Archive | October, 2015

contemplative leader

The Contemplative Leader: A Conversation with Bill George

contemplative leader

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Authentic leaders have developed a keen inner focus. They know what’s going on inside of themselves. They’re in touch with the relationship between their emotions and their actions. Most importantly, they possess a meta awareness – an awareness of awareness itself.

Bill George, Senior Fellow at Harvard Business School and author of Discover Your True North, has some interesting methodologies for helping leaders master their self-awareness. Here’s what he had to say about a practical technique to develop self-awareness in his recent conversation with Daniel Goleman.

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The Contemplative Leader

When I introduce the concept of inner focus, some people view it as being egotistical. I think it’s just the opposite. Most business leaders I know are incredibly focused, but they’re focused on their business goals. Inside they’re a mess. Why? Because they don’t take time to get clarity about what it is they’re trying to do and who they are. You can’t be a good leader until you have a real depth of awareness of who you are and what you’re about. Otherwise you’re just chasing your tail, so to speak.

All of us – not just leaders – are so outwardly oriented. We don’t truly know ourselves because we don’t spend any time on trying to know ourselves. We don’t take the time to examine why we react when X situation occurs. We just react according to our habits. Business as usual.

People often ask me, how do I gain self-awareness? For me, maintaining an introspective or contemplative practice has been essential to my success. I’ve been a meditator since 1975. I try to sit for at least a few minutes a day, twice a day.

Before that, I was a wreck. I was just chasing everything – 25, 50 objectives all at once. I had no sense of clarity. And when I began to meditate, I gained a sense of what’s really important. I learned to separate the wheat from the chaff. And I come out of it with a sense of clarity. Here are the three or four things that I really need to go focus on.

But I also got a much deeper sense of what I’m about and who I am, as well as a sense of wellbeing and tranquility. Without that sense of wellbeing you can’t really be an effective, focused leader. You can’t feel good about yourself if you continue to let ghosts from the past chase you.

Now, your contemplative practice doesn’t have to be meditation. It could be prayer. It could be talking with a loved one in great depth. It could be going for a jog to clear your head. It could be taking a long walk. I happen to like meditation, but I’m not saying that’s the only way.

Gain more insights on authentic leadership from Bill George in Leadership: A Master Class Training Guide and The Executive Edge: An Insider’s Guide to Outstanding Leadership.

Additional Reading

Four Strategies to Renew Your Career Passion

How Leaders Build Trust

Are You Aware of Your Self-Defeating Habits?

A Relaxed Mind is a Productive Mind

Ep 160: Surya Das – The connection between mindfulness and action? (6 of 6)

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast. 

Lama Surya Das Offers an Invocation + His definition of Mindfulness

The connection between mindfulness and action?

Hanuman Goleman asked leaders who are shaping the mindfulness movement to offer a more nuanced survey of the mindfulness landscape.

Lama Surya Das is one of the foremost meditation teachers and scholars of Western Buddhism, and one of the main interpreters of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. He’s the author of 13 books, including Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Modern World, and most recently Buddha Standard Time.

In this final conversation, Surya Das explains how our effort to cultivate mindfulness and enlightenment – by being mindful of our words, intentions and deeds – can bring wisdom that informs our every action.  

What is Mindfulness podcast

The What is Mindfulness? podcast series features new and exclusive interviews from individuals with decades of experience in teaching and studying mindfulness. The goal is to offer answers to questions about the practice from an array of perspectives and backgrounds.

About What is Mindfulness podcast

Contributors to the podcast series include:

More Podcasts with Surya Das

What is Mindfulness?

Role of Mindfulness in Your Training

The Relationship Between Meditation and Mindfulness

Hidden Dangers in Growing Popularity of Mindfulness

Your vs Popular Definition of Mindfulness