February 2015 By Arun Wakhlu Only when you have achieved personal mastery, which is the capacity to live in awareness while focussing on the larger good, can you become an enlightened leader, says Arun Wakhlu Enlightened leadership is one of the most important needs in all spheres of society. It is needed for us to create a world that works for all: A world that is spiritually fulfilling, socially just, thriving, healthy and environmentally sustainable. It is leadership that is in touch with not only the world and its challenges around us, but also the vast inner resources of our mind. Personal mastery, based on being one with all of life, is the foundation for enlightened leadership. What is personal mastery? Personal mastery is the discipline of living with awareness and making choices that foster joy, peace and growth in oneself and in others. It is continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, focussing our energies, developing patience and seeing reality objectively in order to live life in the service of our highest aspirations. Personal mastery is choosing a life of freedom and responsibility. It is assuming responsibility for not only our emotional and physical choices in each moment, but also the direction our life is headed in. Personal mastery revolves around the idea that enlightened leadership starts with us – that no matter what our leadership level, roles or goals, the critical factor to begin with is inside us. Before we can lead others, we need to first lead ourselves. Inner governance precedes outer governance! Individuals who practice personal mastery are grounded in awareness. They are holistic thinkers, who approach difficult situations proactively and solve problems creatively. Below are a few principles and practices to develop personal mastery: Mindfulness Awareness is the foundation for personal mastery. It is essentially remembering, at all times, the infinite and timeless substratum of life. It is also about unblocking all that comes in the way of being fully accepting and present in the moment. An aware and conscious leader is able to see the reasons for a problem/challenge and make inner choices that look at the larger picture and change one’s response to outer things and happenings. Being grounded in awareness, a field of unconditional peace and joy, an enlightened leader remains clear and calm in all situations. Practices: Practice regular meditation. Be in the now. Eat mindfully and with gratitude in your heart. Chew all food till it is liquid. Take short moments of silence several times a day. Listen to people while looking into their eyes. Be attentive to their body language and feelings. Be like the accepting ocean or sky when you witness what life is bringing in the now. Inspiring and purposeful vision A large, expansive, purposeful vision for one’s life, a dream born out of one’s deepest gifts and aspirations to serve, is foundational to personal mastery. This comes from seeing the bigger context of life, thinking systemically, and seeing life as a joyous dance of interconnected evolution. It also comes from being peacefully aligned with the infinite Self (the source of all values). This alignment spontaneously guides one to the purpose of one’s life. Practices: Identify your deepest values. Listen to inner guidance, seeking what life is calling you to do. Remember that you are a “spiritual being having a human experience” and that all your life is a sacred journey of spiritual evolution. Convert this calling into concrete intentions and goals for speedy manifestation. Courageous initiative and action Inspired and courageous action is the hallmark of enlightened leadership. Personal mastery is about initiating audacious action on what one deeply cares about. At times a leader has to take actions that fly in the face of conventional wisdom. For this, one has to have the rational clarity and emotional conviction which lead to bold and expansive action. Personal mastery is also about persistence and sustained hard work in the pursuit of excellence. Practices: Ask yourself often “what is the one thing infinite love is calling me to do now?” and do it! Remembering that action is the greatest antidote to fear, act boldly now. Ask yourself, “what would I do now, if I knew that I would definitely succeed?” What are a few areas of your life that need you to be focussed and persistent? Choose to do something about them. Empowering attitudes and emotions Personal mastery is born of the understanding that through my choices of thoughts, emotions and actions, I create my own reality. My subjective choices are under my control. By remembering that infinite awareness is who I am, one can consciously choose the most wholesome and nourishing responses in all situations. This also includes taking great care of the body, mind and intellect for health and expansive joy. Joy is the hallmark of excellence in any field. We are only as powerful as we are joyful. Enlightened leaders are steeped in the joy of being. They radiate humour, compassion, positive energy and enthusiasm under all circumstances. They empower and nourish people spontaneously. They are catalysts of inner growth. Practices: See the infinite being that you are as the same inner core and essence of all other people and living creatures. Choose thoughts, perceptions and words that make you and others feel happy. Make the Inner AAG (fire) of awareness, appreciation and gratitude a constant mental habit. See the opportunities for growth in all that life is bringing in the now. Tell yourself often “everything will strengthen me; all is meant for my spiritual evolution”. Creative discontent and innovation Personal mastery is about being a conscious force for good. This involves challenging the status quo and fiercely standing up for what is new and excellent. Such leaders also listen to inner guidance on what they need to change in their own lives. They seek constant feedback from others on how they come across, accurately assess themselves, and are open to changing their own patterns of thought and behaviour. Such people are natural innovators. They do not resist change, but work with it. With positive and creative discontent, they challenge the status quo. They foster the challenging of prevailing modes of thinking and display mental agility in terms of seeing and unearthing mental models and assumptions. They renew and enrich life! Practices: Look at what areas of your own life are looking for change and renewal. Listen to your inner voice to see what you need to set right in your life. Identify and list down areas in your home, work and neighbourhood that need changes and improvements. Generate new and creative ideas to deal with these. Draw inspiration from your intuition…the tuition that comes from within. Be playful…playfulness expands joy and creativity. Play Personal mastery is not for the faint-heated or serious! Seeing life as a vast divine play is a mark of personal mastery. When we understand that all is like a transient movie on the eternal screen of awareness, we relax and laugh. When we see that this “movie” has been designed for the evolution of the fictitious “me” to wake up to the wholeness of life, the divine perfection that already exists now, we can only laugh out louder! Personal mastery means carrying out what life is calling me to do now with the utmost of zeal and responsiveness. Also, to do this remembering that Life is all a divine play…a LILA of Love In Loving Action. Practices: Do not take yourself too seriously! Take time to play…do something that truly delights your heart (like singing, dancing, gardening or trekking). Always remind yourself that all is transient… “this too shall pass”. This will keep you relaxed and happy. Personal mastery is an ongoing journey for enlightened leaders. At every stage in their lives, they need to work at the foundational level to go to the next level of capability and excellence. This is best done by working at the roots of awareness and building the self-understanding and action to mature to the next level. A commitment to cultivating personal mastery as a way of life is a long-term affair. Enlightened leaders understand that the cultivation of personal mastery creates ripple effects, not only in one’s immediate family and workplace, but also in ever expanding circles in the rest of society, the nation and the world. This happens mainly by the outstanding example that enlightened leaders set. The personal and cultural transformation that follows (like rippling waves) significantly enhances the capacity of all to make better choices. This helps us to bring forth, with ease and grace, the one wholesome world we all truly want. Bio: Arun Wakhlu is an inspired facilitator, CXO coach and chairman, Pragati Leadership
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