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August 28, 2021

Sovereign Leadership: Embodying Archetypes for Inner Confidence.

 

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Do you know that feeling of being super confident?

That feeling when whatever you turn your hand to, you’ll do it with ease and grace. You’ll be in a state of creative flow and feel vibrant and assured.

It might be recent or in your distant past—and it might have lasted a moment, a fleeting glimpse, or a prolonged period.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could have it on tap so that we could bring the best of ourselves to our work, relationships, and daily life experiences?

I call this internal state “Sovereign Leadership.” It is easily accessible through the feelings, sensations, and alignment of the body.

We are all sovereign. It is our birthright.

When born, we take space. We confidently smile, cry, and make our presence known. We embody our sovereignty, confidently moving, learning, interacting, exploring, discovering, and evolving. And when we get knocked, we bounce back, adapting and growing with our new knowledge. This is also Sovereign Leadership.

Our sovereignty is a gift of nature. It’s inherent in our bodies and built into the fabric of nature’s balance and harmony. The wisdom of our breath keeps us relaxed and at ease and the strength of our body allows us confidence.

And when we are relaxed and confident, we lead our lives with grace and dignity. Think of any great leader or person you respect. When they lead, there is a relaxed ease, confidence, and certainty that is compelling. That kind of leadership is engaging, enrolling, and inspiring. It sets an example we long to follow and mirror.

Indeed, when we witness this kind of leadership, we find it in ourselves. We stand taller, open our shoulders and chest, breathe deeper, and act from this place of embodied confidence. This is Sovereign Leadership too.

Its source is the archetypes. Carl Jung first identified these universal motifs, such as Sovereign, that appear across cultures and throughout time. Sovereign is a state of being that comes with its own embodiment, mindsets, emotional states, and spiritual connection. Access any one of these and all the others become available—we may access our sovereignty.

Sovereignty is defined as supreme power or authority and a self-governing state.

Do we not have that kind of authority over ourselves?

In the poem “Invictus,” William Ernest Henley claims that “I am the captain of my soul.” Regardless of “the fell clutch of circumstance” or “under the bludgeonings of chance,” we can choose how we respond to life’s situations. If I am the captain of my soul, I will make my way through this challenge in full ownership of my responsibility and impact. It is this self-governance and supreme power and authority that is Sovereign Leadership.

I have often been one to allow myself to be shaped by life’s situations—to feel a victim and powerless. These are the signs of default leadership. This showed through patterns of behaviour such as people-pleasing, micro-managing, and second-guessing.

When I am sovereign, when I consciously choose and I am purposeful about who I am being in this situation, the events themselves have less impact on me. I am creating from within and experience different outcomes as a result.

Recently, I was asked to lead a short teaching session at a men’s gathering. The request was made unexpectedly and only a few hours before we were due to start.

Instantly, I felt my body react with anxiety.

There will be experts at the gathering, and they will see I am a fraud. What if I get something wrong or someone challenges what I say?

My abdomen and shoulders tightened, my breathing became short and shallow, and my jaw clenched. I noticed my attention became erratic and unfocused.

I felt fear. 

The things I had planned to do that day fell away in a confused fog. I allowed myself to perpetuate that internal environment of fear and anxiety, even as I tried to bully myself into creating some last-minute content.

Needless to say, nothing came.

Fear and anxiety are not conducive to creativity. I was caught in the grip of what Daniel Goleman refers to as an “amygdala hijack.” In his book Emotional Intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ, Goleman explains that when we feel threatened, the limbic system (often called the reptilian brain) floods with activity and our only focus is to fight or flee for our lives.

This primitive part of our brain is literally a lifesaver, exciting the body for action by increasing our heart rate, dilating our arteries to flood our muscles with blood, raising our rate of breathing, narrowing our focus, and tensing our muscles. We are primed for optimal physical performance, but this usually gets in the way of everyday activities like business meetings and presentations.

Disappointed and frustrated, I contacted the organiser and said I was not able to deliver on his request. The panic and fear subsided slowly once I pressed “send.” And then, I began to think more clearly. I remembered that I am the captain of my soul, the sovereign leader in my life.

I took some moments to centre myself.

Bring attention to my bum on the seat and feet on the floor. Notice my slow, deep breathing and relax my core muscles, align my posture, and allow my focus to expand into the space all around me. 

In five minutes, I had more than enough teaching content for the gathering. I contacted the organiser again to say I was able to deliver.

This purposeful alignment and relaxation of the body connect us to our sovereignty.

Watch any athlete before they perform—the focused eyes, strong and tall posture, slow and deep breathing, limber and relaxed. This practised state of calming the mind, allowing that self-governance and authority to give rise to our supreme, personal, and inherent power. It is a natural and intuitive wisdom that takes over. It enables us to be powerful physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. This is Sovereign Leadership.

So, the next time you go into one of your default leadership patterns and feel powerless and lacking confidence, as a result, know that there is something you can do about it. Align the body, relax your core muscles, expand your attention, and slow down to give yourself the chance to access your inherent sovereignty.

When you feel your strength and confidence, that is the time to act in your Sovereign Leadership.

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