What is consciousness? Let's begin by describing what it isn't: Consciousness is the opposite of rationalism, our dominant cultural paradigm. The rational mind believes that:
- Success is measured in material terms.
- Self-worth is gauged in comparison to others.
- Feelings should be kept to ourselves.
- The bottom line is the main arbiter of achievement.
- Anything that cannot be scientifically observed and validated is not real or valuable.
- We are each separate individuals, competing with each other and needing to "look out for number one."
- The world is a dangerous place filled with evil and malevolence, from which we need to protect ourselves.
- Violence and aggression are necessary methods for negotiating the hazards of life and motivating performance.
- Notions like love, eco-interdependence, spirit or soul, absolute truth, and the divine are the province of philosophers, idealists, and the naive -- not businesspeople. As the old rationalist argument goes, "If you want a friend, get a dog."
The rational mind sees the world as a collection of individual objects, and Western science uses this intellectual framework to analyze, survive, and make sense of the Universe. The conscious mind, however, makes sense of life by appreciating the interconnectedness of everything and everyone with the whole.
Organizations led by such leaders are crucibles of energy that ignite the passions of everyone within.
Consciousness is the awareness that we are simply part of a magical, flowing whole -- like individual molecules of H20 in the river of life. Consciousness is being awake to the mystical and ineffable aspects of being alive. The rational mind sees a world of scarcity and responds with fear. The conscious mind sees a world of abundance and responds with love.
The rational mind describes compassion and caring for people as touchy-feely soft stuff. The conscious mind sees compassion and caring for people as the juice -- even the purpose and necessity -- of life. The rational mind reasons that an imbalance between work and life is the means that is justified by the ends. On the other hand, the conscious mind understands that everything in the universe, including work and life, must be balanced, that there is a season for everything. The conscious mind therefore balances thinking and feeling, profit and people, wisdom and learning, ego and spirit, now and the future, rich and poor, the sacred and the secular. The fully conscious leader is an evolved being.
For whom would you prefer to work -- the rational, unconscious leader, or the conscious leader? The conscious leader is guided by:
- A desire to serve others, the planet, and the Divine, which may be defined differently by each leader;
- The capacity to love -- the source of a leader's ability to inspire others;
- A passion for the truth -- the refusal to compromise integrity or to deny universal truths.
The great leaders of history have all been conscious leaders, inspiring others in their endeavors and enlisting them in their dreams. When we appraise leaders within our organizations, when we seek to recruit new leaders into them, or when we search for new suppliers based on the quality of their leadership -- even when we search for a new career -- our criteria should be the same: Is this a conscious leader? Is this a leader who honors all of life
Organizations led by such leaders are crucibles of energy that ignite the passions of everyone within. They are filled with an indescribable but beautiful force that propels their organizations past all others. This is the organization without a recruitment problem. This is the organization that replaces marketing and selling with being, thereby inviting new business, new markets, new ideas, and new horizons.
This is wisdom and greatness in a leader.
Lance Secretan is an advisor to leaders, a public speaker, and a recipient of the International Caring Award. He is author of several books, including Inspirational Leadership, Destiny, Calling and Cause (1999, CDG Books).