It’s no secret that the best leaders are a self-disciplined bunch.

As Richard Barrett points out in “The New Leadership Paradigm“, leading self or self-mastery is the first skill of all leaders. And the very best leaders make self-development and self-mastery a life-long learning project.

Patricia Aburdene, author of “MegaTrends 2010” agrees, stating:

“The cornerstone of effective leadership is self-mastery… And the surest route to self-mastery is spiritual practice. Time spent in peaceful reflection or mindful meditation clarifies thought, sharpens intuition and curbs unhealthy instincts. Spirituality, it turns out, is a lot more practical than most of us ever thought.”

I have two practices that I try to make time for everyday, and also recommend to all of my executive coaching clients.


The first is daily meditation, the second is a daily check-in with what I affectionately refer to as my inner wisdom advisory council.

Meditation is a wonderful stress reliever for the busy executive. It can also be very convenient, since you can do it anytime you find yourself with 10 minutes or more of down-time. While I have great admiration for people who find the time for robust practices such as yoga or tai-chi, I prefer a decidedly westernized version of meditation. Research into the neuroscience of leadership has led to new technology that combines breakthoughs in positive psychology and brain entrainment that allows anyone to achieve the benefits of deep meditation in as little as 30 minutes a day. My i-phone holds a complete set of short programs from 10 to 40 minutes in length that consistently gets me into state of deep relaxation and focus. It is a great way to fit my self-mastery exercises in while flying on a plane, riding the subway or cab, or waiting for an appointment. If I don’t have sufficient wait-time on any given day, I listen either upon waking or right before going to sleep. Since 30 minutes of deep meditation in a theta or gamma wave brain state is equivalent to several hours sleep, I have more energy and stamina even on my busiest days.

The other thing I do everyday is check in with my inner wisdom advisory council.

Using a process I teach to all of my coaching clients, I have a dialog with my parts and trusted source. First invented by the great psychologist Carl Jung, active imagination dialog is the best and easiest way I have found to exercise my intuition and develop my inner wisdom. Harnessing the wisdom of our inner voices is crucial to developing the ease with uncertainty that is a hallmark of the great leaders. This is especially true of entrepreneurs who work very hard at developing their gut instincts to help with decision making. Developing intuition easier than you might think. Again, Richard Barrett has a useful model that outlines how the most evolved leaders make decisions from values, intuition and inspiration. If you want to read more about this powerful and simple practice, check out the book “True Purpose” by Tim Kelley.

Whatever daily practices you choose, choose them wisely. It just might be the difference that takes you from a being a good leader to a great leader!