Welcome back to my serieson Conscious Leadership! In this series, I’m going to summarize some key principles from a book I read earlier this year: The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Warner Klemp. With this series, I hope to shed some light on the fast moving trend that is Conscious Leadership, and explain why you should consider integrating these 15 commitments into your existing leadership style or lifestyle, in general.

In Part 3 of the series, we are going to take a look at the second Commitment of Conscious Leadership: Learning Through Curiosity!

COMMITMENT TWO: Learning Through Curiosity

In Part 1 of this series we described the notion of Leading Above the Line or Leading Below the Line. The simple question leaders can ask themselves to determine how Consciously they are Leading is “am I leading below the line or above the line?”

For Commitment # 2: Learning Through Curiosity, the difference between leading above the line versus leading below the line is as follows:

Above the Line: I commit to growing in self-awareness and regarding every interaction as an opportunity for growth. I am open, curious, and committed to learning.

Below the Line: I am defensive, closed, and committed to being right.

Source: The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership

Our Addiction to Being Right

As explained in previous parts in this series, our ‘need to be right’ is connected to our survival instincts. Though, typically, what we truly want isn’t to ‘be right’. Rather, we want to be seen as being right, and be validated and appreciated for being right. This defense mechanism is all about the ego and protecting the ego is a form of modern day self-preservation.

Think of any fact that is inarguably true. Let’s take 2 + 2 = 4. If you were tasked with arguing this point to someone, to prove that you were right about this fact, you may find that you have little steam or motivation to do so. It’s obviously true and you don’t feel the need to defend it as though your ego depends on it. Alternatively, if you think of an issue that you are often fighting to be right about in your personal life, you will likely see that you typically exert much energy into arguing your correctness on the matter.

So what does this mean? Are you actually that certain about your “rightness” on the matter? After all, things that are irrefutably “right” don’t need to be defended, do they? Remember that being “right” doesn’t cause drama. Wanting. proving, and fighting to be “right” does.

Reactivity

Typically, our first impulse to a threatening of our ego is to react. We need to be right in order to preserve our ego and identity, so we may start a round of the “Blame Game”, deflecting responsibility, or do worse things, all of which can seriously damage relationships and organizations, alike. One thing that Conscious Leaders have in common is their ability to interrupt this natural reactivity. Conscious Leaders pause before they react. This allows them to be both more self-aware and more accepting of reality. During this pause, they can realize they are below the line, which provides them the opportunity to shift themselves back to being above the line. They can be aware of how they are being reactive and accept that being right isn’t the end game. They can ask themselves the important question of “why is being right so important to me right now?” and avoid the “Blame Game”, along with the damage that can be done by impulsive reactions. This shift is from being closed to being open, from defensive to curious, and from committed to being right to committed to learning.

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. -Albert Einstein

The Importance Of Curiosity

When we stay curious, we adopt a “Beginner’s Mind”, meaning that we let go of any attachments or assumptions we have of how we think things should work and approach the situation with curiosity and wonder. If you’re interested in practicing curiosity, Marta from Better Humans sums this topic up perfectly in her blog on cultivating beginner’s mind, but for now, here is a quick overview:

“When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavor to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here. Much like a scientist who observes without bias, beginner’s mind allows us to collect raw data. This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning.” — Tracy Ochester

Approaching life with curiosity and openness has many benefits, especially in the workplace. It ignites innovation and it’s crucial if we’re to re-engage at work and begin to experience our jobs in a vital and enthusiastic way.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few. -Shunryu Suzuki

Conclusion

Commit to learning over being right. Decide that even though you will get defensive at times, you will try to shift to curiosity whenever you realize you are below the line. Also decide that you will view everything as an opportunity for growth and learning, and that you value learning above all else.

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Part 4 of the Conscious Leadership series, where we’ll dive into Commitment 3 of the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.

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