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Marcus, the chief executive officer of a mid-size consumer software company, was talking with Anna, the chief executive officer of a small startup still in stealth mode. A chance encounter at their mutual favorite taco truck had become weekly conversations.

“So, I’ve been making my way through the recorded talks from all these speakers we’ve been bringing in,” Marcus said. “I was pretty skeptical at first. What difference could a few talks about squishy people stuff possibly make? Now, though, I’m starting to get it. The one I just finished, about our Council of Counsel, really resonated with me.”

“How is a panel of lawyers squishy people stuff?”

“Wha-ha…oh. You can’t tell what I mean from context. That’s Council, ‘c I l,’ of Counsel, ‘s e l.’”

Anna paused, then shook her head. “I’m still confused. Tell me more.”

You carry within you a panel of guides

“Pretty much my whole career,” Marcus said, “I’ve been told to be objective. Take the logical approach. Leave my emotions at the door.”

Anna nodded. “I imagine that’s worked about as well for you as it has for me.”

“If you mean that my emotions burst out at awkward times in awkward ways, then yes. This one time…no, I won’t go down that rabbit hole. We can swap stories later.”

“I’ll hold you to that. You have the best stories. So, back to this council thing.”

“Back to our Council. This speaker pointed out that not only do we have a mind, but we also have a heart, a body, and a spirit. These are our connections to who we are, to what feels right, to our present experience, and to our dreams for our life, respectively.”

“Hmm, those aren’t the definitions I would have guessed. They make sense, though. So: these four connections to aspects of ourselves form a Council of Counsel because they help us navigate life?”

“Yes, exactly. Anytime we’re uncertain what to do, or want guidance about something, we can ask each member of our Council what they, well, counsel.”

Your Council is always ready to assist

“I talk to my body, sometimes. When I’m worn out at the end of a long day, or trying to get that one last rep in at the gym. And, I try to listen to it. Eat when it’s hungry, go easy when it’s tired. I’ve never had a conversation with it, though. And I’ve never tried to talk to my heart, spirit, or mind.”

“Me either. Until today. The speaker took us through seven simple steps for doing this. And, boy howdy did they work.”

“What was your experience like?”

“I’ve never done anything like this before. I wasn’t expecting much. So, you can imagine my astonishment when I closed my eyes, said ‘Hello?’ and in walked a janitor, an angry toddler, a clown, and a train.”

“Wait, what?” Anna giggled. “A train?”

“Like that’s the most ridiculous part of this picture?”

“I’m sorry,” Anna replied, her giggle threatening to escalate to a laugh. “Please go on.”

“So, these four characters walk in, strike a casual pose, and start radiating out at me. Like they’re communicating telepathically or something. Beaming information into my brain.”

“Do tell,” Anna said, heaving with barely silent laughter. “Who was whom?”

“The janitor was my body. Apparently, I need to take better care of it. The angry toddler was my heart. I’ve been throwing metaphorical tantrums about needing to make changes. It’s time for me to grow up. The clown was my spirit. I’m taking myself too seriously, it said. I need to get back in touch with the playfulness that drove my early success.”

“So, the train was your mind? You’ve been railroading yourself into a form that doesn’t fit?”

“Not myself. My team. I’ve been trying to make them work the way that works for me.”

“That’s pretty funny. Also, really cool.”

Gain confidence and clarity by engaging with your Council

“This is not what I expected to talk about today,” Anna said. “It’s maybe the most amazing thing I’ve heard. I could use a Council of Counsel right now. I’m going to try this tonight.”

“I’ll send you the steps. They really are simple. With a little practice, I bet I can even do them during a meeting.”

“That would give me so much confidence. And clarity.”

Marcus nodded his assent.

“Now, what’s this story you promised me about your emotions bursting out in an embarrassing way?”

“This one time…”

This is the last in a series explaining how to start leading uncommonly:

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