When it comes down to awareness, this is the cornerstone model for how I work with individuals, in workshops, and retreats. Like most of the essential stuff, it came up in the most unlikely moment: I was having brunch in a nice café together with some good friends and needed a simple way to explain the inner conflict that many people are facing today. So – thank you, universe – it just manifested on the placemat.
01. Knowing who you are
The awareness of who we essentially are is the key to unleashing our full potential as a leader. There are countless walks of life. Whether we are running a family, a fortune 500 company, or simply our own life – I trust that we have reached a certain level of mastery in our »outside« leadership. But what about our »inner« leadership? This is where it all begins and what it all comes down to. So let’s have a closer look at who we really are and what happens inside of us.
02. Illusion versus reality
This might be new to you, so I invite you to just lightheartedly follow me on this one: On one side, there is our IDENTITY – like our name, our degrees, our family, our job, our memories, our plans for the future, our belief-system, our values, and so on. On the other side there is our SELF – the essence of who we are. Some call it the soul, the intuition, the heart, the universal self or the god-self. The IDENTITY is what most people think they are, and the SELF is what each of us really is. Why? Because everything that we call IDENTITY is merely a replaceable illusory bubble that has no inherent truth to it. More so, it is the cause of all suffering and the very reason to cultivate awareness.
03. Growing-up versus real adulthood
As children we have no IDENTITY. We don’t even know our names. When we hurt ourselves and then see a beautiful butterfly, the pain is immediately forgotten. When we want ice-cream, we want it now and not tomorrow. What is tomorrow anyway? Over time our self-image (aka ego) forms and provides us with a sense of belonging and security. But what it also does is create separation. This is me and I’m different from you. You are either better or worse than me, and this is how I define myself in the world. We have been growing-up to this point, but this is not maturity at all. Adulthood is the »journey« towards SPIRITUAL MATURITY. The rediscovery of our true nature, of who we essentially are, of our true SELF. A journey of complete awareness.
04. The sleeping state
Much like in a dream, we are running around being fully identified with what we think we are. At the same time, we are completely unaware of what we truly are. We look at the world through our colored glasses of perception and judge everything and everyone accordingly. Habit and conditioning plays out in an automated way. If we look closely, there is not much choice here. We are mostly reactive instead of observing from the detached place of the SELF first. Living this way is limited and often experienced with a lack of true connection, clarity, and fulfillment.
05. The awakened perspective
The shift has happened. This is the other side of the coin and from now on we look from the perspective of the SELF. Having discovered the true innate SELF, the background of unbroken awareness is established. That means: we can drop fear and look from a place of love. To translate that into business language, it simply means that we are no longer experiencing victimhood, confusion and anger. We shift our perspective into opportunity-thinking. Every challenge becomes an chance to express ourselves in full flow. Whether it is the ‘individualwe’ or a team of people, we have a solid foundation under our feet. The foundation of detached awareness.
06. Edgecase Unawareness
We all are somewhere along this simple model. And believe me, it sometimes shifts very quickly. However, there is a relative home-base. Like in quantum theory: every possible position is available, but some are more likely. The observer (or the position of the observer) changes the game. To make it simple: people who are mostly identified with their name and story will perceive and interact with the world in exactly that way – fearful, ego-driven, and with a distinct sense of entitlement and separation.
07. This is (not) a journey
Paradoxically, the process that I’m describing is not a journey. It may feel like a process of getting insights and maturing, but ultimately the full spectrum of awareness and un-awareness is available to each and everyone of us in every moment. A person who mostly shows up unaware may have glimpses of complete connectedness to their true SELF. It may be sitting on a beach and fully immersing in a sundown, having the best sex of your life, or forgetting everything that we are not at a zen-meditation retreat.
08. Edgecase Awareness
A person who is fully aware of the true SELF and has dropped his or her IDENTITY experiences life completely different. There is no separation, there is no fear, there is no pressure and for sure no burnout. Is there a difference between this person and a completely unaware person? Not at all! As I said, both have the full spectrum of experience available all the time. What changes and shifts is »just« the vantage-point. Once discovered, that awareness is what we are. This is quite something.
09. We’re all prone to screw up
Ram Dass once said: »If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.« In this dualistic world that consists of interrelated opposites such as black and white, warm and cold and so on, the awakened state needs the sleep state as its counterpart. Just a reminder every now and again of what’s real and what’s not. In this way, even a Buddha is attacked by his egoic IDENTITY every once in a while. It’s good that way.
10. In awareness all is one
Awareness is the key to inner leadership. Why? Because without it we are nothing but robots in a production line. The value of awareness is immeasurable. It is not only the key but also the keyhole through which we perceive the world. When we understand this, we are solid as a rock. IDENTITY, YOU, SELF – whatever you look at, it appears in-front of a background of unbroken awareness.
Have you found it? Are you looking from that place? Do you want to take the red or the blue pill? It’s up to you.
You are the creator of your life.