Centeredness: Being relaxed, alert, aware and related while unimpeded by reactivity

Centeredness is our third Leadership Competency.

Centeredness is a macro competency which amplifies/enables the other three competencies of character, calling, and coordination.  In this context centeredness could be termed centered awareness in that it’s a state where the mind, emotions and body are calm, relaxed, and alert.  Centeredness is a state of engagement rather than one of dissociation. From the state of centeredness we are highly aware of ourselves, of others, and of the greater environment/context.  Centeredness may also be highly active as we see in World Cup soccer or martial arts. A lot may be happening very quickly physically but the participants are alert and engaged while mentally and emotionally calm.

We can even be emotionally triggered and centered at the same time.  This is when our state of centeredness is bigger than the triggered emotions; despite the trigger we are still able to choose our response.

Why it is important:

Centeredness enables us to be fully connected to the task at hand and to each other.  It is necessary for us to do things right the first time and to enable us to cooperate deeply.  Centeredness is contagious; it helps everyone else more present aware and effective.  Centeredness is the gateway to insight, creativity, and flow.

What happens with centeredness is missing:

When there is a lack of centeredness people are overly busy; there’s lots of activity but little forward motion. People’s heads are filled with worries and unhelpful thoughts. People do not listen to each other rather they are think of their next response. People interrupt each other. There is little room for real cooperation because people are operating from within their own separate bubbles.

With a lack of centeredness in meetings people are texting, emailing, and multitasking.  They are only paying half attention to each other.  Everyone feels like they have too much to do so they are rushing and hurrying around.  But they are not fully present so in reality they get less done and are less effective.

The hidden ineffectiveness in plain sight is not how busy people are but how much busyness is spent redoing and reworking what was not done properly in the first place.  Too much busyness is caught up in firefighting where we’re working on the urgent task rather than the important less urgent activities. The way to avoid the tyranny of the urgent is to see the whole picture from a place of center and put everything in its rightful place at its rightful time. And since most activities are connected to activities of others efficiency requires joint coordination and cooperation which is built from centeredness.

Fostering centeredness through practice:

Centeredness actually requires an ongoing practice to detox your mental and emotional system of nervous thoughts and emotions. Meditation and mindfulness are places to start.  However, centeredness can and should be practiced regularly throughout the day.

  1. Before each meeting or change of activity you can stop, set a clear intention, and allow your thoughts and emotions to settle.
  2. Clarify your intention for outcomes, process, and your own behavior.
  3. The practice of centeredness is to be fully engaged with an inner quietness and awareness of self and others, the space between and the broader context.
    • Holding all of this in an overall awareness you listen and act with focused attention on what is most alive in each moment.
    • This may be who is speaking, what is happening inside you, or even the unspoken atmosphere.
    • It includes paying attention to feelings, content, and what is being left unsaid.
  4. After each meeting or activity you can evaluate yourself on how you did.Were you able to hold a state of centered awareness?  Where did you fall short?  What might you try differently next time?

Posted by David Sherman

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