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Nitish Mukherjee

The author is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion

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Dark Roast Double Shot: When Sense Is Just a Halfway Inn

Having the sense to state what is right is an act of the conscious mind but to be that person requires the unmitigated support of the unconscious mind.

Photo Credit : Andrus Ciprian/Shutterstock


So much is forgotten; so little remembered. I had often wondered why I remember what I remember and forget what I forget? How much of what I remembered or forgot really mattered to me? Till finally the realisation dawned …. we are our memories. Who we are is profoundly impacted by what we know and believe, and all that is rooted in our memories. Our memory creates our identity.

It happened many, many moons ago but I remember it as if it were yesterday. In the early years of my work life, I found myself reporting to a person many years my senior with considerable experience in leadership positions. As it was a small office, I had the privilege to report directly to him and learn the ropes. Every Monday morning, he would conduct a group meeting in which other than discussing what lay ahead, as we were all much younger to him, he would spend considerable amount of time in telling us the personal traits that we should adopt to be successful leaders. We were told that we should never shout at peers or juniors irrespective of the provocation, we should learn to keep our composure. Listen respectfully and understand before responding. Accept that failures are an important learning experience and many such nuggets. I was as impressed with these thoughts as I was perplexed to observe over a period of time that in practice his behaviour was in sharp contrast to his teachings. I suffered acute cognitive dissonance, unable to resolve why someone who knew what was the right thing to do would actually resort to the exact opposite in his own behaviour.

Over the years I realised that this strange dichotomy is one of the biggest challenges of authentic leadership. ‘Knowing’ and ‘Being’ are not congeneric though they coexist in the same space i.e., the human brain. Having the sense to state what is right is an act of the conscious mind but to be that person requires the unmitigated support of the unconscious mind. In essence, sense is just a halfway inn, the destination is far beyond.

The conscious mind is the seat of logic and reasoning and the unconscious mind is the cradle of emotions. As the storehouse of all our salient and repressed experiences it is the seat of our beliefs. The unconscious mind is also continuously at work controlling all our body functions. Our breathing, the pumping of the heart, the blinking of our eyelid, the digestion of our food, the recognition of the smells around us is all being processed every nano second by the unconscious mind. It is the super computer with unlimited storage capability. It is ninety percent of our mind and the conscious mind is just ten percent. So, if we want to reprogramme or change anything, the conscious mind may decide the change and the mechanism to make it happen, but the actual process of change has to happen at the unconscious level. If we make changes at the conscious level and the unconscious mind hasn’t changed then the cravings continue and finally the conscious mind gives up and the old habits reign supreme.

So, if you want to walk the talk and not just talk the talk here are seven steps to make changes for authentic leadership.

Focus on one change

If you want to make a significant change in yourself, choose one at a time. It diminishes the possibility of distraction and consequent attrition from purpose. If you choose well one change can spawn many outcomes e.g., if you ‘value time’ it will make you more organised, increase productivity, be seen as being respectful towards people you interact with and many more.

Rid yourself of limiting beliefs

The unconscious mind believes what you tell it repeatedly, as it programs itself to your instructions. If you make statements like “My parent’s divorce made me lose faith in relationships” or “People don’t listen to you if you don’t shout at them” stop saying it to yourself or others. The more you articulate it the more you pattern your unconscious to that behaviour.

State your goal in positive terms

The unconscious mind is a highly moral being and it takes the morality that you have grown up with very seriously. The unconscious mind will not do anything that is in conflict with those values that are embedded there. If the conscious mind prompts ‘stop smoking’ a smoker’s unconscious will continue to build the craving. Stating ‘I will live a healthy life’ will lead to greater effectiveness in reprogramming.

Be mindful of your actions

The mind remembers that which you closely observe or are deeply engaged with. That is why you remember lessons you enjoyed in school or scenes from movies that really moved you. If you are aware of your own actions, your happiness or unhappiness with them will help pattern your behaviour.

Visualise the change you want

Unconscious mind prefers creativity and imagination to rational thought and logic. Visualising your own positive reprogrammed behaviour and its outcome is an extraordinarily potent way of making positive change. The saying ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ is actually true. You just need to dream it again and again.

Watch your environment

Your unconscious mind is constantly connected to your environment and absorbing information that it uses to shape your thinking and behaviour without you even realising it. As you work at reprogramming yourself, surround yourself with positive people, videos, music, books, conversations and let them work their magic.

Be generous to yourself

As you work on a being a better version of yourself don’t be too critical or cynical of your progress. Celebrate every little success and persevere. Your unconscious mind needs repetition and positive strokes till a habit is installed. Focus on the successes, learn from the failures.

Authentic leadership requires awareness, acknowledgement, resolve, effort, perseverance and a whole brain approach. The rewards are satisfaction, confidence, integrity, a true sense of purpose and an identity where actions inspire followers instead of Monday morning sermons to hostages.                                                                                                                   

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(Nitish Mukherjee is a Board Member, Advisor, Coach & Mentor. The content of this article is his personal opinion.)