There was a professional conference on conscious leadership. I was one of several people invited to give keynote addresses. One of others was Doctor Tony Nader. He is a medical doctor who also holds a PhD. He recently wrote a book and spoke to the conference from the perspective of multiple disciplines on meditation, consciousness, and the perception of reality. At the end of his presentation he took questions.
Someone asked about the consciousness of collectives. He indicated that collective systems either evolve or they begin to be pushed by nature. I call this the deep change or slow death dilemma. A system becomes increasingly aware and consciously adapts, or it begin to break down. It slowly dies and then slow death eventually becomes fast death. Consciousness is critical.
Nader suggested that as individuals and groups experience stress and detect danger, they narrow their focus. Consciousness declines. To me, this suggests that they logically analyze their problems based on their old belief systems. In this logic governed by ego, they objectify what they observe, and they distance themselves from what they observe. As they become trapped in their egos, something else happens. The external world is perceived as fixed. They feel constrained and stressed.
Nader said, that to bring consciousness to a system is difficult. The people tend to defend what they know and resist what they need to learn. To increase their consciousness is to help them put on a new pair of glasses. If they do put on the glasses, they suddenly see potential in themselves and in the world. There is new possibility. The new view is enlightening, liberating, and empowering. It brings hope. The people begin to increase in consciousness and they see themselves as being in the “ocean of consciousness.”
As I listened, I interpreted his message as follows. The challenge of leadership is to create work spaces where the people flourish. We do this by increasing our own individual consciousness. Through mediation we can regularly reorder our own consciousness. This gives us the ability to transcend ego, to move from problem solving to purpose finding. The purpose is always a reflection of the common good. Because disruptions tend to knock us, and others back to the ego state, the leader has to continually engage in the increasing of personal consciousness. When we increase our consciousness and focus on the common good or highest purpose, the object of our attention grows in importance.
If a leader is constantly focused on the common good, the system can be drawn to a focus on the common good. Drawing the people to such a focus is difficult, however, because the perception of conflict is easily triggered and people are constantly turning to fight or flight. Unity decays. A leader’s job is to relentlessly focus on the highest collective purpose, to state it, to embody it, to invite people to embrace it. When people embrace the common good, conflict declines and the emergence of creative order is more likely.
At the close, someone asked Nader about religion. He carefully differentiated transcendental meditation (TM) from religion. He indicated that TM is a practice that is simply about cleaning up the nervous system. You do not need to believe in God to clean up the nervous system. An atheist can be comfortable practicing TM. Nader then circled back. He said that if religion is about inviting God into your home, TM is about cleaning the home so that God is more likely to show up. When you clear the mind and increase consciousness you are more likely to commune with God.
While I found Nader’s words interesting there was something that impressed me more than what he had to say. It was his eyes, his face, his body and his tone. His eyes sparkled, his face was radiant, and his body communicated peace and his tone sounded with compassion. Nader was modeling his message. I was drawn to him and I listened with trust and felt safe as Nader invited me to higher consciousness.
- When the people around you are stressed, how often do you recognize the stress as a signal that you need to elevate your consciousness?
- Is your first inclination to clean up your nervous system so others can clean up their nervous systems?
- In such situations do your eyes sparkle, is your face filled with light, does your body radiate peace, and do you speak with a tone of compassion?
- How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?