Psychologists think of consciousness as “Our awareness of ourselves and our environment”.
This is a simple definition that leaves plenty of scope for interpretation of what “our awareness of ourselves” could mean.
Our bodies are really exquisite machines. When we say we see an object, what is really happening is that our eyes have detected something and sent a signal to our brain. Our brain then translates the stimulus into a message our mind can understand. So our awareness of ourselves could mean that we are able to interpret and understand stimuli generated by our senses. I really don’t like the idea of my existence being reduced to a bunch of electrical impulses firing around my body – and yet there is an undeniable truth in this view.
Things get interesting for me when I think about all the senses we have – what about our “sixth sense” for example. Many people have the ability to tune into what others are thinking and feeling and experience (to some degree) what the other is going through. I have had this experience many times and it changes my understanding of the other person.
If I take this theme a bit further I enter into the realm of meditation where I seem to have access to a deep level of consciousness that my senses can pick up . I must confess that I don’t meditate nearly enough to know this inner world well – and yet I am very aware of the inner peace and calmness of those who do. It is as if their perspective on life is different to mine and they can rise above the daily grind and see it for what it really is.
Reading through my words I have realised that the implicit assumption behind them is “raising consciousness” is a good thing. That engaging with and learning to use all our senses gives us a perspective on life that will change the way we see things. The model below shows what this could look like.
So what does this mean for a Conscious Leader? Well, I would argue that becoming a leader is a privilege that comes with great responsibility (not a responsibility that comes with great privilege). I believe that this responsibility includes devoting time and energy to developing consciousness. The real purpose of any organisations or business is human well-being. Leaders can only achieve and serve this purpose if they have developed their consciousness to the level where they understand what it means.
As Einstein famously said:
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
So raising consciousness and developing an understanding of ourselves and our environment is not just an indulgence – it is an essential for the conscious leaders we need to take us forward into the next age.