Consciousness is a word that used to occupy the realms of the esoteric and the worlds of eastern philosophies. Anybody with a so-called Western upbringing and education would have a natural reluctance to consider teachings regarding consciousness. To them, it was all a bit “iffy” and “touchy feely”. Those days have long gone.
Consciousness has steadily moved to centre stage in the thinking of people who are seeking to embrace the leadership skills and qualities required in the 21st century.
When it comes to living and working, people operate at one of two levels – conscious or unconscious living. The majority of people live and work at an unconscious level. They are completely unaware of the real issues that are affecting their lives and the lives of those with whom they interact.
Because we have great difficulty in seeing things in ourselves but find it easy to see things in other people’s lives, I’ll make it easy for you. Take a look at a current high profile example of someone living and working at a very unconscious level.
Jacob Zuma is a classic case of someone who is living and working at a very unconscious level. He is simply not conscious of the impact and implications of his thinking and his actions on the world around him.
So, while many voices are shouting out all sorts of messages at him, he is simply not hearing them, let alone listening to them because he is operating at an unconscious level. Think about it. A person who has been rendered physically unconscious by, say, a blow to the head, is simply not capable of hearing, processing and responding appropriately to a possible danger to which he/she is exposed.
We all understand that. When we understand that unconscious leaders are incapable of hearing and responding to messages given to them by their friends, advisers and the world around them, we’ll understand why they don’t react as we would normally expect them to react.
The question to you, though, is: how consciously or unconsciously are you living and working? What messages have you been sent, are you being sent, that you are simply failing to hear?
One of the qualities of a person engaged in conscious living is that they will take responsibility for their actions. When they are confronted with an error of judgement or an inappropriate action they have taken, they will not resort to defensiveness, attempt to explain away what they did, or try to justify their actions. They will hold themselves accountable and, where appropriate, take corrective action to address their error.
A person operating at an unconscious level always believes they are right and everybody else is wrong. When we adopt this as our frame of reference, we are in big trouble because no decision or action we take is based on truth.
Speaking of truth, few understand this higher truth: people living unconsciously deceive others because they have first deceived themselves. Once you have deceived yourself, there are absolutely no limits to the deceit you carry out on everybody else.
So, ask yourself: how consciously am I living? There are a couple of things that can help you answer the question.
If you find that no-one seems to agree with you, see the little red warning light flashing. You have fallen into the trap of always and only being right in your own eyes. Another term for this is “SELF RIGHTeousness”.
If things keep going wrong in your life, and you can’t understand why, that’s another red warning light flashing to tell you that you are not operating at a very high level of consciousness.
So, wake up! If you want to live and work at a conscious level, take your courage in both hands and start listening to what others are saying. Then respond appropriately. Only then, will others start to take you seriously. Only then will you gain credibility and influence in others’ lives.
Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.