Integration: Where All You Are Comes Together To Lead
Originally published on 4/16/21 on Forbes Coaches Council
Do you live in your mind, body, heart or soul? Do you often find yourself using only a few of these elements of yourself but leaving out others? If so, you’re not alone. Most of us have taken to separating or segmenting these parts of ourselves depending on our context. We may leave “heart” out of the workplace and reserve it solely for family life, relying instead mostly on our minds in the professional world.
However, when you’re only paying attention to one or two of these aspects of yourself, you will have an incomplete picture of “you-ness” in the workplace. Contrary to popular belief, all of these components are necessary to succeed in the workplace. Bringing all of who we are into alignment is called integration.Integration of your whole self in the workplace shows up in a few key ways. A leader skilled in integrating knows and can communicate their own mission and vision, understands and is aware of their body messages and language, and connects to a power larger than self, thereby serving the collective goodness.
Mission, Vision And Purpose
Many people leave this lifetime never understanding that they have a purpose, much less knowing what theirs is and then aligning their life to it. That’s because purpose is a soul-centric idea — something we usually leave behind when we enter into our “work” self.
Do you know your mission, vision and purpose? Can you state it in a sentence? In my experience, 90% of people can’t. Nearly every company has a clearly written “vision statement,” yet as individuals, we don’t take the time to craft and articulate a personal statement of this kind.
Explicitly identifying your purpose is a gift to yourself. Having no statement or a vague idea leads to confusion and lack of clarity. With a proper vision statement, in one sentence, you tell the world who you are. This process requires intention and deep commitment but allows you to bring a deeper sense of soul into the workplace, creating clarity of action.
Internal And External Body Language
Our bodies often speak to us; however, we don’t always listen. Most of us are not taught to listen to our bodies. This type of integration is often sorely lacking in our culture.
For many years, my body was just the thing I used to get from the couch to the computer and to take the dog out for a walk. It was never a focus for me — until it stopped working the way it was supposed to.
I’ve suffered from Bell’s palsy twice now, which is rare. Even rarer — and very fortunately — I recovered both times. It was my body’s response to my working too much, not resting and generally pushing myself past my limits for too long. Now, I can recognize my body’s cues that I need to slow down. There’s a feeling I get that tells me, “Uh-oh, you’re right on the edge.” As a result, my body is now one of my biggest allies.
I learned through this wake-up call that the first step is simply being awake to how your internal and external body language is communicating. Then, you can work on interpreting and intuiting what those messages mean.
Start here: Close your eyes and take inventory of your internal body health. Are your muscles tight? Is your gut calm? Do you feel alert or groggy? Now, what about your external body language? You can stand in front of a mirror for this one if you’d like. Are your shoulders tense, pulled up toward your ears? What kind of hand gestures do you use?
For the most part, our bodies don’t lie. Our thoughts can cloud and overshadow our souls. If you’re ever unsure about something, try listening to your body. By integrating your body into your “professional” consciousness, you can start better taking care of yourself and showing up more authentically in the workplace.
Connection To A Power Larger Than Self
Being a graceful leader requires connecting to a power larger than yourself that serves the collective goodness. You can call this power whatever you want: Source, Nature, God, Buddha, the Universe.
Now, this may seem counterintuitive for many. We are hard-wired to leave spiritual ideas at home, not bring them into the workplace. However, this integration is key to powerful, dynamic leadership. It allows us to draw from something other than our individual motivation or energy.
This power does not need to be religious in nature. It does, however, need to be for the betterment of everybody. Some people in society are connected to something bigger than themselves that does not serve the collective goodness. Typically, the thing they’re connected to is rooted in hate or fear. We see this in xenophobia. When we honor anything that is not unity, we do not honor all that we are and our role in the collectedness.
Our grace center is directly plugged into Source, providing the access point to a higher power that serves the collective goodness. When we are disconnected from our grace center, though, we resort to personal power, which is finite. Connecting to our grace center — and thus Source — strengthens us and allows us to tap into an unimaginable well of collective power.
Allowing The True (And Best) You To Lead
Your head, heart, mind and body and soul are all necessary to cultivate the powerful leader within you. Most of us are skilled in bringing our heads into the workplace, and some of us even show up with our hearts, ready to extend empathy and creativity to those around us. However, by integrating all four (especially the soul and body, which are often ignored), we can harness the full power of our true selves. This is the tipping point of graceful leadership: allowing the appropriate you to show up and lead. It may be difficult at first, but I can promise you that integration can have powerful results in your daily life as a leader.