Leader! Are you willing to shift from Below the Line to Above the Line?

In the previous post, I wrote about Jim Dethmer’s work on Conscious Leadership. The first step – involved getting yourself located around the issue that you are facing. How are you ‘being’ with it in your life – are you responding to it from Above the Line or Below the Line. In case you want to re-calibrate where you found yourself (mildly, moderately, significantly) above or below the line – mark off those that apply from my post here. As a quick recap –

Below the line – you are defensive, reactive, looking for validation, wanting to prove yourself right, resisting

Above the line – you are curious, open, in learning mode, asking how can I grow from this

Now that you are aware of where you are located, are you willing to acceptacknowledge, and allow yourself for being Below the Line. If you are Above the Line – good for you. But several of us find ourselves Below the Line.  Accepting this requires not explaining, or justifying why you are there and further spiral into judging yourself for being this way. Self-criticism to an already defensive, threatened and reactive state of mind, simply drives you further Below the Line. Therefore accept – don’t justify. Just pause for a moment and accept that you are responding from a threatened state, reactive and the ego protecting you from a sense of insecurity on the issue before you.  Acceptance about where you are is important because you cannot shift, that which you cannot accept.

Next question – are you willing to shift to Above the Line? Yes, the question is not “Do I want to shift”? It is “am I willing to shift”?

Wanting is not equal to willing. For example, most of us want to prioritise being consistent in our efforts to be physically fit. However, very few of us are willing to do what it takes to fundamentally change the way we spend our day and resources to prioritise physical fitness.  

Also, willing to shift involves not changing anything about the circumstance or the issue I am facing. Yes, Ceterus Paribus – nothing else changes. Am I willing to operate from a different space within me, everything else around me being the same. So, am I willing to be with the issue from Above the Line or still want to operate from Below the Line? Your head may say “yes of course” – but what does it take to be willing to shift such that the shift is sustainable?

Here is a set of willingness questions to support your discovery if you are fully willing to create a shift around the issue you are facing.  

1.    Are you willing to take 100% responsibility (not more or less than 100% responsibility) for this issue? Are you willing to stop blaming and criticizing others and yourself?

2.    Are you willing to let go of being right? Are you willing to get more interested in learning than defending your ego?

3.    Are you willing to feel all of your authentic feelings (fear, anger, sadness, joy)? Are you willing to allow others to have all of their feelings?

4.    Are you willing to reveal to others what you are withholding? Are you willing to speak unarguably? Are you willing to renegotiate all agreements related to this issue that you no longer have a whole body yes to keeping? Are you willing to only make agreements about which you have a whole body yes and around which you have control?

5.    Are you willing to stop all gossip about this issue? Are you willing to clear up all past issues with all relevant parties using the clearing model?

6.    Are you willing to clean up all broken agreements related to this issue? Are you willing to honour your rhythms of rest and renewal; sprint and recovery around this issue?

7.    Are you willing to shift from entitlement to appreciation about this issue? Are you willing to place your attention on how this issue is here for your learning?

Are you willing to let go of all past resentment and replace it with genuine appreciation?

8.    Are you willing to let go living in your zones of incompetence, competence or excellence? Are you willing to live primarily in your genius?

9.    Are you willing to let go of taking this issue seriously? Are you willing to treat this issue lightly and to play with it? Are you willing to have this issue resolve easefully and effortlessly?

10. Are you willing to see that the opposite of your story is as true or truer than your story?

11. Are you willing to experience no lack of approval, control and security? Are you willing to let go of seeking approval, control and security from the outside?

12. Are you willing to let go of beliefs in scarcity? Are you willing to experience that you have enough of everything? Are you willing to quit playing a zero sum game regarding this issue?

13. Are you willing to see that everyone and everything related to this issue are your allies?

14. Are you willing to let go of win/lose (competing) and lose/lose (compromising) views regarding this issue? Are you willing to create authentic win for all resolutions for this issue?

15. Are you willing to be the resolution that you are seeking regarding this issue? Are you willing to listen consciously to others?

Many times, the answer will be that I am unwilling to shift. It is a NO. At least, not today. I am not ready. And that is OK. Being honest about our unwillingness is transformational on its own as it involves making a conscious choice and taking responsibility.

However, now that you have an idea of what it takes to willingly shift from below the line to above the line on the issue – how do you make this shift? The third post in this series will answer that.

Don’t be hard on yourself – transforming reactive leadership to conscious leadership takes time.  As long as you are willing to do the work, you will get there.

About Mandira Kala

Mandira is a qualified leadership coach. She is a graduate in Psychology from LSR, New Delhi, MSW from TISS, Mumbai, PhD in Public Policy from University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is passionate about developing leaders who contribute to their workplace by transforming mindsets, creating a culture of cultivating and harnessing people potential, and beating the odds to deliver beyond imagination.

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