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6 Steps for Leaders to Stay Open-Hearted Under High Pressure

Heart wide open!” I instantly replied when my friend Ann asked me how I was doing after the festival. Then I quickly added…”mostly.” Everyday life was intruding on my bliss.

I was just back from a three-day festival filled with workshops and music and people that made it easy for me to open my heart. You probably have people and events in your life that powerfully uplift you, which naturally impacts how you show up and lead at work.

We all know that being a heart-centered leader is a positive and desirable trait; it’s what I call Amare Leadership. The challenge is to sustain your open-hearted state when business and personal demands start stacking up.

Here are three powerful “look in the mirror” questions and six simple and practical tips to help you.

  • What opens your heart?
  • What helps you stay open-hearted in challenging situations?
  • What consistently brings you out of that state?

6 steps to keep leading with your heart open

  1. First, commit to getting uplifted. List 10 things that always elevate you and bring you joy. Include some that take just a moment or two, some that involve hours or days, some you can do on your own, and some that involve others. Now add them to your calendar and sign up!
  2. Know the feeling. Pay attention to when you feel uplifted and connected (my definition of love) and when it goes away. Notice your bodily sensations. Notice changes in your breathing. Notice how your calmness co-exists with your enthusiasm. This is not woo-woo bullshit, it’s basic neuroscience.
  3. Establish a quick return. Come up with an image or mantra for yourself that reliably brings you back into your heart. Keep it front and center. Use that image or mantra whenever you anticipate or experience something or someone that brings you down.
  4. Get more tense. When you notice yourself tensing up, exaggerate it. Tighten everything, then let it all go, three times. Then smile and return to the situation.
  5. Rehearse to build success. List 10 situations that are very likely to bring your energy down. Now imagine yourself in each of them and losing your good feelings. Practice with two techniques above to come back to that peaceful, elevated state.
  6. Develop your inner leadership practice. Learn to still your mind so your equanimity is not swept away by circumstances. Start by meditating for just one minute a day, saying “I’m breathing in” and “I’m breathing out” for eight breaths. Each week, add another minute.

To be a truly outstanding leader, nothing is more important than maintaining your peace and happiness — no matter what the circumstance is, no matter how much you may be suffering. Continue these practices for… the rest of your life. This is your path to true success.



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