By Jeff Klein
“Conscious Awareness” is a powerful tool for transcending unconscious patterns. It fosters an expanded perspective and openness to new possibilities.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” ~ Anais Nin
Conscious Awareness is a process of recognizing what is going on inside and out, the effects of decisions and actions, and the interaction between a complex array of factors and forces. It is seeing our seeing, observing our thoughts, recognizing our feelings and the effect they are having on us and others.
Conscious Awareness is a meta skill or meta tool – a skill that enhances the performance of other tools. It functions much as a mirror functions for a dancer – reflecting position and movement, providing feedback for the organism to adjust to, or as the coach in the press box serves a football team, providing a perspective on the whole field.
I invite you to try this simple exercise: Sit or stand in a comfortable position. If you’d like, close your eyes (after your read the rest of the instructions!). Take a few deep breaths and allow your shoulders to drop. Now allow your attention to slowly move from the top of your head, down your body, checking in along the way to notice any sensations or tension in your body, all the way down to your feet. Continuing to breath as you move your attention. Stopping along the way if there is anything you find interesting. When you are ready, take another deep breath or two, open you eyes, and return to reading.
Did you notice anything you hadn’t noticed before? Were your shoulders hunched at all before you took the first deep breaths? Did you find any tension in your body? Notice anything else? We can do the same thing with thoughts and feelings, and invariably find things we hadn’t noticed before opening and focusing our attention in this way.
Why it Matters
The purpose of awareness practice is to support us to be present with the people and circumstances wee are facing in the moment, rather than ruminating about the past, projecting into the future, or otherwise being carried away by sensations, feelings, thoughts, and intuitions.
We cultivate awareness so we can reflect and respond to challenges and opportunities rather than react to them.
As I outline in detail in my book, Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living, Conscious Awareness is an essential element in the processes of building trust, bridging different perspectives and cultures, engaging stakeholders, and sustaining collaboration, all of which are increasingly important in business.
Two of the four tenets of Conscious Capitalism – Conscious Leadership and Conscious Culture – are built on the foundation of Conscious Awareness, and the other two tenets –Higher Purpose and a Stakeholder Orientation – require Conscious Awareness to activate and embody.
Much of what occurs within and between is unconscious. That is, it happens without our Conscious Awareness that is it happens, much as our heart beats approximately every second whether we notice it or not. Much, if not most, of our behavior is also unconscious – it happens almost mechanically, following programs set in place decades ago (and many of them are ancient programs built into our DNA over hundreds of thousands of years). While these unconscious patterns of thinking and doing may serve us in many ways (after all, we’ve made it this far), they may also limit and inhibit us from being more effective.
The Bottom Line
The ongoing practice of cultivating Conscious Awareness can be a powerful process for enhancing our effectiveness as a leader, collaborator and innovator.
Next week I will pull the lens back somewhat and outline key indications that the marketplace is calling for more Conscious Awareness in business. The following week I will explore the idea of Conscious Leadership.
As CEO of Working for Good, Jeff Klein activates, produces and facilitates mission-based, Stakeholder Engagement Marketing™ campaigns and Conscious Culture development programs. Join Jeff for It’s Just Good Business, a six-week tele-course beginning 9.22.11. Workingforgood.com