Leading from the Soul

Our natural inclination as humans is to live from the perspective of our ego: our thoughts and behaviors revolve around what we are getting or not getting from life or other people. We seek satisfaction; however, we never fully realize it because the ego is insecure and insatiable—it is never satisfied. Consequently, we are often left feeling somewhat empty or disturbed, as if there is something missing from our lives.

Interestingly, many of us go through our lives never realizing that we can make another choice, a choice that allows us to see our lives and relationships with others through a very different lens, the lens of the soul.

Switching from an ego-based to a soul-based perspective is a powerful paradigm shift.

The switch dramatically changes the way we experience the world, improving the quality of our experiences, opening our hearts, and leading us to a deeper understanding of life and the great gift that it is.

How do we make the shift to living from the perspective of the soul or living as ensouled loving beings?

First, we need to learn to distinguish ego-based versus soul-based thoughts and actions. When the ancient sage encouraged a person to “Know thyself” he was not speaking of knowing one’s ego. It was knowing one’s soul.

Second, because the ego is a constant presence in our lives, we need to recognize when it threatens to derail us.

Finally, during these destabilizing moments, we need to intentionally choose to view our life’s circumstances differently.

Here’s an everyday example of making a different choice. On one of my business trips I had a very frustrating travel day. The following morning, feeling exhausted and very grumpy, I left a popular hotel chain to meet a customer. As I exited the elevator, I read the hotel’s slogan, “Wake up on the bright side” and thought, “You must be kidding!” After I met the customer, however, I felt inspired to collaborate and help solve her problems. Suddenly, I found that I was engaging and energetic.

What happened? I made a choice. (Grumpy consultants are unemployed consultants!) But moreover, in choosing to be the best I could be for this customer, I discovered I had inner resources I wasn’t aware of.

I had suddenly got in touch with my soul!

We are all capable of viewing life from a soul-based perspective because it is an inherent part of who we are. It does, however, tend to be overshadowed by the insatiable needs of the ego.

At work and at home, it takes an intentional focus to respond to life’s challenges from a soul-based perspective. It also takes time to develop this awareness so that we can choose to shift our perspective at will.

As Thomas Moore notes: “Soul doesn’t pour into life automatically. It requires our skill and attention.”

Let’s take a look at some of the wiser soul-based skills we can develop:

  • We can choose kindness in responding to others (especially when they irritate us) rather than being judgmental
  • We can focus on using our talents and abilities to serve others as opposed to showcasing our accomplishments.
  • We can be present now, accepting what is and embracing it, rather than ruminating about the past or distracting ourselves with fantasies about the future.

An example of soul at work is the life and career of Ken Frazier, Merck CEO. In an interview with the NY Times “Corner Office” Ken commented

The most important role of a leader is to safeguard the heritage and values of the company.”

Read this important interview about a soul-based life. Read why and how he left Trump’s advisory business council, represented pro bono a person on death row, and made a series of value based decisions at Merck.

What choices are you making to live a more soul-based life?

What impact has this choice had on you and others?


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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