Self Mastery means both being aware and in control of our attitudes, thoughts, preferences and mental paradigms
Having courage and relentless faith enables a leader to tread the pathway where others would hesitate
Leaders in the world of business have the potential to create positive break-through for the entire planet. This however requires a different kind of Leadership than what we have been used to.
The leaders of today need to be different from the leaders of yesterday. Today, business can no longer see itself as an isolated island dedicated merely to the creation of shareholder wealth. Business Leaders have begun to recognize their larger role in delivering value to all stakeholders and preserving the environment for future generations. That is why concepts like “Conscious Capitalism” which takes care of People, Profits and the Planet are being talked about. We are also increasingly reading about business leaders “expanding consciousness” in organizations.
This sort of Leadership which is based on an understanding of our intrinsic “oneness” and “interconnectedness” is called “Wholesome Leadershiptm”. Wholesome leaders actively deliver value to all stakeholders.
What does it take to be a Wholesome Leader? Leaders, irrespective of their industry, need to be good at creating a powerful vision, inspiring people to follow that vision, thinking strategically through various business options, adding value through innovation, leading teams and people and most importantly, being in integrity and acting as role models for their teams.
As Wholesome Leaders, we also need to be grounded in “Self Mastery”. Self Mastery means both being aware and in control of our attitudes, thoughts, preferences and mental paradigms. It is about the ability to see and understand your mind and its tricks. It involves understanding that we have tools and options for thinking, and having the discernment and awareness to know what to use at the appropriate time.
Self Mastery refers to a number of attributes that have to do with self awareness and self management. Some of these are:
Awareness and Presence: Being in the now, unblocking all that comes in the way of being fully accepting and present in the moment. Awareness is the foundation for self-mastery. Awareness has its roots in the deep understanding of life and existence. Presence comes from living in the now. Practices that help to build awareness include meditation, yoga, reflection, practice of being in the now, etc.
Attitudes of Abundance: Attitudes broadly refer to the way we see things and consequently act on them. Attitudes refer to the mental models that we hold about ourselves, our work and life. It is therefore abundantly clear that the attitudes and mental models that a Leader holds will shape not just his/her behaviour and actions but also impact the way he/she runs the organization.
Attitudes of Abundance refer to the attitudes that help us to build self-mastery. Thinking in ways that attract abundance is a conscious choice as a leader. It is not a matter of coincidence that “good things” seem to happen more to aware and conscious leaders.
Courage and Audacity: Courage has been defined in many ways. It is deep faith in self and the universe and the conviction that life will support what you intent to do. Courage is an attribute that we see in most Leaders. It may be a physical act or a business or people related decision. Having courage and relentless faith enables a leader to tread the pathway where others would hesitate. Having courage does not mean that there is no fear. As a Leader, when we live and demonstrate courage, we would take on large audacious goals for our organization. We live in integrity with our values, hire people better than ourselves, develop people to take on our roles and speak up when things in the organization are not aligned with the values.
Living out ones Values: Self mastery would be incomplete without a deep awareness and alignment with one’s values. A wholesome leader reflects and is clear about his/her value system - what they hold dear and for which they are willing to stand up. Living out ones values is an indicator that the Leader has the capacity, conviction and the courage to take the tough road to success. There would be no compromises on Values. Taking tough decisions is a test of self-mastery.
Where do we start learning the secrets of self mastery? If you accept things around you, without demand, you already have taken the first step. There are two important factors here:
Firstly, once you accept people, and situations, for what they are, you won’t waste time and energy dealing with frustration. Secondly, once you change yourself, through positive self mastery, the world around you will change for the better, without much effort on your part.
Self-Mastery is an ongoing journey for a Leader. At every stage in the Professional Life of a leader, he/she needs to work on themselves at the foundation level to go to the next level of capability and effectiveness. This is best done by working at the roots of awareness and building self-understanding to mature to the next level. Building skills and competencies comes at a far later stage. Business Leaders who understand this mature into effective leaders early enough. Unless one can lead oneself, one can hardly lead others. As the Gita says “Atha Raja, tahtha praja” (As the leader, so the people). Leaders who practice self-mastery lead the way for others in the team and organization to also become masterful Leaders.
Anu Wakhlu is the co-founder and Director of the Pune based firm “Pragati Leadership Institute (P) Ltd. She coaches and facilitates people on Leadership. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org