I cried at the end of my first three-day Leadership Camp. At first, I wasn’t sure why. Now I see I had a story that I couldn’t bring Camp back into my everyday, “normal” life.
Recently I realized Camp energized me in many ways:
- Play! – Playing generated creativity and space for brainstorming. Plus, it was fun.
- Candor – I opted to reveal my thoughts and feelings in real-time. I shared openly, honestly, and authentically. That was new and refreshing.
- Being Heard – Camp taught us how to listen consciously. I felt heard by others.
- Curiosity – My fellow Leadership Campers brought a mindset of curiosity and a desire to learn.
- Space – Camp offered a dedicated block of time to focus on building my self-awareness and growing as a leader.
My post-Camp tears were pointing to an unconscious belief that these highlights couldn’t exist in my regular “life.” I see now that I was unconsciously committed to the malaise I imagined would follow Camp. I was actually committed to:
- Seriousness - the opposite of play. I thought that if I wanted to be taken seriously as a professional, I needed to be stern and do really hard things.
- Concealing - the opposite of candor. I thought that by concealing I would come across as more capable.
- Unconscious listening - the opposite of being heard. My conversations often revolved around giving advice instead of truly listening.
- Being right - the opposite of curiosity. In being right I felt secure. It was validating.
- Scarcity - the opposite of having wide open time. As a startup founder, I have been trained to believe there is never enough time, money, or resources.
Eight months later, I am experiencing more play, candor, listening, curiosity, and spaciousness.
My teammates ask questions like “what if?” and respond with a “yes, and...” Hiking meetings are common. We laugh a lot. Recently we started a meeting by sharing withholds. We incorporate check-ins at the beginning of our meetings to get present. We engage authentically.
With my friends and partner, I incorporate Conscious Leadership vocabulary into casual conversations, and we are going to deepen our shared understanding at Couples Camp in March.
Today I feel less separation between my “work life” and “real life.” It’s all just “life.”
Conscious Leadership Exercise: Energy Audit
- Look at your calendar for next week. What are five things about which you’re excited? What about those activities are you looking forward to?
- Notice the blocks of time on your calendar that make your energy go down, consider who and what is involved. What patterns are creating friction in your life?
- Often just noticing these patterns is enough to prompt us to say “yes” to more energizing activities and reduce friction in our lives (and on our calendars).