A week ago I attended the inaugural workshop of the Institute for Zen Leadership in Spring Green, Wisconsin. I certainly expected this to be a good weekend away and I was excited to see The Zen Leader 'live show'. However, I did not anticipate how profound an experience it would be for me.
September has been a big month for me. Over this past summer I finished my research, analyzed the data, and wrote my dissertation. My PhD became official 2 weeks prior to the Institute for Zen Leadership weekend. Having worked on this for many years, experiencing all the ups/downs and highs/lows that come with such a program, a huge sense of relief and accomplishment washed over me on receipt of this news. I thought, "I can read a novel, take the dog to the park and finally watch a movie." In a PhD program, it is very easy to enter "coping mode" and, boy, was I in it at the end of my program! So the contrast between coping and final approval felt positively liberating.
What I didn't see until the weekend experience is that I never really made that flip. I never really let go of all of that nagging fear of failure and the daily practice of coping. Going into the weekend I was certainly no stranger to The Zen Leader and Ginny's work. In fact, I have gained much from it. The experience at the Institute allowed me to go deeper. It was an immersion experience, not just in Zen or some external leadership model, but in myself. I quickly realized that I was still stuck in old fears, holding on to my comfort in coping mode and really getting in my own way. I could see how much junk I was still carrying that wasn't serving me. I could see there was still work to be done.
Perhaps this sounds discouraging but that couldn't be further from what I was feeling. I felt more free than ever: free from those fears of having to have everything planned, and free from the shackles of coping mode getting in the way of my growth. I felt this overwhelming joy and power of all that is possible tomorrow. I had the opportunity to see how I would create tomorrow, embrace new habits, and envision new possibilities. This couldn't have been done by just telling myself to change but rather by engaging my whole self. My cognitive self was mentally reframing how I approach my day. My emotional self was paying better attention to how I was feeling and where it was coming from. My physical self was noting where I was holding tension in my body and taking stock of my energy levels throughout the day.
The Zen Leader book is packed with great exercises to help you break destructive routines and flip to freedom. Click here to download some free activities from the book to get you started today and see what possibilities open up for you tomorrow. And, if you want to take a deeper dive into any of these flips or exercises, another opportunity to experience the Zen Leader live at the Institute for Zen Leadership arrives February 7-10, 2013. Click here to learn more about the program and how you can register.