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June 23, 2021

The Structure of the 15 Commitments

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People often ask us, “Why did you choose 15 commitments?” “Are all 15 really necessary?” Or “If you could only have 3 or 5 or 7 which ones would you choose?”

The truth is that we picked 15 commitments because that was all we could think of. When we explored what conscious leadership looked like it seemed to us that it looked like these 15 commitments - all of them, no more, no less. The longer we live with them the more they make sense to us and seem to describe the landscape of conscious leadership.

We’ve also discovered that there is a flow to the 15 Commitments. In other words, their order is not accidental.. For many people their journey to consciousness follows a pattern that the order of the commitments maps.

Phase 1: Ending drama — Commitments 1-6

Most people who come to us for support around becoming a more conscious leader come with a felt need. The need could be that they want to be more effective, productive — a better leader. Or they may want to have a more high performing team, better alignment, or more effective communication, greater trust. Some simply want to be happier, more fulfilled, more peaceful. Others have learned about consciousness through meditation, yoga, counseling, or psychedelic journeys and they want to know about how consciousness applies to leadership in complex organizations. 

But regardless of why people come to the exploration of conscious leadership, we have learned that the first phase of the journey involves identifying and reducing drama in the leader and her team. 

By drama we mean:

  • Unnecessary and unproductive expenditure of energy.
  • Recycling and repeating issues and problems. 
  • Broken, dysfunctional and sub-optimal relationships. 
  • Emotionality, which looks like being overwhelmed by emotions, generating more heat than light.
  • Stress, unhappiness, guilt, shame and some forms of depression.

Regardless of why people come to us initially, in fairly short order they begin to identify drama in their lives both professionally and personally. That’s when we introduce them to the two linked core principles of Commitments 1-6: Drama is natural and normal. Drama is optional. All of the bullet points above are choices. We can choose to have them in our lives and teams, and we can choose to greatly reduce and even remove them from our experience. Commitments 1-6 offer a path for eliminating drama. 

The formula for reducing and ending drama is: 

  • Stop blaming and criticizing yourself and others. Instead choose radical responsibility. (Commitment 1)
  • Stop wanting to prove you’re right. Instead choose curiosity and learning. (Commitment 2)
  • Stop repressing or reacting to feelings, either your or others’. Instead learn how to experience and release emotion effortlessly.
  • Stop hiding, withholding and lying. Instead become a master of candor and deep listening.
  • Stop gossiping. Instead go directly to people with whom you have an issue. 
  • Stop all energy leaks. Instead get aligned with your purpose, congruent with your experience and impeccable with your agreements. 

We have watched many leaders become devoted to these practices and in 6-12 months they have greatly reduced drama in their lives. Which leads to phase 2. 

Phase 2: Investing energy reclaimed from drama — Commitments 7-9

Conscious leaders begin to see how much of their energy has been consumed in drama. As they begin to greatly reduce drama, they are faced with a key question, “What am I going to do with all the energy I’ve been investing in drama?” It’s similar to when someone pays off all their debt and has money they can spend on something other than retiring loans. There is a rush of excitement as they consider what they want to buy or invest in. So, too, as a leader frees up all kinds of energy from drama the question becomes: what do I want to invest my energy in? Commitments 7-9 offer three possibilities. 

Invest energy in: 

  • Becoming a master appreciator (Commitment #7)
  • Discovering and living in your zone of genius (Commitment #8)
  • Play, as a lifestyle, while replenishing energy through rest and renewal (Commitment #9)

Just as drama sucks energy from the leader and the team, appreciation, genius and play are sustainable self-replenishing energy investments. Most leaders spend another 6 months learning how to skillfully appreciate, align their lives with their zone of genius and make play a way of life. 

Phase 3: Seeing the truth of who we really are — (Commitments 10-12)

Leaders often report great excitement and fulfillment as they move through phases 1 and 2 of conscious leadership. Some choose to stay in this place of great fulfillment for years. Others become interested in discovering the truth of who they really are. To support leaders in exploring the deep question of “Who am I?” we offer commitments 10-12. As leaders practice these commitments they discover that they are: 

  • That which is beyond all stories (Commitment 10)
  • That which lacks nothing (Commitment 11)
  • That which always has and is enough (Commitment 12)

These three commitments and the realization that comes from their practices take the leader to a new level of freedom, equanimity, peace and joy. They also make a new kind of relationship available to the leader in their personal and professional life. We describe this movement as the movement from codependency to cocreativity (a concept we learned from Gay and Katie Hendricks in their wonderful book Conscious Loving). 

Phase 4: Relating Co-creatively with the World — (Commitments 13-15)

The final three commitments map the territory of what transformational co-creative relationships can look like for the collective. 

These relationships:

  • No longer see any people or circumstances as obstacles and impediments but rather as allies (Commitment 13)
  • Are rooted in creating win for all outcomes and move beyond win/lose (compete) and lose/lose (compromise). 
  • Are built on becoming the resolution for what most wants to be created in the world (Commitment 15)

The subtitle of the book is A new paradigm for sustainable success. When built on phases 1-3 these last three commitments offer us individually and collectively a sustainable way to play the game of life, to impact and be impacted, as we create the world we most want to live in and pass on. 

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