Often when we teach the commitments of conscious leadership we begin by asking leaders if they’d be willing to play a game. This serves several purposes:
First, right up front it creates the intention to play and not take ourselves, or the game, too seriously. This is a key to playing the game skillfully and to wanting to keep playing the game for a long time.
Second, if it’s a game we don’t need to spend time giving the science, data, ROI or evidence for why we believe consciousness is a valid and valuable aspect of leadership.
When you play Candy Land or Scrabble or hide and seek who asks, “Could someone tell me why this is a valid use of our time? Has there been any serious study and research on the efficacy of Candy Land? Is there any neuroscience evidence that supports this activity?” If someone asked questions like these, the other players at the table would probably say, “Take a chill pill Bob. It’s just a game.”
Now this is not to say that there isn’t a growing body of research on the validity of consciousness, presence, and mindfulness for producing all kinds of cool outcomes in the workplace. There is, and at the Conscious Leadership Group it’s not our purpose or a priority to talk about this research. Others are doing this brilliantly.
So instead we play a game, and like many games, our game has a playing field. On the field there’s a line; players are either above the line or below the line. There are bases that players stand on: victim, villain, and hero; and creator, coach, and challenger. Like many great games, our game involves a journey. On the journey we go through various states: To Me, By Me, Though Me and As Me. We go from presence to drifting to drama to shifting. Oh, what a game!
Like most games, our game has a goal, an ultimate outcome, a way to win. When people first hear about our game and see the board they usually come to the conclusion that the way you win the game is by being (and staying) above the line as much as you can.
Our role as gamekeepers is to remind new and old players alike that the goal of the game is NOT to be above the line. In fact, like all great games our game has subtle traps, cul-de-sacs in which a player can get stuck and spend lots of time. The biggest trap in our game is believing that being above the line is how you win the game.
When people hear this they often feel frustrated (angry and scared) and ask, “Well, then what is the goal of the game? How do we win?” To this we respond, the goal of the game is self-awareness. You win the game by becoming more and more self-aware, by seeing reality more accurately. You succeed if you can accurately locate yourself in any given moment, not by being above the line but by knowing where you are relative to the line.
Self-awareness is the goal of the game. Can you see yourself accurately? So if you’re playing this game along with us, we encourage you to change the objective from being above the line to being self-aware.
To learn more about the 4 Ways of Leading, the Drama Triangle, drifting and shifting and other topics covered in this going deeper section you can explore our handouts located on our website here.