Is your power borrowed or real?
Would you agree that “Power” is the word for what we human beings seem to bow to? Many people find themselves in leadership positions that on the surface make them look powerful — borrowed power coming from positions and titles, corner offices, medals and stripes, academic accolades, money, and fame. But have you thought of what happens if a person in an external power position is stripped of all of the above? What is left? Was this True Power or something else?
A recent fall from power
The story of chief anchor and managing editor of the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams, is a reminder of the fallibility of external power, which can vanish overnight. Williams was suspended in early 2015 from NBC for six months without pay for “misremembering a military incident while reporting overseas” years ago. He seems to have abandoned his integrity and altered the truth to buy himself more acclaim and power — a sure way to self-destruct. Some predict that Williams will not be returning to his former position.
What does true power look like?
Only time will tell if Brian Williams will have the good fortune to use his fall from grace to tap into his real power — the power that can’t be taken away from him, the kind of power that exudes strong core and presence, engagement and inspiration, regardless of rank or riches… That’s “True Power” — the kind of personal power that initiates decisions based on spontaneous inner knowing, generative healing, and the needs of the many versus the few… It’s the kind of power that brings peace, calm, and groundedness to even the most conflicting situations. The kind of power that through history brought hope and encouragement to others so memorably by Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. In an essay called “The Prisoners’ Example: A Study of Nelson Mandela” in the book How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth, I share my views on how Mandela cultivated his True Power while barred from external power.
Upgrading the true power equation
What is it that Mandela discovered while in prison? What is the missing piece in the leadership equation that brings us to True Power? The way I see it is where the ‘self-awareness’ comes in. To most people in business, the term ‘self-awareness’ is a foreign concept and doesn’t belong — but I beg to differ: I believe that self-awareness is the exact medicine needed by leadership in all areas of life at this time in history. It is time to make a transformational impact that will lift us out of the traditional, unhealthy, and unsustainable leadership practices that are now threatening our very existence.
In overview, it is time to add another dimension to leadership today, a perspective coming from the concept of wholeness, from compassion, deep-source wisdom, and higher levels of consciousness. In order to tap into these latent areas of our True Power, the place to start is by looking at the practice of self-awareness.
The hidden leadership tool
Yes — it is something to “practice.” True Power isn’t something we can buy over-the-counter or simply claim overnight. It is cultivated through the long-term habits of constructive self-awareness that lead us to personal mastery. And cultivating self-mastery gives the truly powerful contenders the most indispensable leadership tools, according to Master Huai-Chin Nan, a noted Chinese-Taoist-Buddhist-Confucian scholar:
To cultivate the Self is a Leader’s greatest tool
Commit to your personal self-mastery
In the ‘nineties, while still living and working in Iceland as a practising CEO, I made that commitment to the mastery of my own inner leadership through self-awareness — and the process is vibrantly alive today as I continue the practice. I started out by attending self-development and mindfulness training, doing yoga, and meditating. Now in my everyday life, the present moment, the NOW, is my practice.
Leading through self-awareness
Self-awareness is needed in our leadership toolbox first and foremost for our self-leadership. If we can’t lead ourselves successfully, how are we to be leaders of others? When we have a stronger, inner core and our True Power flows freely, we will be more successful leading our families, our teams and organizations, communities and nations, and participate in the collective global leadership through our role modelling and inspiration. In the e.MILE People Development Magazine article “9 Keys to Being an Inspirational Leader” I share with the readers some of the areas that I focus on as I exercise my leadership muscle.
Our inner world support the outer
Self-Awareness is our capacity to hang out in our inner world to reflect, introspect, and listen for the subtle whisper of guidance, clarity, and knowing which comes from the deepest parts of ourselves and from the Big Mind. We are looking for that deep, inner strength and emotional security regardless of what is happening in our outside world. We are looking to become an integrated human being — the whole-brain leader. That is an inside job and can only be achieved through experiential learning.
Coming from your true power
Where are you at these days? Have you awakened to your inner world? Have you given it the time and attention it needs and deserves to bring you the happiness, fulfilment, and meaning that you long for. We all do — long for happiness, fulfilment, and meaning. And we all need to cultivate our self-awareness to become the most authentic, successful, and inspirational leaders coming from our True Power.