Authentic Leadership - and the most important stocktake you'll ever make

“Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Harold Whitman

The ultimate question
Clarity of purpose is a core attribute of those who are powerful in life and make a profound difference in the world. What is your calling in life? How can you bring out the greatness in others? How do you limit yourself?

To explore these questions authentically – in other words, to become the answer - conscious self-reflection is required. And there’s never been a better time than now.

The violent events of the last few years have not only sent waves of shock and horror through the world, but have also stimulated an impulse to take stock and search for greater meaning and purpose in life. With accelerating change and market uncertainty there is more talk in the workplace about values, meaning and work/life integration. This brings with it the challenge for leaders to be more adaptable and responsive to the needs of their employees without losing sight of the bigger picture.

The problem
Self-reflection is a must if burnout is to be prevented. Enter stage, the corporate coach. Many approaches, however, whilst offering relevant and thought provoking questions, fail to tap into the wisdom accessible through the integration of mind-body awareness and instead focus on a more mind-centered approach.

But you can’t ‘think’ your way into a sense of purpose and engagement. It has to be experienced, embodied. Setting goals and strategies from an intellectual space is unlikely to evoke a lasting sense of enthusiasm. In fact, sometimes what you think is important to you, may indeed not be. In which case doggedly pursuing those goals would ultimately lead to frustration and exhaustion.

The inner barometer
Our understanding and experience after working with hundreds of people – many of them corporate leaders – is that a highly effective portal for self-reflection is the body. Somatic (body) awareness can serve as a pathway to self-understanding and awareness of the needs of others, and the call of the moment.

Phrases like ‘gut feeling’, ‘my hackles rose’ are well-known. Body awareness is not a new thing. It has, however, been misunderstood and undervalued, and often given a back seat to logic and the latest market trends.

Our bodies are a composite of the way we relate to the world within and around us. If a movement is restricted, some behaviors are impossible and, therefore, some experiences are denied as well. Muscles locked in conflict indicate internal rules in conflict. By cultivating awareness of subtle movements and restrictions in the body, we can discover the destructive internal rules that limit us and access the wisdom that frees us.

Purpose Blueprint
The body is unflinchingly honest. It offers clarity for even the biggest of life decisions. What if, as a leader, you could identify and ‘try on’ each important element in your life, test it for accuracy and ultimately build a ‘Purpose Blueprint’? What if you could experience the balance and interplay or all the uplifting elements at once? Imagine how it would inform your decisions, your interactions, your sense of vision.

Healthy perspective
Anyone in alignment with their own sense of purpose is in a much better position to bring that out in others also. In an environment conducive to a sense of meaning and authenticity, people perform better, think more clearly, and have an increased ability to remain calm and focused while under pressure. Not only that, but serendipity - the instance of supportive, fortuitous events – seems to appear more frequently. When you talk to successful leaders, you’ll find that all of them will be able to recount many favorable, pivotal events in their lives – chance meetings, surprise opportunities - that they simply could not have planned for.

Opportunities land all the time, but can easily be missed. Heightening your perception, inhabiting your body, listening to the subtle signals – that is what makes the difference.

“Reintegrating mind and body will, I believe, be a vital step in reintegrating work and self, and organizational change and personal change.” Peter Senge,

Rachel Flower

Author's Bio: 

Rachel Flower is the creator of Senssoma - a unique and powerful development process that gives individuals, partners and corporate teams the essential tools to live their passion and potential. Many refer to it as a business accelerator'.
She is internationally recognized for her workshops and training programs delivered in USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Asia. She offers practical and inspiring tools that tap into the senses and the wisdom of the body to bring clarity and empowerment into your personal and work life as well as bossing your referral network.
A widely published travel and feature writer, Rachel has spent many years exploring and documenting her passion for people and what makes them tick. In her coaching and facilitation she draws from a rich background in meditation and mind-body awareness techniques. She has worked with individuals and teams from all walks of life - from refugees to CEOs - running workshops and retreats in UK, Asia and Australia. Rachel is now based in North Lake Tahoe and the San Francisco Bay Area.