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Unleashing Audacious Wholeness

Wholeness is an often talked about idea that sounds good yet doesn’t match the reality of today’s business environment. Leaders often say, “yes, I want that and it’s just not reasonable to expect.” The irony is that wholeness is, it exists, and it is accessible when we give a bit more focus to our internal capacities for intuition, instinct, imagination, and an appreciation for seeing something we don’t already know. This blog puts some historical context around what makes it feel hard to be audaciously whole and offers five super easy practices to being unleashing wholeness in your uniquely audacious way. 

At this fractious and chaotic moment in human history, unleashing audacious wholeness may appear fantastical, not practical, or possible. Considering this invitation from an outside-in perspective, pursuing BHAGs for any business feels daunting. Cascading global crises, humanitarian and environmental disasters, and governmental leaders with questionable ethics influence our sense of wholeness. That influence produces stress that can lead to anxiety and diminishment of cognitive, emotional, and physical vitality. A natural phenomenon, many leaders quietly suffer under the weight of responsibility to navigate this environment, shielding their team, customers, and family in what feels like an impossible dream. Already working outside their comfort zone due to the environment, leaders are loathe to give much head space to paradigm shift and being ambitious; they want first to survive. 

Pause attention on that outside-in description of the current circumstances on the planet. Take a breath and shift your attention to the inside out. To do that, use your imagination to focus on your internal landscape, the parts of you that exercise intuition, instinct, and an appreciation for the organic and spontaneous as valuable and coexistent with the analytical and planned. Notice how you now experience the same circumstances differently; your experience shifts, and you perceive the circumstances from a new angle. My simple invitation provokes something; it's accessible yet profound. It's an exercise to illustrate that shift is possible instantly, provides a valuable new perspective, and perhaps, alone as a single step, is not sustainable. Why is that?

In the 15th century, humanists popularized the idea that all humans have the capacity for self-improvement. In the 20th century, Dr. Carl Jung broke away from the psychological theory of the time to develop analytical psychology based on the idea that all human beings are already whole and that life is a journey to integrate all parts of the self to self-actualize. He saw wholeness as the internal force that drives human development. Unfortunately, businesses from then on, right up to the 21st century, pushed personal life development out of professional life development. Top leaders viewed these two domains as entirely separate, denying the principle of wholeness and negatively impacting efforts to optimize human potential. 

Professional coaching and other human development methods address today's dramatic need to improve physical, emotional, and mental health for leaders at every level of organizations and, through them, the workforce's well-being. No longer reserved for the private clinical setting, exploring our path to wholeness shows up at the dinner table, in the office, on the athletic field, and in entertainment. Leaders often remark that through their generative coaching work, they experience a sense of integration internally. The competing perspectives that argue inside their heads and hearts about what choices to make, which people to engage, and why some options are riskier than others shift toward focusing on curiosity and collaboration. The paralyzing tension breaks free to a greater sense of flow.

Wholeness involves integrating all aspects of internal selves, expressed as energy, into a cohesive and unified whole. Wholeness means honoring all parts of us, including the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. When we achieve a sense of wholeness, we can experience greater self-awareness, inner peace, and authenticity. These all sound good, right? So why don't all leaders seek this before facing cascading crises that create paralyzing stress? 

Shankar Verdantam, the creator of the award-winning podcast Hidden Brain, coined the phrase "illusion of continuity" to describe the inexplicable reason that our brains cannot accurately forecast who we will become. We are constantly becoming a new person, and we build more certainty to tap into more of ourselves when we stay curious, experiment with new experiences that expand our horizons, and learn to revel in not knowing because only then can we see the new possibilities. As we close out the month of January, I invite you to imagine being audaciously whole, unleashing more of your already present potential awaiting your attention and focus. Here are my 5 Ps in Pod for you to start unleashing the wholeness waiting for you internally and be audacious every day.

  1. Perceive persistently inward. Even if it is just five minutes a day, gift yourself time to focus inward and listen to your intuition, instinct, and spirit for what's possible.
  2. Prepare consciously and consistently. Resist the urge to act fast and act deliberately by adding just five minutes to pause and consider a system view of your choices to be sure you are not overlooking an unintended consequence that creates a new challenge!
  3. Practice renewal in a full sensory scope. Mind, body, heart, and spirit appreciate your attention and reward you with sustaining vitality that can absorb and dissolve stress that places limits on your endurance.
  4. Pursue relationships that uplift you and remind you that you have that capacity with everyone you care about, learning and sharing what's working.

Prosper reciprocally with generous gratitude that you can shift and expand how you serve, nurture, and bring more love into your life's work.

Image Source: Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies © 2004 Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Janet M. Harvey, MCC

Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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