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Practicing Conscious Leadership During COVID-19

Jennifer Mulholland & Jeff Shuck
April 9, 2020

As if it weren't clear enough by now, the world is changing. The roles of business, religion, and government in our lives; the ways we relate to the environment and to one another; the thoughts we have about whether or not we live in a global community; the impact our decisions have on generations to come – the Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted fundamental questions about how we live and work as a society.

But the changes are personal, too. When we all literally need to stay at home, all of our old habits of striving, pushing, running, and working to be "productive" get called into question. Those of us who are achievement-oriented are finding it hard to slow down. But pushing through isn't working any more.

The world is calling us to lead ourselves and others in a different way. We have to get comfortable with the here and now. We have to be willing to meet people where they are. In other words, more than ever, leaders need to be present.

As we try to practice presence during these times of uncertainty, we find ourselves looking to the Four Lights of Leadership, the principles that guide Lantern, our retreat for conscious leaders. The four principles remind us slow down, see what is, and find our authentic truth at a time when truth is more important than ever.

1. A leader is a light for others.

True leadership is about clarifying our passions in order to inspire the best in others and ourselves. To do that, we need to get clear on what we truly value, and then practice speaking and living our own truth rather than someone else's.

That takes practice. It starts with clarifying our own passions – the things we care about and why – and then sharing them with the world. When we follow our passions, we live a more authentic life. Our joy and fulfillment increases. And we inspire others in the process.

2. The light is always on.

Even in our darkest, most insecure, and fearful moments, we still have everything we need to be leaders.

What if every time we experienced worry or stress, those feelings were meant to be reminders to us about how powerful we are? What if every moment of doubt was meant to be a call for us to remember our best selves?

Our light may feel dim at times, but it can never go out. 

3. We only need to see what is right in front of us.

The idea that we can control the world around us – with our words, plans, goals, or actions – is self-involved and outdated. But it is a fiction that many of us hold onto for years, until an unforeseen crisis like COVID-19 disrupts our carefully constructed worldview.

Leaders don’t need to know all the answers, and seldom do. Rather, leaders spend time practicing and learning to navigate the unknown, step by step, moment by moment, with presence in alignment with one’s beliefs, values, and purpose.

In moments of uncertainty we can trust that we are fully prepared to "show up to what shows up." We only have to know the next step. Life will illuminate the right next step we need to take.

4. There is a larger light guiding us.

Leaders know that there’s a bigger plan. Some call it Fate; others God; others the Universe; others the Divine. Whatever you name it, leaders realize there are other forces at work. Those forces sometimes communicate to us via insight, intuition, and synchronicity.

Leaders polish their intellectual skills, but they are just as willing to follow their instincts, feelings, and heart as they walk in awareness. Note that knowing there's a larger light doesn't mean you are always pleased with where it leads! But the faith that there is a plan, even one you don't understand, can help you drop the worry and be right here, right now.

In these times of uncertainty, your light still shines bright. You have everything you need to be a light for others. And we need you.

You've got this!

Four Lights of Leadership Infographic

Download the Four Lights Infographic

The world is calling us to lead ourselves and others in a different way. As we navigate these times of uncertainty, we invite you to use the Four Lights of Leadership as inspiration for leading yourselves and others in a way that foster authenticity, presence, and trust.

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