Winter Newsletter 2024
Don't just do something, sit there!
We start the year with a consideration of how the art of slowing down can help the qualities of Conscious Leadership. Used judiciously, it allows us to see more clearly how we can fully inhabit the present moment and act to create a culture of mutual accountability, solidarity and belonging.
We also consider how slowing down can lead to greater productivity; foster the ability to respond rather than react; help us choose the right priorities; and develop empathy, which is essential in diverse and inclusive workplaces.
As people aspiring to conscious, just, inclusive leadership we cannot, and will not, remain silent about the ongoing atrocity of the Gaza war.
The mounting death toll (over 28,000 – including over 1,100 Israelis and over 27,000 Palestinians), the 60,000 plus injured and several thousand missing under rubble; the estimated 17,000 children in Gaza who are unaccompanied or separated from their families, the displacement of over two million people (an estimated 1,900,000 Palestinians and 220,000 Israelis); and the looming catastrophe of disease and starvation in Gaza – all these are unacceptable, and entirely avoidable, realities, which both our Government and HM Opposition have failed to act to change, against the wishes of the British people.
There is suffering all round, which exists in the context of long-standing inequality, rooted in illegal Occupation and the denial of fundamental human rights. In this context, we re-state our wholehearted support for an immediate and permanent ceasefire; the full exchange of hostages and prisoners wrongly held; immediate and fulsome aid to the injured, displaced, bereaved, sick and starving, that enables them to remain in their own country and rebuild their lives; and serious, internationally-brokered negotiations to achieve a just and lasting peace on the basis of equality of rights and dignity of all the peoples of Palestine and Israel.
The following is an excerpt from our latest BlogJam
Conscious Leadership: The art of slowing down
“What does it look and feel like to shift from being careful to taking care?”
This is a core question for anyone developing their conscious leadership practice, and holds particular importance in equity, diversity and inclusion work. As a white woman, being careful can take me into an ego-centric, individualised space where I am centring my need for comfort, rather than the needs of Black colleagues who are experiencing in the moment and ongoing racial discrimination and exclusion. In this state of carefulness, my breath quickens, my heart races and my mind becomes buzzy and bee-like, unable to think or respond clearly; my body has signalled a red alert and I am rapidly entering a ‘locked and loaded’ mode.
From a neuroscience perspective my amygdala (a part of the limbic system which regulates emotional and behavioural responses) has been activated and has sent an urgent message to my sympathetic nervous system. This is sometimes referred to as an Amygdala hijack where my fight, flight, freeze response has been triggered and is responding to psychological stress as if I am in physical danger.
Read the full article and gain other insights on the BlogJam….
The ea consultancy is devoted to helping you to fully explore how when we slow down enough to listen with our whole selves it opens us to the possibilities as Conscious Leaders.
Further reading - Slow down...
The paradox of pace
Instead of constantly operating at high speed, slow and steady can lead to greater productivity. In a world where speed often equates with success, slowing down may be counter intuitive.
The notion that taking things more slowly can enhance productivity seems a bit far-fetched; but by redefining our relationship with time and understanding the value of a measured pace, we may realize that slowing down can lead to more meaningful use of time. Explore the paradox of pace! Read more
The urgency of slowing down
We need to act, but addressing a crucial moment can’t come at the expense of strategy and intention: we need to slow down enough to breathe and really notice what is here.
When we act in a panic, we work less mindfully. We miss steps. We react as opposed to respond. We need to learn to slow down, while acknowledging the urgency of this moment. Read how activism will benefit if we organise, breathe, repeat…
In praise of Slow Inclusion
Slow can be faster in the long run. Slow thinkers often dig beneath the surface, and take more perspectives into consideration before coming to conclusions. Slow means choosing the right priorities – slow inclusion focuses on relationships.
True inclusion feeds the deeper things of life – core identity, connection, relationships, joy, belonging and lifelong friendship. This paper from 2005 published by www.ndt.org.uk in an Emerging Themes series.
Empathy: The Key to a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
Leaders that are more empathetic may be more effective at fostering diverse and inclusive workplaces. Slowing down to smell the roses can be one way to connect with others.
There are a few different tactics that can be employed by leaders who wish to develop their empathy – listen, slow down, be curious and volunteer. This Forbes.com article discusses these tactics.
'Slow Down to Speed Up'
You may feel an impulse to work as fast as possible. This may sound like an ideal way to ensure maximum productivity, however it can have major negative repercussions in the real world.
When you ‘slow down to speed up’, you are more able to steady yourself and gain a greater degree of mastery and focus over your work as a whole. Read more
An ode to slowness
Hustle culture uses speed as a measure of performance although this mindset can result in burnout, poor decision-making, and bad communication.
It may seem counterintuitive, but slowing down can be a faster way to achieve your goals. Fighting our urge to live and work faster can lead to clearer thinking, deeper connections, and better mental health. Read more in this piece from Nesslabs.
How to Make Better Decisions: Slow Down
Being a good decision maker doesn’t mean choosing quickly; it means forcing yourself to slow down and fully consider your options and avoid the temptation to decide too quickly.
In the book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work the authors discuss how to eliminate biases and improve the quality of our decisions. Inc.com discuss this further, read more.
7 Strategies to Slow Down ...
If we’re constantly “optimizing” for speed, are we propelling ourselves toward a culture without empathy? What effect does hurry and stress have on us, and what would the world look like if we weren’t always rushing to get somewhere? There is a connection between slowing down, reducing stress, and being more connected, empathetic, and at ease.
This thoughtful piece published in Healthline.com looks at different strategies to help us to slow down.
5 Surprising Benefits of Slowing Down
This blog piece published by a lifestyle blogger looks at the benefits of taking time to tackle the important things.
She tells how having grown accustomed to a slower pace, she has more space and energy to deal with the big things and let the rest go. And how to accomplish what needs to get done, rather than getting hung up on a specific task or process.
Postscript: In praise of pace
Having sung the praises of ‘slow’, we must also acknowledge that there are often times in life when quick decisions, action and intervention are not just helpful, but necessary. Many workplaces and contexts require rapid response to fast-changing situations. Pace is not bad, slow is not good – in and of themselves. Pace is often to be praised: pace that is congruent, resonant and purposeful. ‘Slow’ is not a virtue in itself – the advice to slow down is not meant to apply to the way we take action in situations when speed is vital – such as in the resuscitation room of an accident and emergency ward! Pace is required here. But so is the ability to take in and prioritise a huge amount of information, and put it to work on something that could make the difference between life and death.
To us, slowing down is a discipline that many (including us!) find deeply uncomfortable, because it does not allow us to hide from what we are really feeling, sensing, thinking and experiencing – it makes us confront the present moment more acutely, and not ‘paper over the cracks’ in service of ‘busyness’. It brings more attention to what is here, and what isn’t, and gives us a chance to live in the present, rather than always in the past or future.
What we are positing is that someone who has submitted to the discipline of habitually going against the cultural grain by slowing down their mind, speech and action at times when speedy action is not a matter of life and death (which is most of the time for most of us) is far more likely to take calm, evidenced and sound decisive action when they need to act quickly. Having primed their nervous system to remain regulated as a default (rather than being in a chronic state of hypervigilance), their perception is less clouded by reactive impulses. What are we really saying? Responsiveness is more helpful than reactivity. Clear action is more helpful than general activity. And as the old saying says ‘less haste more speed’.