Leadership is a continuous practice. As our work changes and evolves, we must be able to navigate the change to accomplish our objectives.
After publishing the first edition of Awake Leadership, I wrote a post about the iterative cycles and what the staircase represents. Now, a year and a half later, the second edition of Awake Leadership is available with a beautiful new staircase design that marks our progress as we work through the guidebook. In this post, I’ll expand on the meaning of the spiral staircase, the seven vitals, and talk about my own latest round up the staircase.
When I was a leader, I realized that each day should include some kind of progress. Progress toward what? Progress toward the team Vision and our individual potential as team members. I also realized that we return to certain practices and routines every day, every week, every month, and every quarter that support and structure our progress.
In the Awake Leadership system, each of the seven sections focuses on a different leadership vital. At the beginning of each section, readers find themselves standing on a new, higher step on the staircase. The staircase may mean different things to different leaders but, for me, the staircase represents the continuous upward progress of an Awake leader’s journey: cycles, iteration, and uncharted territory.
Cycles: Repeat to Grow Stronger and Navigate Change
I am someone who does not like repetition. As a creative person, I like new projects and discoveries. However, I have found that certain practices that I repeat and return to over and over again make me stronger.
A round on the staircase is a cycle of practicing the seven leadership vitals. The Awake Leadership vitals and exercises tether and support the work as it changes and evolves. They are pillars amidst the change. No matter what the nature of the work is, the vitals stand there for you as a means for checking in on blind spots and for working toward your objectives. The seven vitals and exercises are pillars for you to return to in order to cultivate a well-rounded leadership practice.
Iteration: Reflect and Learn to Improve
Each round of practicing the seven Awake Leadership vitals is a cycle; however, it is an upward cycle. You are not just going around in a circle over and over again. The Awake Leadership system is iterative; as you continue to work through the vitals, you will progress with your team.
The key to make the cycles upward cycles and not flat cycles is to learn. When you look back on past cycles and reflect yourself and as a team about what went well and what could have been better, the next round can be an iteration and an improvement over the last. Reflection and awareness fuel continuous improvement.
Uncharted Territory: Take on New Opportunities and Build to Grow
Have you ever felt stuck, as though your day-to-day work is a tedious cycle of the same routine tasks over and over, as though you’re not progressing or given new work? The Awake Leadership system is designed so that leaders and team members fulfill ongoing expectations but also grow. Growth happens by building on the previous Vision or taking on new opportunities. Awake Leaders are always seeking new experiences and opportunities to learn.
The exercises in Awake Leadership foster individual and collective progress. Each round is different because the exercises cultivate more awareness and foster a new round of progress. When you begin again, you’ve reached new potential and have accomplished work toward your team Vision. You’re now ready to start again and reach new heights. You iterate on what you learned in the previous round and you build on the work you accomplished.
I believe we should always be working on our next round up the staircase. Each round up the staircase represents new growth and therefore new possibility. It takes work to climb. It takes energy and dedication.
What is your Vision? What is the Structure? What Support and Tools do you need? What is the Context? What is your Inspiration? What newfound version of Freedom have you unlocked?
My Latest Round Up the Staircase
Publishing the new edition of Awake Leadership has been a big project. I first published Awake Leadership in 2017. It is my first book. I received positive feedback about the content, along with a lot of constructive feedback about the design. As an engineer, I didn’t realize that though the book was useful, it wasn’t as useful as it could be with a more user-friendly design. I had put my heart and soul into the content and exercises but I hadn’t paid much attention to the design. Writing, designing, and publishing this second edition of Awake Leadership was more about Design than anything else. Much of the content remains the same. However, this iteration represented a new round up the spiral staircase for me as I returned to the Vision and worked on a much-improved version of the guidebook.
In the first edition of Awake Leadership, the Vision was to write and publish a book and see if I could do it. I had never written anything longer than a blog post before and, though I had all the content in my head for the book, I doubted whether I could actually write, design, and navigate the publishing process. I learned so much about publishing. I also developed a lot of patience. When I finally finished the book and received it from the printer in a form that was acceptable, I hit publish. It was satisfying that I did it.
A year after publishing the first edition of Awake Leadership, I had written my second book, Awake Ethics and was ready to publish it as well. As soon as I published Ethics, it occurred to me that I could do better. I was ready for a new round up the staircase. I had learned the process of publishing successfully but there was room for improvement in the design. I decided to embark on the next phase of the Vision. The Vision was now to create a book that had a beautiful design. The design didn’t entail just artwork and formatting but the overall reader experience. I rethought the size of the book, the color, the fonts, the formatting, and, of course, the staircase. I had to do the book justice. So, this new round up the staircase was an education in design for me. I teamed up with some amazing people locally to brainstorm and work together on this new design and I am so happy with it. The learnings and connections I made were invaluable. The process of working up this new round of the staircase was equally as satisfying as the beautiful result. I not only feel like I have new potential as a writer, designer, and publisher but also that I have made new connections and have a new appreciation and understanding that I hadn’t before this round. This is what the Awake Leadership system and exercises are all about: new understanding, new experience, new connections, and progress.
For more behind the meaning of the seven colors and vitals, you’ll have to read the book!
Whether you are a leader of a team or a team member, I hope that you find yourself working toward a Vision you’re enthusiastic about and allows you to learn and progress toward new potential. Remember that the process is as important as the results.
Ready to start your journey up the Awake Leadership Staircase?
Learn simple actions and exercises for how to balance clear direction and creative freedom as a leader in Awake Leadership. The guidebook is a system and How-To guide for creative leaders. It contains essential exercises for curing the symptoms above and balancing your leadership style.
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Awake Leadership is also available for retailers through Ingram.
Awesome spiral staircase illustration and graphic by SOL-Vision | http://www.sol-vision.design