Perhaps you’ve never even considered this. You’re not in a coma, after all, so clearly conscious, at least at one level. What I’m referring to here is your awareness. How aware are you of your state of consciousness? I work with four.
- To Me
- By Me
- Through Me
- As Me
We can and do flip between these four states over the course of a day, or even hours or minutes. Some of these states are more empowering than others and can elevate your leadership and success. Spend too much time in one, in particular, and you’ll be held back from delivering your best work, from advancing your career and making your impact. And that state is…
To Me Consciousness
We human beings spend most of our lives — perhaps as much as 95% of the time — in ‘To Me’ consciousness. It’s ‘normal’. Take a moment to observe others, your colleagues, your family or close friends, yourself, and you’ll undoubtedly see ‘To Me’ consciousness at play.
Notice, how in this state, we experience life as happening to us. It’s someone else’s fault that you didn’t get that promotion; it’s your team’s fault you didn’t meet your sales targets…It’s your kid’s fault you’re cranky; they kept you up half the night. Life is a series of problems. And where there’s a problem, there’s someone or something to blame. And of course, someone needs to fix it. Whenever you notice the blame game in play, you’re dealing with people in ‘To Me’ consciousness and with a victim mentality.
Whenever you find yourself wondering “Why me” or “ Why is this happening to me?”, know you’re caught up in this state, pegging your success and wellbeing on external factors.
This is not conscious leadership. Leaders operating in ‘To Me’ consciousness tend to be defensive and closed and need to be right. I’m sure you’ve seen this style of leadership in those around you. It takes great courage, honesty and awareness to notice it in yourself.
When you do, you can consciously shift to more empowered states, like ‘By Me’ or ‘Through Me’ consciousness. For most of the challenges you face in your day-to-day leadership, ‘By Me’ and ‘Through Me’ consciousness are sufficient.
By Me Consciousness
You shift from ‘To Me’ to ‘By Me’ consciousness by taking responsibility for what happens to you. This is an important mindset shift from ‘being at the effect of’ to ‘consciously creating with’ those external factors. The world is no longer a hostile place that needs fixing. It’s a place designed for your learning, growth and development. You replace defensiveness with curiosity. A closed heart and mind with openness. And instead of insisting on being right, you commit to learning and growing.
Your key question then becomes, “What can I learn from this?”
It’s in this state that you become a conscious leader, responsible for your thoughts, behaviours and moods. Open, curious and willing to grow. Aligned with your purpose.
Through Me Consciousness
The shift from ‘By Me’ to ‘Through Me’ consciousness can be challenging for many. You can only reach this state by surrendering. Not wave the white flag surrender, but rather, letting go of your need to control. A tough ask for many. In this state, you experience life as happening through you. You know you are guided by a higher intelligence. Your purpose expands beyond personal goals and intentions to serve a cause far bigger than you. You become the co-creator of your life, allowing yourself to open up to flow, wonder and awe. This is the flow state, the Zone of peak performance.
As Me Consciousness
In this state, you experience life as you, at one with all that is, was, ever might be, and very much at peace with yourself and the world. In my experience, we humans experience this state for very short periods of time, before something happens that interrupts it. And before you know it, you’re reacting and back in ‘To Me’ consciousness. You have a choice: get stuck there, or shift consciously to a more empowered state.
The shift is simple.
Awareness of your state change is key. Breathe deeply and change your posture. Breathing deeply shifts your neurophysiological reaction to the event; shifting your posture from one of defensiveness to openness means you can now shift your perspective and consciously choose the state you desire.