By: Randy Siegel
Do you remember the children’s game “Simon Says”? If so, you’ll remember that the instructions are simple: The leader asks the participants to take an action. If the leader says, “Simon says…” before the action, you should do it. If the leader doesn’t say “Simon says…,” you should not. If you do anyway, you’re out of the game. Let’s play a round.
Simon says: Stand up.
Simon says: Touch your head.
Touch your heart.
Simon says: Touch your gut.
Simon says: Stand in your power!
Most of us want to stand in our power, but we’re unsure what that really means, much less how to do it. Within each of us is the power to become the full expression of all we are; that’s what we were born to do. And when we become the full expression of all we are, we stand in our power.
Think of a time that you felt you were at your best. You were confident, competent, and convicted. In short, you were master of your universe. How did you feel? Pretty good, huh? So, how do you get more of that good feeling in your life?
To master your universe, you must become the master of three distinct centers of human intelligence: your head, heart, and gut. Each has its own focus and function, and each has a specific call to you so that you can live your best life.
At any given moment, you are fluctuating between the head, heart, and gut. Stop a minute and ask yourself where your focus is right now. Is it on your thoughts (your head)? Or are you focused on the people around you (your heart)? Maybe you are experiencing strong physical, emotional, or cognitive sensations. If so, you are focused on your gut.
You have an order of preference that is your preferred mode of operating in the world.
One of these–head, heart, or gut –dominates; you use it most of the time. It’s followed by a second, and then a third; the third is the least used function. Think of this order as “your stack.” It’s important to note that no one stack is better than another.
Become Full Expression – Add One
To become the full expression of all you are, or to stand in your power, requires two steps. The first is to identify your stack, and the second is to energize each of the three centers in your stack.
Step One: Identify Your Stack
We’ll begin by reviewing each center, and as we do I want you to be thinking of what your stack may be. Which of the three—head, heart, gut—leads, which follows, and which follows that?
We’ll begin from the top, the head, and work down to the heart and gut. We’ll explore what it’s like to lead from each center and what each center calls us to do.
Thoughts rule the head, and the head calls us to conscious choice. Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator? If so, when you lead from the head, you are probably a “thinker” according to Myers and Briggs. About two-thirds of males are thinkers on the Myers-Briggs indicator.
If you lead from the head, you are rational, analytical, logical, and maybe linear. Your forehead is often crinkled up in thought. Some may experience you as cool and detached. You stay calm and objective in situations where everyone else is upset.
The head calls you to live your life consciously and intentionally. Conscious choice requires you to tune into the constant conversation playing in your head. It’s been said we have as many as sixty thousand thoughts a day, and less than 4 percent of them are conscious ones. Unless you bring what is unconscious to consciousness, you’ll be like a puppet that is being guided by invisible strings. By bringing unconscious thought to consciousness, you’ll snip those strings; it’s then that you make conscious choices.
Let me give you an example; it’s one I often use when I teach presentation skills. Right before I conduct a workshop, I tune into the conversation in my head. Here’s what I may be thinking:
I hope they like me.
I hope I don’t make a fool out of myself.
I hope I have something valuable to say. This is a really sharp group.
You get the drift. My entire conversation is about me and my performance. It is as if I had a hand mirror to my face; all I can see is me. How am I going to connect with an audience if I am all I see?
Become Full Expression – Add Two
When I became conscious of these thoughts, I can make the decision to shift my orientation. Instead of focusing on me and my performance, I begin to focus on the audience and their needs. By doing so, the hand mirror comes down, and I can connect with the people to whom I am speaking.
Tune into your thoughts right now. What conversation is going through your head?
Most of us go through the day unaware of the conversations taking place in our minds. As a result, we react to situations instead of making conscious choices. By tuning into our thoughts, we are able to be more intentional about the way we communicate–instead of simply reacting.
We’ll now look at the next center, the heart. The focus of the heart center is emotion, and its call to us is connection. The heart is your emotional center. If you lead from the heart, you are probably a “feeler” on the Myers-Briggs indicator; roughly two-thirds of feelers are female.
If you lead from the heart, people experience you as warm, emotive, and empathetic. You are the natural “huggers” of the world. You greet the world with open hearts and extended arms. You take others’ feelings into account when making a decision; you prefer harmony over clarity and you avoid conflict. You can be accused of taking things too personally.
The heart calls you to be in connection with others. At the end of your life, it won’t be business success, money, power, or prestige that will have brought you happiness; it will be the relationships in your life.
Piero Ferrucci in his book The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life shares the beautiful Jewish story of a good king who is dying. Before his weeping subjects, he calls for an arrow and asks the weakest of them to break it. A frail man steps forward and does so with ease. The king then asks for the strongest of them to break a bundle of arrows bound together. Despite all the strongest man’s efforts, he cannot do it. The king says to his subjects, “As my inheritance, I bequeath to you the union among you all. Be united with one another. This oneness will give you great strength, which alone you would never be able to attain.”
In this age of individualism perhaps we are missing the gift of our inheritance: our unity. When we recognize we are all one and focus on relationships, we lead stronger, kinder, and more fulfilled lives.
The path to the heart center is through emotion, but for those of us who are thinkers, identifying and experiencing emotion can be difficult. I have found, however, that I can harness the power of my thoughts to tap into my heart center. Three strategies I use to assist me are reflection, repetition, and visualization.
Become Full Expression – Add Three
I reflect on the positive aspects or feelings of empathy that I might have for the person or persons. I repeat an internalized mantra or phrase such as “loving-kindness,” and I visualize a picture, such as seeing the other person or persons smiling back at me.
Frank Andrews in his book The Art and Practice of Loving suggests this lovely practice for tapping into your heart center. Look at a person and silently repeat to yourself:
You are with me.
You are like me.
You are me.
To summarize, the heart center is about connection, and it calls you to unity, to the realization that we are all one.
Which do you value more: your connectedness or your individualism? How much emphasis do you place on the relationships in your life? Do you put others first? If you can answer yes to all these questions, you probably lead from the heart center.
Now we’ll move on to the gut. The focus of the gut center is physical, emotional, and cognitive sensation; its goal is internal guidance. The gut is your instinctual center; it is like your internal GPS system.
Intuition is a lot like dreaming. We don’t know how we do it, but we do it. One of the world’s greatest thinkers, Albert Einstein, once said: “The intellect (head) has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you, and you don’t know how or why.”
If your gut leads, people may experience you as wise and insightful. You can often see things that others cannot. Intuitive information comes to you through your senses. You may get a gut feeling about things, or hear a little voice, see the light or fleeting image, or sense good or bad vibrations. In short, you make decisions out of a “felt sense” of what is best and right.
That felt sense varies by person but could include:
Physical Sensation: The Japanese call intuition “stomach art.” In the West, we call it a “gut feeling.” You may experience a bristling or flowing of energy, like a mild current of energy. (I get goose bumps.) Or your body may feel heavy or light.
Emotional Sensation: Many report an emotional feeling of being “on.”
Cognitive Sensation: Most say they have a sense of being very clear.
Become Full Expression – Add Four
If you’re really attuned to your intuition, you may experience all three. It’s important to note that rarely are you going to get it right each time. Even the most psychic of us gets it wrong now and then.
Looking at the three centers—head, heart, and gut—can you determine your stack?
Sometimes, it’s easier to see them in someone else than in yourself. Think of a historical leader. Can you determine his or her stack? Great leaders lead from all three, but one is still primary, one is secondary, and one is tertiary.
Let’s look at an easy one: Mother Teresa. What is her stack? Heart, gut, and head, right?
Knowing your stack is only the first step of becoming the full expression of all you are. In order to fully stand in your power, you have to energize each.
Step Two: Energizing the Three Centers
To live your best life requires that all three centers are active. Unfortunately, few of us heed this call.
My stack is head, gut, and heart, and like many of us I lived my life from my primary instinct. After all, smart people are rational; they are thinking people, I thought. “If you want to succeed in the world, you have to allow the mind to lead.”
Then a wise friend suggested an exercise: “Find a quiet place, sit down, and write down every thought that jumps in your head.,” I did, and I couldn’t believe the amount of rubbish that flitted through my mind. Some of it was downright crazy talk.
Today, I am less reliant on the head. I am mining the other two centers, heart and gut, and in these I am discovering gold.
In reclaiming my heart, I am rediscovering my emotional core. I am beginning to form deeper, closer, more intimate relationships. I am befriending—rather than battling—the limiting beliefs that I don’t belong or that people cannot be trusted. I am learning that we are all one.
My gut has encouraged me to follow my heartbeat. In the process, I have identified my strengths and how I can put them to use to be of real service. I have identified my core values and developed a personal mission statement, and I am living those values and that statement every day. Each of these glimpses of light is enlightening my life.
I have found that I can’t calibrate head, heart, and gut and just step back. Life requires that I constantly stay attuned to the three centers. Sure, I still slip, and when I do, life reminds me. Sometimes with a jolt.
Become Full Expression – Add Five
A while back, I was giving a workshop in San Diego. While there, I decided to take a walk. Instead of enjoying the beautiful spring day around me, I became lost in my thoughts to the point that I was totally oblivious of my surroundings. Wham! Something slammed into my side.
A street person had slung his elbow into my side while passing me from the opposite direction. Over his shoulder he yelled back to me, “Watch where you’re going, buddy!” Suddenly, I was awake. Heart, gut, and head became fully operational. When you commit to energizing all three centers, life will support you.
In summary, if you don’t remember anything else, I hope you’ll remember this:
- You have three centers, head, heart, and gut, and you have you own unique stack.
- Your power can be found in embracing and energizing all three,and by following their call.
- And life will assist you if you allow it.
My hope for you is that you’ll commit to determining your stack, become more conscious of all three, and open yourself to the magic that is all around you and waiting to support you. When you do, you’ll begin to become the full expression of all you are and stand in your power.
Copyright 2009, All rights reserved
Randy Siegel gives high-potential employees the leadership and communications skills they need to be successful as they rise through the organization. Subscribe to his complimentary monthly eNewsletter at BuildYourInfluence.com and receive his free e-book How to Become a Corporate Rock Star: Six Steps to Top the Charts.