry, the more we can make ourselves sick. It’s like trying to imagine we can shake a can of soda or sparkling water and then open it and it won’t make a mess. The anger WILL explode one way or another unless we guide it back Home. Back to Love.
Want a safe space to do this process? I’m here.
I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, “What do you want, Deborah? Yes, and under that, what do you REALLY want?”
My answers aren’t clearly written out for me or come in an image or picture, they are more of a group of sensations…a softening in my belly and chest, a relaxed jaw and neck/shoulders…an almost cloudy vision as even my vision softens and feels less strained.
Those sensations are my body’s way of telling me the answer. The deep desire within me is most truly felt, not “forced” mentally. It’s a lightening of my energy – and a relaxing into – the space of pleasure.
Whoah, there she goes, getting into that uncomfortable place again!
I’m trying to describe the indescribable (for me, at least). And the power it has to guide us, inspire us and fuel us with the purpose and hope for the future.
So, for many months now I’ve been playing with the mantra, “Open and Soften.” Knowing that the more I do that, I receive some type of guidance, inspiration, or energy to move toward something.
My mind has been screaming, “Open and Soften TO WHAT?”
Yet, my Wise Inner Woman keeps assuring me that is it. That’s the full directive. Open and Soften into Beingness.
So, if you’re reading this, I may lose you here, yet, I truly believe that that is our Purpose. Our role in this wild and precious journey of Life.
Beingness, and a newer version of that I’ll call Inter-Beingness, is my Desire. It sounds simple. And it is not.
Turns out that according to my hologenetic profile from The Gene Keys by Richard Rudd, my Life’s Purpose is to be a Dancer of Beingness. Wow. Still letting that simmer as I contemplate it.
And, the shadow of this lovely state of Beingness, is Self-Obsession. Endless self-improvement, constant searching and learning, and desiring to figure out who I am, what I’m here for and how can I be a better ME?
The pathway of Naturalness finally opened, after exhausting that never-ending loop of searching and self-obsession.
A lovely therapeutic equine helped me to learn about Authenticity and my value in Being. (and that’s another story!)
Hence the beginning of the concept of Authentic Leadership Academy and Consulting. The birth of that name of my business has been a continual reminder to be ME. That, by modeling Authenticity, Deep Integrity, and Humility as a Woman and a Leader, I can serve other women wanting to be a fully, more true, and self-expressed Self and impactful Leader.
All the pieces began to fall into place. From my corporate HR experience to nonprofit consulting and the work with local teens and Native American children, The Leadership Circle certification and coaching, the somatic and embodiment practices of The Art of Feminine Presence™, all the various Strengths-Finder, Energy School, Joy of Goals©, Health Coaching even, all played a role in my Be-Coming.
And now I get to play with ALL of these experiences. And who I am as a result of all that knowledge and wisdom.
So, my heart’s desire always steers me in the direction of growth and Beingness. Or back to Beingness. Or to the next level of Beingness, for me.
Where is your heart guiding you?
After months of diving deep into all of my emotions and Reactive Tendencies (to use The Leadership Circle language I use in leadership development training), I’m ready to feel into what I want. What I’m allowing myself to dream, feel into, bring forth.
Sound selfish? Or out of touch with these chaotic and uncertain times? Or, what does it bring up in you?
Most people’s answer to my question of how they’re doing right now is, “I’m grateful, truly I am.” “There’s so much good in my life.”
And that’s great. To be happy where you are is wonderful.
To feel stagnant, or just “OK” with where you are, or feeling restless; like I do when I’m hungry and keep looking around for something to satisfy that feeling and nothing is quite meeting the need… That means I am, and possibly you are too, ready for something MORE. Yes, we can be grateful for where we are and what we have AND still want something MORE.
Our mind wants desperately to find a plan, to run from what’s uncomfortable, or to deny what we are simply tolerating, versus our Heart – which wants Beauty, Love, to run towards Joy or something that feels good, lights us up, makes it sing!
So, after deepening into and feeling what is truly in my space (physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual) I can then find the acceptance of “Yes, that is what is.”
After pausing there, and really f e e l i n g, we can listen for, or find energy, that rises within.
It’s our heart’s calling. Our body or soul guiding us towards what is next. What do we want, given we are here right now?
This is essential work for any of us on the front lines right now.
The more we feel we don’t have time or energy to devote to finding our heart’s desire or inner guidance, the more we need to practice this inner work. To move towards our next expansion, expression, or growth, it requires an openness to allowing what the Universe wants for us.
The more we can receive. And it begins with the beautiful Desire bubbling up like a wellspring within. Then “await what the stars will bring.”
Our heart is our own tuning fork or unique GPS that can invite divine inspiration, creative expression, or deep healing. Our businesses require us to be open to this channel. Our physical health does too. Artists rely on it to bring forth their heart’s desire onto paper or stage, or through images.
So, when’s the last time you sat and had a cup of tea with your Heart’s Desire? All that’s required is someplace to be still, listening to nature or inspirational music, and maybe a journal or your phone to record what you discover.
Discovering our heart’s desire is more important now than ever.
Let’s do this.
Here’s to developing the muscle to listen to and follow your Desire and see where It takes you!
And typically July for me has always had a theme of freedom.
And as I explore that whole topic of freedom. It feels like it falls into several layers.
There’s the actual reflection on what it is that I want to be liberated from.
Then there’s the action or allowing, of the liberation, of the letting go.
Freedom feels like the final state. It’s the result of having reflected, having let go and now basking in this new state of freedom.
So let’s start with a question, or contemplation, about where are we? What are we holding on to that it might be time to let go of? And if you’re like me, it takes me a while, I have to ponder that thought for a day or two. In my case, it’s been the last two or three days of what runs me. What am I allowing to have control over my life?
And there are several feelings, thoughts, patterns, and stories in my head. I’ll play some suggestions out for you and see if they might help you with your self-reflection.
I was running for a long time the story of money and scarcity. “I’m not secure without financial freedom, without the constant struggling and striving to make ends meet.” So my old story was that I had to constantly struggle, juggle, worry about money.
Then it became: “Take good care of money. Be a good steward and invest it well. Place it or spend it in ways that I feel represent my values.”
It’s been a long time coming.
First, it was wrapped up in gender stuff, and that women need to be dependent and reliant on someone else to take care of them. All kinds of things have been unraveling around that for decades for me.
And finally, I can say that money is not something that runs me. AND, I know for several of my friends and acquaintances, it’s still at the forefront in their lives.
Another one that still has a hold on me in some ways is TIME.
I feel like I’m in a race for time; meeting deadlines, filling the calendar, or noticing the empty calendar and wondering how to spend my time creating and generating income and new clients. What does all that look like? Am I spending enough time taking care of me? Taking care of others? Nurturing my relationships? I look at how I spend my time as it’s my most important commodity.
Maybe the pandemic times have brought about the concerns of our mortality, or not having enough Life Force. And, the importance of Breath.
What will happen to us as the pandemic continues? What will our lives be like? What will Time be like? How will I spend it? How will I invest in the use of this commodity in a way that brings me the most joy and be of the most service to the collective?
So Time is still something I’m playing with, that I don’t feel fully liberated from.
Others are old stories of not being “enough” (what is that anyway?), not having enough support, not being loved enough, not being worthy of love, all kinds of good things like that. Little by little, they’ve been chipped away by choices I’ve made, by risks I’ve taken, by moving forward in one area or another, despite the stories. Proving to myself that they really are not the Truth.
The power of many of those old stories and patterns has diminished and faded.
So what is your self-reflection about what still has a hold on you? Still creates fear or anxiety or reactive ways that are keeping you small… keeping you stuck?
Because that is NOT freedom.
What we want to do this month is look at this reflection of what it is that has a constriction on us. Anything that keeps us from Breathing or holds us back.
And then, with gentle, loving, self-compassionate, and from a safe self-observation place, allowing them to loosen their grip on us … and to Feel.
Opening to the liberation of Life. On the other side. The Life where these do not strangle us from our truth, from our value, from our dignity.
To our safety. Towards our sovereignty. That, to me, is Freedom.