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February 1, 2021

Author: Venugopal Chepur

The one “I”​ for leaders

Leaders must have three qualities to lead: unwavering integrity, ability to inspire, and a profound sense of insight.

I’ve seen quite a few leaders lead with the first two, yet few pursued the third and perhaps the most relevant “I” of the three ‘I’s to help their own transformation: insight. Even if some did, their narrative stopped at no more than soliciting feedback or a cosmetic facelift that landed them at odds with their own inner image. A deficit of such pursuit has derailed those who had the other two I’s, integrity and inspiring, well ingrained.

What’s intriguing is that we all think we are intrinsically good – kind, generous, loving, and somewhat selfless. But it is when we begin our inward journey for gaining insight that we find our true authentic self, the sincerity of our intent, and directness of our empathy that can undo not-so-benign opinions, attitudes, and irrelevant barriers.

Leaders need to reflect and work upon themselves to develop a profound sense of insight for transforming to a new level of being as an authentic self of spirituality, care, and higher purpose. For this, they need to begin their inward journey with a conscious quest for metamorphosis.

My work experiences with leaders and the pursuit of my own spiritual journey pointed to a few simple steps. I found them to be helpful for an inward journey for gaining insight to address fundamental misconceptions of oneself.

Step 1: Housekeeping the inner image

Imagine your subconscious is like a software app that was downloaded at birth. It has accumulated and updated itself with memories, beliefs, fears (like in machine learning) – which shaped your inner image over a period of time. Your intellect depends on your inner image to prepare and prompt you for all your actions, reactions, and non-actions.

Imagine your subconscious is like a Software App that was downloaded at birth. Your intellect depends on it to prepare and prompt you for all your actions, reactions, and non-actions.

The first step towards an inward transformational journey is to become aware that your thoughts and behavior are a consequence of your intellect interacting with your inner image or identity, for every moment, situation, action, and experience.

For example, you experience a pleasant or unpleasant feeling whenever you see a person. This is because you see that person based on your interaction with your inner image, and perhaps hence either as a problem or benign person. Your experience is the result of your intellect interacting with your inner image, considered for the person.

But, with this awareness, slowly and yet steadily, you can begin to filter, acknowledge and mitigate such bias, and avoid those cosmetic gestures which are highly (and perhaps erroneously) prized for getting ahead.

Step 2: Active acceptance

Acceptance sets us free, free from a lot of confusion, stress, and misery. The way we feel depends on how we see and accept most events. It takes a ‘witnessing’ like capability – to observe and accept your own feelings in a detached manner.

Begin to accommodate somewhat unpleasant, disappointing situations when you are getting frustrated or angry. Recognize the emotion and stay watching it for a few moments. This first results in inertia momentarily, but helps with witnessing your own feelings and acceptance of the same. This acknowledgment of your emotions helps you: accept situations actively (to act), passively (for non-action or timely action), or resist/retaliate (reaction).

For example, you might experience anger or frustration owing to a potential legal problem (at times imaginary threat). When you accept this situation actively, you can carry on with proper actions without becoming ensnared in a story that can be otherwise paralyzing.

Don’t minimize frustrations. Accept, act and eliminate them.


Step 3: Sublimation of ego.

Our ego can grow with our perceptions of our superiority disguised under a corporate position, past professional achievements, personal designs or desires, associated pomp, wealth, etc.

One simple way to dissolve our ego is by sublimating it into a form of untiring energy to assist others but without expectations of return favors or laurels. This propels you into being an easily accessible, trustful, and ‘giving’ person with a kind of na·ive·té to see and serve others as co-souls and equals, and to live in a state of modesty, unassuming and joyous every moment, and in daily pursuits.

Step 4: Fulfillment

Rethink your work environment to seek a sense of fulfillment in everything you do – every day, every meeting, and every conversation. Consciously replace the pursuit of rewards and recognition by common goals and higher purpose. Begin to generously express your happiness and gratitude for every progress, moment, and in every relationship. This ripens human connections and widens possibilities.

This helps you realize you are not seeking or subscribing to any type of leadership whatsoever. Your ways of life define your own style of leadership. You will be less burdened since you seek results from within and not from the outside.

Step 5: Transformation ‘Fitbit’

Your awareness of acceptance, actions, expression of joy for every fulfilling moment, and relationship prepares you to live with the profound sense of insight, set you on for your inward journey for transformation. You begin to experience the emergence of your new avatar – just the way buildings appear as the previously erected scaffoldings are removed, albeit gradually, when complete. Continue the steps and meditate to sustain this journey as much. Create a mental equivalent of ‘Fitbit’ to monitor the progress of your inner connectedness with your actions and experiences.

You begin to experience the emergence of a new avatar just the way buildings appear as the previously erected scaffoldings are removed when complete.

The new avatar, when sustained consciously over a period of time, runs deeper to help evolve a renaissance person.

Joyous Dividends

The inward journey can be long and arduous for some. But the beauty is you begin to enjoy it almost instantly as you commit to the steps and experience the evolving logic of your spiritual self, and you see that people you work with, and outside, feel rewarded, and bring you the joy you never expected.

You stop looking to the outside world for validation of your value and recognition. You can grow yourself into being an institution-like entity with permission-less celebration, act like an open platform (like Amazon, Alibaba, eBay). Invite, enable, and celebrate moments with souls around you to multiply joyous dividends.

The insight of your authentic self, the experiences form your inward journey, together with integrity and the ability to inspire, you have all the elements you need to become a leader by your own definition.

Disclaimer: This is not a prescription for self-transformation. But a few useful ways of self-help I found valuable to share. Thanks for reading, and I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Originally published on my blog: Business and Bliss! … ChangeAhead … for employee change enablement!       #transformation #transformationalleadership #innerjourney #leadership #leadershipdevelopment #ChangeAhead #TrainedArrow # Change #businessgrowth #inwardjourney #OrganizationalDevelopment #OrganizationalChange.


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