Have you ever wondered why some leaders draw people to them, are good at decision-making, and gain your trust almost instantly? Other leaders, on the other hand, are difficult to get along with, engender a culture with high employee turnover, and make questionable decisions that negatively impact the future of the company? It has everything to do with a leader’s state of mind.
You’ve probably heard me use the terms ‘inside-out’ and ‘outside-in’ before. ‘Outside-in’ refers to the way we all get caught in the illusion that events and circumstances cause your feelings. Just as when you lose your balance and instantly get an insecure feeling – nature’s way of alerting you that you’re out of alignment with gravity – when you’re caught in the outside-in illusion you lose your balance psychologically. What alerts you to that is a sense of insecurity or anxiety. Your mind begins to fill up with lots and lots of thinking in its attempt to make sense out of what’s going on from the perspective of this outside-in illusion. Since that’s impossible to make sense of, your mind will continue to fill up with thought, and you will continue to feel anxious and insecure, no matter how many times you try to drop your thoughts, re-frame them into more positive ones (as in cognitive behavioral therapy) or settle them down through observing them or focusing on something (mindfulness). An outside-in perception of life puts you on shaky ground, and as long as you continue to see life that way your mind will keep being overactive. An overactive mind leads to stress, and eventually to reactivity. That reactivity repels people because it’s unpleasant to be around, and can lead to poor decision-making, as your IQ literally goes down when you’re in a state of mental stress. (“Where Did My IQ Points Go?,” Relly Neale, Psychology Today, 04/29/2011)
An inside-out state of mind, on the other hand, is based on the fact that life only works one way – that the only thing you ever feel is your thinking in the moment about events and circumstances. Seeing this fundamental and consistent truth about your psychological reality calms you down and gives you a fundamental sense of security about how you go about your life. Your mind will settle itself and drop enormous amounts of unnecessary thinking, as the principles that govern your psychological functioning are designed to help your mind do this on a regular basis.
That mental spaciousness is what creates magnetic leadership – it draws good things to you, as well as giving you a heightened capacity to make good decisions, engender trust and have good rapport with the people you lead. There is tremendous power in a responsive state of mind.