Meditation has become a mainstream concept among today’s corporate leaders and executives. It’s nearly impossible to listen to a leadership podcast where the leader doesn’t mention a daily morning practice of sitting in silence, observing his or her surroundings without judgment, and breathing deeply.
The use of helpful apps like Headspace and Calm have become common practice to relax after a stressful interaction or drop into a deep sleep. “Do you meditate?” is a common question asked of new colleagues to see if they are “in the know.”
I have nothing against meditation. Sometimes I do it, most times I don’t. When I do it, my nervous system calms and my mind slows. My face softens and I do feel for a moment that all is right with the world.
What meditation doesn’t solve for, though, is self-censorship. What I mean is, the practice of meditating does not help us get through the clutter of our mind in a way that reveals clarity on the other side. As a leader, I believe, your job is to have clarity of intent and purpose – first for yourself and then for those you lead.
The Self-Sabotage Game
One of the lingering effects of this past pandemic year has been a rise in self-censorship and self-doubt. Is there something that you didn’t say recently because you were afraid to? It’s happened to us all this year.
Afraid to lose their jobs or status, many leaders have chosen not to speak up and share their opinion for fear that it may run counter to a cultural norm. Self-censorship may help keep a leader employed and with stable relationships, but over time, this act of self-sabotage has the potential to dampen the creative and innovative impulse of a leader.
If you’ve found yourself playing small, silencing your voice, and not taking risks, meditation will only take you part of the way to the other side where you are self-expressed, fulfilled, confident, and attracting new opportunities and relationships.
First, you’ll have to release the hold of your self-censor – your rational, logical mind. Yes, that part of your mind is incredible! She works on your behalf to come up with the best ideas, to organize resources, and get stuff done. She also happens to be your number one censor.
Imagine what it would feel like to have no censor? To speak, act, and live freely as the leader you’ve been called to be?
But what if you realized that your creative, holistic brain – your artist’s brain – is the part of your mind that will amplify your greatness and help you to bring into the world all that you envision?
Do What the Artist’s Do
There’s a simple daily act that you can incorporate into your 2021 morning routine to soften the reins of your self-censor and drop back into your creative, big-hearted self. It’s called the Morning Pages and it comes from the book and practice known as The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Guide to Creativity by Julia Cameron.
Creatives like painters, screenplay writers, sculptors, actors, and filmmakers have long followed this process to receive career-defining creative breakthroughs. The same breakthroughs can happen for you as a woman in business!
How does the process work? It’s so simple, but like all simple things, not easy. Here’s what you do: write three hand-written pages in a journal each morning.
Yes, that’s it. Three pages, stream-of-consciousness.
Swap Your Morning Meditation for Morning Pages
This is a tool for you to become a more fully expressed – and impactful – leader in your life and career. Let’s explore what this will do for you and why it works.
Writing in your own handwriting – versus typing on the computer – creates a powerful connection to self and the world at large. Your penmanship is one of your unique signatures, and it’s important to express yourself fully with that clunky cursive you’ve long-forgotten.
Writing three pages gives you the space to write junk for a while before you get to the good stuff. This is part of the process. What is on your mind in the morning? Thoughts of dread for the packed calendar ahead? Whimsical thoughts from a dream the night before?
The purpose of the three pages is to let it all out. This is the act of releasing and softening your censor. The first page and a half will probably feel silly and superfluous. Good. Chances are that your final paragraphs will reveal gold. An idea that you hadn’t had before. An observation that suddenly makes more sense. You’ve let your logical brain have it’s fun and then moved toward your creative brain letting loose a bit.
Writing each morning – and at least for three months – allows you to start to undo the decades of self-censorship you’ve experienced in your life. Slowly but surely, you will start to be amazed by your desires and intentions.
This process is about writing what you want to have transpire in life – it is your new megaphone to say, “Hey World! This is who I am, and this is what I desire to create.”
Your Energy is Your X-Factor
If you want to be a more transformative, impactful leader in 2021, consider starting your day with this exercise instead of – or in addition to – your morning meditation.
Definitely do this before you check emails and let your rational brain run wild. And commit to this practice for yourself if you sense there is more possible in your life than what is transpiring in this moment.
As a female leader in business, your energy and passion is one of your greatest assets for creating change and getting results. Let that creative, energetic woman loose in 2021. Write your morning pages, let the doubts subside, and shine brightly for us all to witness.