Conscious v Unconscious Leadership

Conscious Leadership Overview

The 15 Commitments of a Conscious Leader has been one of the most paradigm-shifting books I have ever studied. Perhaps, a more complete depiction is that it has been both paradigm-shifting and paradigm confirming. Among other reasons, the study of this book has added value to me is because it both reinforces my training and experience as a leadership coach; and it also challenges me to examine my habits, thoughts, beliefs and agendas. Not only does it make me want to be a more conscious leader, it also offers proven descriptions, definitions, and demonstrations of conscious and unconscious leadership in a manner that is easily understandable. There are several relevant takeaways I hope to share but here is a quick overview of the contrasts between conscious and unconscious states of leadership.

To begin, the book authors state that, from their experience 95% of leaders spend 98% of their time below the line as their default mode of...

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Fact V Story

Fact v Story

Are You Sticking With That Story?

As both a student and practitioner of leadership, I have to say that this has been one of the most paradigm-shifting books I have ever studied. The premise of the book is demonstrated by a single horizontal line. At any given moment, we are either living unconsciously BELOW the line, or consciously ABOVE the line. In the coming days, I will have more to explain about what this means. But, let me share just one tidbit with you related to the stories we create.

Have you ever been in a public setting and noticed a stranger was looking at you? You know, that awkward moment when you make eye contact with someone who was not expecting you to look their way. You can tell instantly that they have been looking at you for a while in a curious sort of way.

It happens all the time. We are both viewer and viewee several times per day. What is taking place in these moments is our brains functioning as they were designed. It is the constant dance of...

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Save the Drama for Your Mama

Save the Drama for Your Mama

A couple of years ago, I was asked to help lead a teaching session on the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. The audience was a group of bright young interns at Cisco Systems in Atlanta. I joined the meeting via a video link. In the room with the interns was fellow John Maxwell team member and Cisco employee, Fu Che.

As the meeting began, Fu said something to the interns that I can only hope they remembered as well as I have. He told them,

“Cisco is NOT responsible for your career.”

How refreshing! I needed someone to say that to me 30 years ago. It is so easy for us to slip into a mindset that someone or something outside of us will magically take care of us and then, when things don’t go the way we want, it is everyone else’s fault.

As I shared in another post, this “To Me” way of life is where the Conscious Leadership Group estimates that 95% of leaders spend 98% of their time. This...

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Seriously Fun

fun play Dec 15, 2020

Seriously Fun

In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff, Richard Carlson, PH.D. says,

“We live our lives as if they were one big emergency! We often rush around looking busy, trying to solve problems, but in reality, we are often compounding them.”

Our need to be right and our basic desire for approval, security, and control creates suffering. In other words, it is not our issues that are causing us pain, it is our interpretation of these issues that causes pain. As the Conscious Leadership Group puts it,

“Life doesn’t come with labels, we give life labels.”

When we recognize this about ourselves, there is an option we can choose to restore our perspective and accept reality as it is. Play.

Stuart Brown, author of the book Play, defines play as,

“An absorbing and apparently purposeful activity that provides enjoyment and suspends self-consciousness and a sense of time. It is also...

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emotional intelligence Dec 15, 2020


I would like to give voice to the topic of entitlement. I want to be careful in working through this message. It would be much more pleasant to write about an energy producer rather than the energy vampire that entitlement seems to be. This also feels like a topic that is easy to sermonize as a clever, or perhaps desperate, attempt to keep it from becoming too personal. To me it is a bit like picking up a snake grabber and reaching into a barrel of rattlesnakes and lifting out a big one. You have to squeeze the snake grabber as tightly as possible and manhandle the snake at just enough distance to keep from getting bitten.

The elephant and rider metaphor really works for me when it comes to understanding the role entitlement plays in thwarting our aspirations. Entitlement has a peculiar nature. It seems to me that the more one is given, the higher the likelihood of one’s sense of entitlement increasing. I don’t know when it happens exactly, but at some point,...

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Occupy the Territory

celebration Dec 14, 2020

Occupy the Territory

This week we have been looking at Automatic Negative Thoughts (A.N.T.s). You can go back to the list in Monday’s email, but keep in mind that the point of identifying ANTS is to be an ANTeater by talking back to your negative thoughts. This is a practice of challenging your thinking. It is distrusting our negative thoughts as the definers of our reality. Let’s quickly look at another element of ANTeating.

It is written, that the mouth speaks from what fills the heart. Is it any wonder then, when we dwell on negative thoughts, that our conversations will also be habitually negative? Our Automatic Negative Thoughts becomes our Automatic Negative Speech. There is certainly a time and place for sharing our burdens with one another, but we don’t want to be that friend who overshares – know what I mean?

This morning I was re-reading part of Dr. Joseph Umidi’s book Transformational Intelligence: Creating Cultures of Honor at Home and at...

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Where is Your Heart?

Where is your heart?

Hamlet to Horatio:
Give me that man
That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.


Thus, Hamlet does not say "in my heart of hearts," but "in my heart of heart"—that is, at the "heart" (center) of my heart. The phrase is in fact a synonym for "In my heart's core." And like the heart of an artichoke, the heart of Hamlet's heart is its most tender part. He reserves this region of his affection for men who aren't slaves to their passion, who are governed by reason, like his friend Horatio (whom he addresses here) and, indeed, like the phrase-coining Shakespeare.

We've perverted the phrase into "in my heart of hearts" by way of expressions like Ecclesiastes' "vanity of vanities." But where Ecclesiastes had a number of vanities from which to elect a chief or encompassing vanity—presumption—one doesn't have a number of hearts. Even granting that we use "heart" mostly as a metaphor...

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Speak Like a King

The King’s Speech

Recently, my family and I watched the movie, The King’s Speech, for the second time. I enjoyed it the first time through, but this time I was fascinated my Geoffrey Rush’s character, Lionel Logue. As I watched, I realized Lionel was showing up in the life of the Duke of Windsor in a way no other person ever had. He showed up as a coach. The Duke had spent his entire life strapped with the identity of a stutterer. Except for his wife and children, every other person he encountered, could see nothing more than a stutterer and their interactions with the Duke were limited to their focus on a stuttering problem. Anyone who met the Duke saw this problem as something they had to ignore, tolerate, apologize for or fix. Many so-called experts with their massive egos were thrust upon the Duke more than eager to make a name for themselves by forcing their own brand of an external solution to the Duke’s stuttering problem.

Director, Tom Hooper did an...

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Where is Your Compass Pointing?

growth Dec 13, 2020

Where is Your Compass Pointing

Is personal growth important to you?

Viktor E Frankl, Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning wrote,

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”


As I press into growth, I am reminded that experience is a given, but personal growth is a choice. Often, the choice to grow is the choice to do what you fear.

Today, I read that fear is like the compass that leads us to growth.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

“What we fear of doing most is usually what we most need to do.”

I wonder what form personal growth is taking on in your life right now.

What are you intentionally doing to promote your own growth? I would be curious to hear your response.

Where is your fear compass pointing?

Let me know.


Rick Burris

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The Secret Change Formula

change growth Dec 13, 2020

The Secret Formula

What do you believe about success? Is it an art? Are some people just born to be successful and others are not?

Now I can hear my friend Henry saying,

“That depends how you define success.”

Perhaps he would be right, but for the sake of today’s message, I will ask you to put your own definition on what success would mean to you in this present moment.

However, I would like to suggest that success requires a change of some kind. Change is about letting go of the known and stepping into the unknown. It appears to involve the possibility of failure; and if so it means somehow releasing control. The kind of change/success I am talking about is radical/transformational; and it can be approach scientifically.

At least that’s the conclusion that Richard Beckhard, organizational theorist (1918-1999) believe when he and David Gleicher put forth the original formula for change in the 1960’s which was then refined in the 1980’s by...

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