Contemplative Leadership Development supports the transformation of leaders and, subsequently, those that they serve, by cultivating a stronger connection between inner wisdom – the true source of leadership – and actions taken in the world.
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What are Contemplative Practices?
Contemplative practice refers to any activity that draws our attention inward — relaxation techniques, self-reflection, meditation, journaling, or mindful walking. The purpose is to cultivate a state of awareness that is simultaneously relaxed and highly alert, and to support the quieting of the mind. Over time, as we work with these practices concentration deepens, and patience, compassion, and creativity increase. We eventually access a greater sense of immediacy and vibrancy in our work and our lives.
What does this have to do with leadership?
The highest form of leadership arises from a place of stillness. Recognizing the extraordinary pace at which most leaders are working, spending time in reflection has become a critical, albeit rare commodity. Contemplation has a direct impact on our capacity to take in reality with precision and depth so that vision naturally arises. This is an outward manifestation of contemplative practice.
To become a better leader it is also critical to address the source from which all activity arises – our inner world. Consistently turning our attention inward clarifies our relationship to ourselves and shifts our relationship to the world around us.
One of our goals is to provide tools for going inward in a practical way. We ground our work in the everyday challenges that you are facing, using your day-to-day experience as the grit of our work together. In this way, the problems and challenges that you face provide the working material of all of our sessions.
What are the specific components of contemplative leadership development?
Self and social knowledge:
This work provides the support for you to increase self-knowledge. We are mindful of working within the multiple layers of context that you find yourself in. We work, as well, with your capacity to read others with accuracy and depth. Self and social knowledge are core elements of emotional intelligence.
There is a distinction between self-knowledge and self-awareness. Self-knowledge is intellectual. Self-awareness is the capacity to be present to our experience as it is occurring. This is where the “rubber meets the road” in leadership development. Many leaders have an understanding of their habits, patterns, and tendencies. However, the challenge is to change them, increasing our repertoire of responses in the world.
Change comes through moment-to-moment awareness. This requires strengthening a muscle that most of us never question: the muscle of our attention. By the time we are adults, our habits of attention are often set in stone. This makes change difficult. In contemplative leadership development, we help leaders increase their access to the present moment. This is necessary in order to develop and change in a sustainable way. We all have a desire to live with a greater sense of presence. This is, in part, the lure of going on vacation. When we travel to a place of great beauty, we are often jolted out of our fixed state of attention and into the present moment. As a result, we feel more connected to life itself. Connecting to life in an immediate way re-energizes leaders, and, in return, revitalizes those that they lead.
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
For those who so choose, contemplative development provides the tools to explore the connection between intuition, wisdom, and leadership, impacting creativity and your capacity to innovate. In this work, we use the following principles as a point of departure:
There is an infinite field of intelligent awareness that runs through all of existence. This field has no boundaries and is directly accessible to all.
We access this interconnected field of awareness through our intuition. Wisdom and creativity arises in response to our direct access to this field. This is the font of the highest form of leadership.
Seeking this font of inner wisdom, we discover that the mind often obstructs our capacity to access our deepest knowing.
Leadership development, in this context, refers to a process that helps us address the obscurations that we encounter within. Over time, as we work with our habits we find that our capacity to draw from this endless source of wisdom evolves. We are less preoccupied with both the past and the future, stabilizing our capacity for presence in the moment.
Our negative tendencies, habits of mind, habits of attention, and fears provide powerful clues as to where we might begin this process.
Leaders serve the highest good within any given context when they draw from this infinite field. As our access increases, we serve the mission of our organization with greater purity, clarity, simplicity, and humility. Simultaneously, our personal ambition and ego begi to wane.
Growing in this way, we shift from being primarily preoccupied with ourselves to a capacity for true service.
Practically, we aspire to...
- Help you develop greater clarity of mind
- Re-energize you when you have lost a sense of inspiration and creativity
- Help you through periods of transition
- Illuminate your strengths and support permanent change in areas of challenge
- Prepare you for a promotion
- Address shortcomings that have historically been resistant to change
- Serve as a sounding board when you seek an outside perspective
- Address burnout and chronic stress
results of our work together...
- Leveraging your strengths
- Identifying the limitations that undermine you
- Developing resilience in the face of stress
- Revitalizing creativity
- Strengthening your capacity to innovate
- Refining emotional intelligence
- Developing greater effectiveness interpersonally
- Using multiple leadership styles with greater agility and effectiveness
- Increasing energy
- Increasing inspiration
- Refining your intuition
How do we do it?
Our work begins with an assessment of your leadership including a battery of tests and an in depth analysis of perceptions of you within your organization. Based on this assessment, we set goals. Coaching sessions are conducted virtually, usually on a once-a-month basis, more often if necessary. During the course of the year, you may come to our facility in Taos, New Mexico for an individual retreat. This provides a unique opportunity for reflection away from the daily pressures of the office.
Coaching sessions are creative and dynamic, meeting you where you are and figuring out how to take you to the next level. Our conversations are guided by your core leadership goals, along with the immediate challenges that you are facing on a day-to-day basis. Your daily struggles are like flags marking the exact place where we need to drill down, and we can drill as deep as you care to. Our work together will, at times, be incredibly fun, and at other times, deeply inspirational. Rarely is this work dull. Humor is critical.