The following excerpt is from 'The Conscious Chief Executive Officer: Leading Your Nonprofit to Success Through Awareness', a leadership guide by Steven Bowman and Chutisa Bowman. You can order a digital copy of The Conscious Chief Executive Officer here.
Have you ever wondered what makes certain nonprofits thrive? Are they doing something differently from other nonprofits?
When you see the results of these successful nonprofit organizations, you are seeing the extraordinary work of conscious leaders. From our work with countless nonprofit organizations globally, we discovered that the leadership qualities of the chief executive can have a profound effect on the ability of a nonprofit organization to perform effectively.
The one underlying factor common in these types of chief executives is that they choose to be conscious leaders. They are truly aware of what is happening around them and they consciously choose whatever they do or not do. They create strategic innovation and change. Because of their vision, inventiveness, resourcefulness, nonconformity, unconventionality and creative talent, conscious leaders are sources of substantial transformation for their nonprofit organizations.
The skills they bring to an organization are much less important than the consciousness they bring, as consciousness will affect all people who are impacted on by that organization.
All nonprofit organizations have unlimited potential and possibility to become successful and thriving if they have conscious leaders. However, success without conscious leadership can bring only limited effectiveness. We have observed the power of conscious leadership over and over again in all kinds of businesses and nonprofit organizations. That is why we have created numerous books and workshop programs to facilitate leaders to expand their consciousness and zone of awareness. Higher levels of conscious choice and intensity of awareness are the keys to creating a balanced integration of organization vision, strategic and operational realities.
Whether you run a nonprofit charity, membership association, NGO, church or club the tools and information in this book will assist you to cultivate conscious leadership acumen and wisdom that you can apply to your own situation.
What is consciousness?
Consciousness is correlated to the intensity of awareness and the intensity of our connection with ourselves, with our acknowledgement of unlimited talents and abilities and the resulting expansion of our ability to be in communion with all things. This communion is the perceiving, knowing and receiving of everything without judgement or limitation, and is an ability that everyone has, but few choose.
"Conscious leadership is a process of ‘Being’ rather than ‘Doing’"
Awareness is the capacity to know everything. It is a continuous, ever moving, ever expanding possibility. It is the ability to be totally present in life without any judgment at all, of anything that goes on and the willingness to receive in totality the abundance and exuberance of life.
Awareness does not happen by accident. It is not something that occasionally comes into your perception. Awareness is something that you have every moment of every day and it’s something most people deny and refuse to have. They refuse this in order to create a life that fits into this polarized reality.
A polarized reality is one that is based on opposites and duality, on rightness and wrongness, good and bad, results, completion and having the answer. This human reality is one of polarity, sameness, judgment and limitation. Everything is about the significance, the meaning.
In order to live in this reality and to live under that pretence of what this reality is, people tend to cut off their zone of awareness. Leaders who shrink their zone of awareness will not be able to see beyond current realities. They will not be able to perceive the opportunities and will not sense the weak spots or dilemmas that their organization may encounter. They are the effect of life, not the cause.
What do we mean by being conscious? Being conscious is an experience of expanding our zone of awareness beyond its present limits. It is a state of flexible awareness, with no fixed points of view. The basic function of each individual being is expanding and contracting. Expanded beings are lightness, infiniteness and indefinable. Contracted beings are solid mass, density and limitation.
"Conscious leaders are masters of change since they do not accept current realities & choose to perceive beyond them."
An expanded being is what we call a conscious being. When we are completely expanded, we have a feeling of total awareness, of being one with life, that place where we have a stillness, a sense of total peace and tranquility, in which we have no capacity to judge. Living in that reality means that we allow all of life to come to us with ease and joy. Being conscious is the very process of expansion. It has nothing to do with new age concepts, the latest fads, or any “should” or “shouldn’t” beliefs.
What is the zone of awareness?
The Zone of awareness is a real psycho-physiological experience that each of us can choose to have right now. It is like a spherical atmosphere, where everything is in constant movement around us. It is the realm of infinite possibility.
Most of us have experienced being in this zone of awareness state. There is a heightened awareness and sensitivity. You become fluidity of beingness. You are out of control, out of definition, out of limitation, out of form, structure, significance, and out of linearity. You are functioning from infinite possibility. You define nothing and you are aware of everything. Your actions and purposes are matched, and the outcomes are dynamic, creative, efficient and rewarding. You emanate an energy field of healing, nurturing, caring, joyfulness, fun, expansiveness and an intensity of infiniteness.
To increase your zone of awareness requires you to come out of any limited points of view you might have created. Your zone of awareness is only limited by your refusing to perceive, know, be and receive everything without any limitations, fixed points of view or judgments.
Conscious leaders possess an intensity of awareness by continuously expanding their zone of awareness. They become a master of change since they do not accept current realities and choose to perceive beyond them. Can you imagine what it would be like to be able to foresee strategic opportunities?
Who can be a conscious leader?
We often begin conscious leadership workshops for nonprofit chief executives by inviting participants to entertain the possibility that every chief executive has conscious leadership potential. The key to becoming a conscious chief executive is “consciousness” — the talents and abilities that are innate to all of us. The good news is that it is possible for everyone to increase their zone of awareness and consciousness if they choose.
Those chief executives who stand out as truly extraordinary leaders, who have palpable presence, have already discovered the secret. They have claimed, owned, acknowledged and embraced this intrinsic inner resource. These extraordinary chief executives live in the world as the greatness that they are. They do everything from the place of consciousness and the space of beingness that invites everybody else to be the greatness of them.
For most people, this inner resource has been hidden and undeveloped. They do not know they have this potential or they do not believe that it is possible for them. Many chief executives perceive deep inside that they do have conscious leadership potential, but do not know how to develop it.
Consciousness resides inside each of us as an infinite reservoir of intuitive knowing, wisdom and acumen. If claimed, owned and embraced wholeheartedly, “consciousness” allows leaders to embrace their own extraordinariness and greatness without superiority or hierarchy.
When leaders choose consciousness, those around them share the rewards (this is the phenomenon of entrainment, described later in the book). A conscious leader is the source of an organization’s success, joy, glory and prosperity.
Conscious leadership is not a philosophy, nor is it some kind of airy-fairy mystical fabrication. Conscious leadership is a process of ‘Being’ rather than ‘Doing’. This establishes the quality, attitude and disposition which delineates truly extraordinary leaders.