You may have experienced the reality that the demands of being on the cutting edge of leadership can (and often do) come at a high price. Working with top performing leaders for the last 30+ years has shown me that endeavoring to stay at the forefront of that cutting edge can actually disconnect us from the things we care most about. This includes ourselves!
To make matters worse, even though we promise ourselves or those we love to take a little down time once we get through “this”, there is always something new that comes up and demands our attention. We try harder to be mindful, and to pursue meditation, clarity, or greater connection. But rather than encouraging longevity of practice, these initiatives tend to be fleeting. We quickly sample (and dump) each of them, always looking for the next new thing.
This article is the result of an amazing interview with Christine Comaford, who has been named one of the Top 50 Human Behavior Experts to Follow. Christine has consulted to the White House (Clinton & Bush), served has a board director for over 36 start-ups, and sold five of her own businesses with an average 700% return on investment. In addition, Christine has guest lectured at Harvard and writes a monthly column for Forbes. She’s the best-selling author of multiple books, including Power Your Tribe, and leads the annual Beyond Your Brain retreat.
The truth is – you can’t just sample the trends and think you’re going to experience any sort of long-lasting change or results. Rather than being a trend follower, I’d encourage you to consider solutions that will help you disconnect from the stress and reconnect to your heart, soul, and higher mind.
Education & Imposter Syndrome
My guest Christine shared a bit about her own spiritual and professional journey, as well as her dance with questioning her capabilities as a result of not having traditional qualifications.
After running away from home at age 16, she already believed she was 100% responsible for her own life. This led her to seek out admittance to UC – San Diego for a year, where she was able to transfer her earned credits back to highschool. Despite this promising collegiate start, Christine didn’t officially have even a high school diploma until she was in her 30’s (when one was honorarily bestowed)!
As someone who had a similar journey (I initially left school at age 14), I love that Christine was able to pursue her dreams and goals without traditional paperwork.
I also carried a huge amount of imposter syndrome for a long time because of this lack of a degree, and asked if she had a similar experience.
Christine shares that, for her, the lack of a degree contributed to a sense of self-doubt rather than imposter syndrome. She found herself sometimes questioning “Can I actually do that?” versus actually believing she was a fraud. However, she’s made sure to establish a clear, public track record to help counter the imposter syndrome feedback from others.
Mentors & Teachers
Like every truly successful leader I’ve ever met, she’s also benefited from some incredible mentors and teachers.
Christine cites Gerald Jampolsky as being a pivotal connection and mentor in her life. He is the author of “Love is Letting Go of Fear”, and I highly recommend you check out his work if you’re not familiar with it. (Old but fabulous!)
Bill Gates was also a formative teacher, and she credits him with teaching her that confidence is a decision.
From him, she learned to declare victory as she stepped onto the battlefield.
For example, when Windows came out, it was ridiculed. She watched him declare that it would be world standard — for 6 years. He declared that he would make it happen, and he absolutely believed that it would happen. Christine watched, and learned the power of confidently declaring success, and then committing to seeing it through to fruition.
If you can’t think of anyone in your life that you would consider a teacher or mentor, you need to find someone. Learning from others is so important. You may not have a connection with a well known person – that doesn’t matter. You don’t need someone famous; you need someone who can speak powerful things into your life.
The 5 Organismic Rights
If you do nothing else with this article, please check out the 5 Organismic Rights. Rank yourself from 1-5 on each right, and consider which ones you feel most confident in, and which are missing.
Wilhelm Reich believes that very child and organism is born with these rights:
- The right to exist
- The right to have needs
- The right to take action
- The right to have consequences for one’s actions
- The right to love and be loved
Listen in as we discuss what the needs are, and how those needs tend to manifest in our lives. Understanding these needs and desires is pivotal to understanding your journey. It is also essential to your growth.
At some point, you have to “call off the search” for external fulfillment and learn to get present to yourself and what is within you.
This part of our interview was powerful, so please visit the episode to really get the meat of it!
Organsmic Rights & Leadership
In addition to sharing how the rights impact your own life, Christine and I spoke about how being aware of the rights can improve your awareness (and, in turn, your leadership). She gives examples of noticing the rights that others may be missing within your business, and then reaching out to them and helping them grow and develop in these areas.
Speaking to other people’s needs is a powerful way to help them feel seen and to grow into higher versions of themselves. And of course, understanding your needs (and communicating about what you learn), is pivotal as well! You can’t truly help others if you haven’t done the work yourself.
I especially loved her real world examples of the employee who declared his recognized inability to “have needs”, what he planned to do about it, and his request for accountability from his team. (And when she mentions the “savior” leader who used serving as a manipulation..woo! You need to hear that one!)
Understanding your Organismic Rights and doing the work to process and grow is one of those things that won’t work if you want to just “try it out” and then move on. Remember, following the fads doesn’t build a transformative practice!
Business & Spirituality
I am all in favor of the separation of church and state, because our faith is personal. However, I am absolutely clear that we cannot (honestly) separate who we are from how we are. I was very curious how Christine handled the supposed contradiction between business endeavors and spiritual pursuits.
She shared that, after much reading and studying, she knew there had to be more than money, sex, and power. That led to her exploration of meditation, and at age 17 she took the Buddhist vows. For 7 years, she lived the life of a monk. During this time, she was practicing meditation, fasting, serving…and discovering computers.
She felt there was more clarity when communicating with computer systems, which were much more direct than humans. This contradiction between the way humans respond to communication and the way machines respond led her into the study of human potential.
Eventually, she found that she wanted her spiritual journey to go “in and down” rather than “up and out”. This philosophy came from a desire to really deal with what is within, rather than simply trying to bypass it or transcend it. She broke her vows, and headed into Microsoft (which she describes as a “different sort of monastery”!).
Although she is quite firmly established in the business world now, Christine understands the power of connection and spiritual practice. That’s why she introduces corporate individuals to a world of metaphysical understanding every year at her retreat. She helps executives practice proven spiritual practices, and also learn how they might utilize their new sense of awareness in business.
Christine shared that reconnecting to the earth and to the elements can bring us back into tune with how the earth feels. When humans become internally still, we sync up with the earth and diminish our own stress and illness. Seeing executives reconnect with the earth and with themselves is powerful, and it can change lives.
Christine uses these sorts of spiritual elements, along with powerful work with tools like reframing, anchoring, and organismic rights, in order to create a holistic approach to business and success.
Powerfully Humane Workplaces
When you learn to recognize the humanity of yourself, your employees, and your business associates, you’ll start to change your business.
The future of business leadership is the recognition of humanity!
This requires emotional connection to self and others. Understanding your emotional needs, as well as your Organismic Rights, is going to be more and more essential. Ultimately, your people and organization are a reflection of your leadership. By understanding your rights, as well as theirs, you can enhance every piece of your leadership (and your personal life).
Connection to self is the best thing you can do if you want to grow as a person and leader.