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Conscious Leadership in Times of Uncertainty

Jennifer Mulholland & Jeff Shuck
March 12, 2020

What do we do in times like these? Times of change, unrest, and distress? Times of uncertainty?

The current events surrounding COVID-19 seem surreal – school districts and colleges closing, conferences and events postponed or cancelled, the stock market taking on a mind of its own. It is clear that for many of us, the way we live and work will be changing. There's never been a more important time for conscious leaders to rise. Hope needs help. Hope needs you.

How does a conscious leader respond best during times of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty? Here are three practices that help us and our clients find that answer:

1. Practice presence. Slow down and be here now. Listen deeply to the cues that are going on inside of you. These clues might show up as whispers of wisdom, your intuition, or your instincts. It may be your body showing you a sign of discomfort or tension, or perhaps as a moment of peace or openness.

Practicing presence is vitally important right now as we're bombarded with more information than we can handle from too many channels to process. The overload invites us to get clear about what is resonant with our truth. Ask, does what I'm hearing land? Does it cause me fear? Does it inspire hope? Do I contract or do you expand?

Practicing presence also invites us to give ourselves a break from the game of What If. Often our anxiety and concern comes not from where we are right now, but what might happen in the future. The endless scenario planning for the future or rehashing of the past traps us in a place of fear and regret. But all we need to do with is where we are, right now. 

What might happen, what could happen, and what actually does happen are three different things. Getting clear on the difference is the path to conscious leadership. This doesn't mean we go through life being willfully ignorant – but it does mean being able to give ourselves a little bit of space between what's actually happening right now and what might happen in the future. Presence allows us to be right here, right now, and to make decisions on what's actually in front of us.

2. Practice Discretion. Discretion invites us to be intentional about what we're focusing on, because what we focus on comes about.

Now, this doesn't mean that we don't seek as much information as we can, but it does mean we can use some discretion about what we decide to actually give energy to. After all, what we feed grows. Do we buy into things that make us fearful or stressed? Do we buy into things that make us unrealistically optimistic? Or, do we choose the information that seems most prudent with what's here now?

Discretion involves both discernment – not buying everything at face value and protecting yourself from ideas and emotions that might be self-destructive. And discretion also involves conscious decisions about what to do and what to share. 

3. Practice Conscious Choice. That leads us to our third point. A conscious leader chooses to act during times of uncertainty - for themselves, for their family, and for those that they lead. It's more important than ever to be awake and aware in how we're choosing to act.

This can be tricky in times of uncertainty. Conscious leadership calls us to drop the need to be perfect or to be right. Conscious leadership instead means being willing to be vulnerable and to say, "We don't have all the information."  Conscious leadership often sounds like: "With the facts that I know right now, this is what I've chosen to do."

Sometimes, the best choice is to wait until the picture becomes clearer. So conscious leaders are also willing to say, "We don't know enough today to make that decision, but we'll revisit it on Monday." Allowing yourself the space to make decisions based on what you can actually see and what you actually know is the path to better decisions.

We know that for many of you, times of change and unrest can create a lot of unease. And certainly we've had some anxious moments ourselves over the last few days. But we also know in our hearts that change and unrest are a part of growth, and that growth can often lead us, together, to something better. Comfort comes in connection and we have never been more connected than right now. 

We're sending you care and comfort to you and your loved ones. We are here for you. May your consciousness help you lead, today and every day forward.

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