Leading using Freedom
I love how information suddenly pops up, especially information around my favorite topic, becoming free!
I am not talking about physical freedom or even financial freedom, I am talking about the freedom to make different choices and experience different things. Freedom for me is to experience my day to day differently, from a different set of emotions (so not anxiety or dread or shame). Simply put, if we keep on making the same decisions we will experience the same results and never get to that ‘there’ we are looking for. For leaders this is especially true as we are often charged with changing the organization and that is impossible if we don’t have the freedom to think differently.
Part of this journey toward shifting into a new mind (and so a new way of seeing possibilities and making choices), revolves around whose point of view we are living and how we present these ‘positions’ or opinions. Kegan in his book Immunity to Change talks about different levels of consciousness and it equates quite well to the journey to freedom I am talking about. It is also key for leaders as the mindset we use determines our leadership style and so our results.
The socialized mindset that over 50% of us live from is where our mindset is focused externally and is based on the standards of our society, culture and ‘fitting in’. We don’t really have our own opinions, instead we live others opinions as our own. We want to be told what to do and how to do things so that we can ‘fit in’.
As we grow and expand we can shift out of that mind set and start to explore the self-authoring mind. My observation is that this mindset becomes more common as one moves up the corporate ladder into the management and executive layers. It is how we a mindset that only about 20% of us are able to access (Kegan’s data set is based in first world MBA students so this may be more or less depending on where you live). Self-authoring is based on choosing one’s own standards and maps of the world that are independent of the outside world (my interpretation). One of the downsides is that we feel that we have the ‘right’ view, which can set people up to win, not loose and so stay trapped in unilateral control.
The second to last mindset is self transforming. It is accessible by a diminutive 5% of the sampled adults. This is where you are able to lightly hold your views and at the same time, perceive and understand other people’s maps, mind models and positions. This is the mind model that allows one to not assert or advocate your own views and rather present them as possibilities for others to engage with and explore. Here you don’t need to convince or persuade anyone, instead you lead people and allow them to find their own eat for what they know and understand. You no longer believes that you have the answer and are able to hold other, contrasting views as equally valid and explore them.
The self-transformin mindset is one of the more powerful mindsets to use as it allows one to be a path finder for other people. It allows you to be where they are and see from their perspective what parts of the broader map they can see from where they are and so lead them on a journey to new places, should they choose to go.
But back to finding freedom.
As always, finding freedom is hard. It implies escaping from something quite solid and real that is mostly inviisble to us, so I often need clues that tell me when I am using old habits and so that I can then make a choice to change. One of my best clues is finding myself living in duality because if I am coming from the world of opposites, I am trapping myself. When I live from duality, I have to choose one thing or the other and to do that, I have to judge one thing better than the other which quickly puts me into a space of ‘not being good enough’, ‘not being perfect’, always making the wrong choices and most importantly, defending my position and making you wrong. Nine of which are strong leadership positions, never mind being fun to live.
This article from Fractal Enlightenment proposes a new way to look at freedom, judgement and acceptance. What really connected is how we use judgment of ourselves to keep us stuck.
It talks about this from the perspective of a spiritual searcher looking for enlightenment, which is often not the journey that leaders are coming from, however the principles of how our sense of self works and how we get stuck in duality and judgement are relevant for both journeys. After all, becoming a good leader needs an element of self-awareness and flexibility. You also can’t influence and so take a group of people with you, if you are defending your position, well not unless you have power and fear behind you and even then, people will follow grudgingly if at all and the results will be continuously under threat as people find ways to resist.
What if freedom is a key element of leadership? What if it only comes when we first give ourselves the freedom to be exactly as we are and to feel about something exactly as we do.
What if we can only lead when we accept ourselves and so are no longer required to make choices that align ourselves with an inferior or insecure identity ?
I have taken out the parts that connected for me, although the article itself has much more, so give it a read.
Regardless, my invitation is as always, to dare to explore.
Dare to be OK with who you are right now. Dare to stop judging yourself! Dare to be Free! Dare to step out of you comfort zone and be someone new!
From the article…
“One of these desperate attempts of the ego to stay relevant, is the grasping on to spiritual ‘concepts’ and turning them into fear based belief systems that we can judge ourselves by.
The concept of achieving ‘perfection’ or of being completely ‘healed’ is one particular favorite of many spiritual seeker’s ego. Since the ego thrives in duality and judgment, the idea that we aren’t quite perfect, healed, enlightened enough or integrated enough is a belief that gives our ego a project to work on, thus giving it life.
The freedom to be exactly as we are and to feel about something exactly as we do is the catalyst of our ego to surrender into integration. When we love ourselves, we no longer require to make choices that align with an inferior or insecure ego structure.
Whatever situation you find yourself in time and time again, that frustrates you or gives you a reason to judge yourself and your life as “less than perfect”, is the indication that you are not giving yourself permission to be exactly as you are just simply tell yourself, “It’s ok….” “It’s ok that I don’t know how to forgive so and so. It’s ok that I don’t know how to stop eating sugar. It’s ok that I don’t know how to stop judging myself for naturally arising feelings.”
Notice how once we let ourselves be ok to be however we naturally are, or to feel however we naturally do, our energy completely shifts into relaxation. The things we have spent the most time judging ourselves, ultimately become the weapons used by our ego in order to get it’s validation as ‘less than’ and force us into the energy of judgment.
The full article can be found here.