How many inputs are you ignoring as you read this blog post?

  • Are you clenching your jaw?
  • Are you toes cold?
  • Are you happy? Or maybe anxious about an upcoming meeting?
  • Are you skeptical of people who blog about fundraising and leadership?
  • Is your text thread blowing up?

At any given moment, you are receiving an incredible amount of information from your environment, from your experiences, from your mind, and from your body.

But because we are human juggling all of these inputs, we tend to gloss over the vast expanse of our awareness.

That means, we’re only seeing a small fraction of our reality at any given time. We’re looking at our life — and taking actions — from a pinhole lens.

As leaders, we must expand that awareness.

My friends at Presence Based Coaching site five interdependent awareness channels leaders must tap into — to expand our view beyond the pinhole: Perceptions, internal sensations, language and cognition, emotions and relational awareness.

  • I’ll start with the channel most of us tend to overuse: Language & cognition. This is the channel of what we “know.” This is the channel of language we use to describe our situation, our challenges, our goals. This is the channel of narratives we tell ourselves. Most people are VERY comfortable in this channel and spend most of their time here. But this is only ONE point of information.
  • Next up is the Perception channel. This is what is going on around us. The phone is ringing. There is light coming in from the window. The office is cluttered. The email inbox is filling up. The weather is sunny. The coffee tastes burnt. This channel helps us tap into the external environment that is influencing our state of being at any given moment.
  • Next up are our Internal Sensations. This is what is going on inside us. Is your breathing deep or shallow? Are your shoulders tight? Is your heart rate elevated? Do you feel your feet on the floor? This channel helps us tap into our internal environment. These internal experiences are providing us with HUGE amounts of data about how our bodies are actually showing up in the moment.
  • Next up is our Emotional State. Many humans spend an extraordinary amount of energy suppressing our connection with our emotions. But emotions give us important information. Are you disappointed? Are you sad? Are you joyful? Are you frustrated? Are you afraid? Are you proud? As leaders, our emotional states affect our decisions and everyone around us. We must be able to tap into our feelings to understand the breadth and depth of our state of being in the moment.
  • And finally, we’ve got our Relational Awareness. This is how we are relating to others. Do you feel connected to your employees? Do you feel mistrustful of your board? Do you feel like you belong on your team? Do you feel trust in your boss? Honing in on how we are in relationship to others at any given moment is another important channel of data.

Wow — there’s a lot going on, right? How are you supposed to pay attention to every channel at all times?

You can’t. But you can practice.

It begins with centering yourself. Today, schedule three alarms. When the alarm goes off. Take three deep breaths and ask yourself:

  • What’s going on around me?
  • What is my body telling me at this moment?
  • How am I feeling? Really, how am I feeling?
  • How am I engaging with others around me?

Start this practice today. And if you like it, do it every day.

You’ll find that you’ll strengthen your awareness mapping muscle and tap into the channels more frequently and more regularly. And that pinhole will become a skylight. And that skylight will become open sky.