Locating Yourself

Locating Yourself

As you are aware, my development as a leadership coach has recently taken me to the study and application of Conscious Leadership. Here is what I am learning.
Conscious leaders continually ask themselves over and over,

“Where am I?”

Using the simple tool of a horizontal line, at any moment, all people and all leaders are either ABOVE the line or BELOW the line. This is how we are being with what is occurring in our life right now.

The authors of 15 Commitments of a Conscious Leader book suggest that 98% of leaders spend 95% of their time below the line.

When we are above the Line, we are open, curious, and committed to learning. When we are below the line, we are closed, defensive, and committed to being right.

So, stop right now and ask yourself,

“Where am I? In this now moment, am I above the line or below the line?”

Typically, when people are below the line, they believe certain things about the world.

For example, they believe there is not enough – money, time, space, energy and love. People below the line also believe that their story about the situation is right. People below the line also believe that there is a threat out there. Someone or something is threatening their desire for approval, control, or security.

People below the line see the situation as serious. The deeper below the line they are, the more serious thing look. People below the line tend to behave in a certain way too. They tend to cling to an opinion, find fault and blame, gossip, explain, rationalize, justify, get overwhelmed and avoid conflict or pursue conflict for the sake of WINNING.

When people are above the line, they believe that learning and growing are more important than being right. They believe that all people and circumstances are their allies, here for their growth. They believe that, from a distance, everything is funny.

People above the line live in curiosity, listen deeply, speak unarguably, question all their beliefs, and live a life of play.

Now, knowing what you know about being above or below the line,

“Where are you, Friend?”

One thing to know as you consider this question, we are hard-wired to go below the line. Literally, our brain is programmed to perceive threat. When it does, a chemical cocktail courses through our veins and we go below the line. This reaction was designed to help us survive in the presence of a real threat to our physical survival.

An issue for modern-day leaders is that often our brains can’t tell the difference between a threat to our physical survival and a threat to our identity. We react and get defensive when we experience a threat to our ego. So, in many ways, being below the line is natural and normal. Remember the statistics, 98% of leaders spend 95% of their time below the line?

But, when we are below the line, we are not in a state, literally brain state, of high creativity, collaboration, and relational connection. We are simply trying to survive.

Leaders today can’t thrive if they are in survival mode. So, the first activity of conscious leadership is location, location, location. In this now moment,

“Where am I?”

Telling ourselves and others the truth about our current location, begins the great conversation.



Rick Burris


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