Last year I read, then re-read the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. Despite taking a speed reading class twice, I still consider myself a slow reader and processor, which is why I usually read books multiple times. When I read, I want to feel like I've fully grasped the material, but usually, I only retain bits and pieces. Maybe that's normal? Why do I care if it's normal? Anyways, what I realized during the second time through was that to take this book in and to understand if I agree with the principles laid out, I would need to truly experience them myself. So, I decided for the third go that I'd begin incorporating the principles into my daily life, and this is where the journey begins.
Principle #1: "Take Radical Responsibility", this essentially means to "own your shit" and to help others "own their shit" too. I use this phrase specifically because it's one a best friend shared with me and one that's changed my life ever since. A more "appropriate" description is to take complete accountability for the circumstances of your life and your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Not only that, but to also understand at all times whether you are in fact taking responsibility or not. At any time if you are not adhering to this principle it's called "being below the line." "Above (or below) the line" is a phrase I'll use often in this series.
So, I started my journey into the land of Conscious Leadership and, at first, it was feeling easy. Mainly because there weren't too many moments where I felt below the line. Not because I'm super awesome at this and mastered the skill without any effort, but because there just weren't that many moments during my almost three week winter holiday where I wanted to, you know, like punch someone in the face. Then in small moments, I could feel myself slipping into a place of blame or anger or criticism. The type of blame that sounds like, "This service is crap, now they've made me wait here for over an hour and ruined my night," or, "if he'd just know what I want then I wouldn't feel upset." These instances were so minute that the difficulty here was mostly in being able to realize that I was even being affected by them. Forget about being above the line, I needed first to recognize that I wasn't there.
My big challenge came during my transition back to real life; the holiday was officially over. I experienced my first situation of falling well below the line. It took approximately 3 seconds to recognize that this was a very noticeable and unpleasant state. For several hours, though, I battled feelings of annoyance, frustration, and anger, and attributed my negative state directly towards another person. In the moment, I got sidetracked wondering are these feelings or emotions, but that didn't really help matters. All of the things I wanted to say, to make this person just shut up, were still wildly inappropriate. I felt at a loss on how to resolve the situation without giving some targeted and constructive feedback, which I assumed would only make things worse. Not only was this an unpleasant state but it was also draining to hang out there for an extended period. Every so often I would fail at very brief attempts to pull myself ever so slightly closer to the line, and then I just conceded to become numb and ignore all of my feelings.
The next day, I did take radical responsibility and decided to share my feelings in the best interest of this individual. I knew it would be hard, but that it was the only way that I could regain the feeling of authenticity. What I realized from this encounter was just how difficult this journey was going to be. I'm almost a month into this challenge, and I haven't even scratched the surface. I can only hope that my awareness continues to grow and that my ability to take "Radical Responsibility" grows with it.