By Loren Swift
Leadership is another word for presence. It is paying attention to ourselves—our inner movement—as well as others. I respond to leaders who hold an internal stance of self-connection, who are grounded and flexible, kind and generous. I long for each one of us to take on the role of leader, to understand our belonging to one another, and to stand tall and strong for what we know is true and good and beautiful. To do so we need to know our inner world intimately and to hold ourselves with kindness and generosity of spirit. When we know our inner workings well, we trust ourselves and walk with confidence. This is the trust that holds all involved with equal care, with tender attention and curiosity. More than ever, as leaders, it is incumbent upon us to take the whole into account.
We’ve all heard the notion of Seven Generations. That is, to make decisions with the next seven generations in mind. This is a directive that invites the whole into awareness and into our care. It reminds us that we belong not only to ourselves, we also belong to our children and their children’s children. And the world belongs not only to us, but to itself and to those who will follow. This kind of leadership is very big hearted. When we lead with our hearts, we feel good knowing that what we do today will ripple its benefits throughout time.
To know and embody the values, or qualities of life, that matter to us is an aspect of true leadership. That is, to walk our talk. To be who we say we are is necessarily a spiritual practice because the distractions away from our inner knowing and self-connection are monstrous. To consistently show up embodied and living the values that we profess matter to us is an ongoing practice. The living qualities of life we value are coherent energies we can embody at will. This may be the most practical spiritual practice available to those of us engaged in the world of families, relationships, jobs and everything else going on around us. It is a direct route to clarity, compassion and empowerment all rolled into one. In other words, to truly being the change we want.
If you’d like, take a minute to name the qualities of life that matter most to you. They can be readily discovered in answer to this question: If everything in your life was just as you would most love it to be, what words would describe that state of being? As you write down the words that come to you, let yourself imagine the most wonderful life possible in all realms. This list can be extensive, including meaning/purpose, connection, creativity, respect, gratitude, kindness, belonging, equanimity, beauty, fun, play, competence, learning, community, communication and so on. The words depict what the experience is you long for, not how it will happen. How it happens differs from person to person and situation to situation.
To induce the state of coherence, embody a quality of life at will. First choose the quality you want to experience. Then remember a time when you experienced it fully, when that quality was living in you and you felt it completely. As the memory unfolds and the quality of life fills you, let go of the memory and allow the living energy of the quality to fill you up from the inside. Use your breath and breathe it into your whole body. Rest in the energetics of the quality as it expands inside. When your quality of life is embodied, you will feel a sense of relaxation perhaps, or expansiveness or warmth. This is the state of coherence. You are vibrating at a frequency resonant (coherent) with you, your life and your most cherished value (quality of life) in that moment. This is an empowered state of consciousness. From this state of being, you have greater access to your intuition, to clarity of mind and to speaking from your heart. Your immune system is enhanced. You may also have a broader perspective on life, meaning, you may sense empathically what other people in your sphere are also feeling and wanting. Or you may have access to greater creativity and personal insights.
Any and all of this expanded awareness can be used in a leadership capacity. Because qualities of life are universal, they also function to help us understand and empathize with others. They provide access to our common ground, the aspects of being human that we all share so that understanding others comes more readily. Embodying a specific quality of life intentionally invites the sense of belonging to ourselves and the surrounding environment such that we may see situations from a broader perspective. Our belonging extends out from our internal landscape to the world beyond and the people in it. It is belonging that infuses us with the impetus to care for ourselves and our community. Ultimately, it is the quality of care that invites us to step into life, to take action based on our deepest longings. This is leadership we can all benefit from.
About Loren Swift
Loren Swift has a deep appreciation for the scientific, the psychological and the mystical. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in counseling from Oregon State University. Previously, she was a licensed psychotherapist working in the field of addiction recovery and dissociative disorders in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has been a certified Nonviolent Communication trainer since 2005 and has worked as a life coach for nearly 20 years, integrating her various backgrounds to support couples and families in finding tenderness, joy and connection through mutual understanding and to support collaborative group endeavors for systemic change. For an even more powerful and transformative experience, Swift has also created “The Earth Keeper’s Handbook Companion Program,” a 16-lesson, video-based home-study program to deepen understanding of the lessons in the book and demonstrate how they apply to real-life situations. To learn more about Swift, her book and companion program, please visit earthkeepersall.com, or connect with her on Facebook (@lorenswiftbooks), Twitter (@earthkeepersall) and Instagram (@earthkeepersall).