Awareness skills are crucial in leadership. Regardless if you lead others or yourself.
They have two main benefits:
- it helps make the leadership actions (on yourself or others) enjoyable and meaningful
- it allows you to base decisions on real/valid and real-time data rather than imagination
How to practice your awareness skills. When you are aware you can be aware in two directions: outside and inside
When your attention is directed outside it is based on the five senses. When you perceive the world outside you can SEE, HEAR, SMELL, TOUCH and TASTE. When you perceive the outside, the main thing to remember is to make sure that that perception is separated from your reaction to it.
EX: I see a flower vs. I see a beautiful flower
in leadership this might sound
EX: I see John raising his eyebrows vs. I see John being confused
It is crucial not to not interpret, as this is impossible, the mind will do what the mind does, but to be able to separate that interpretation from your perception.
Interpretations are hypothesis, they can be correct or not. But if you jump to it directly you will lose the opportunity to actually stay connected with reality and stay objective when you perceive it.
When our attention is directed inside things get more complicated. Inside you can direct your attention to four areas:
- Sensations - Bodily sensations like warmth, pressure, tension, energy, movement
- Thoughts - Assessments, expectations, interpretations, judgements, imaginings.
- Feelings are labels we put on bodily sensations that occur as a reaction to present reality
- Emotions are labels we put on bodily reactions that occur as a reaction to what we think
Why all these categories?
It is not about denying some parts of us, each of them are part of our experience and are valuable just because of that. It is crucial to separate our experience and be aware of the source of the information for our actions and reactions in the leadership role.
How does that look?
I see John raising his eyebrows
I notice warmth in my chest, on my neck and ears
I notice I am thinking that John is confused
I notice I am thinking that John never gets it
I notice I have the emotion of anger coming from thinking that I will have to explain again to John