Tara-Nicholle Nelson puts the conscious in conscious leadership. She is the former vice president of marketing for MyFitnessPal, now part of Under Armour, and during her time there she grew the user base from 45 million to more than 100 million. She is also the author of “The Transformational Consumer: Fuel a Lifelong Love Affair With Your Customers by Helping Them Get Healthier, Wealthier, and Wiser,” creator of the 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders, and an Entrepreneur in Residence with Lightspeed Venture Partners.
As the founder and CEO of SoulTour, a personal growth and spiritual community, Nelson creates content and experiences that empower people to become more self-aware, transform their lives, and unearth a leadership goldmine.
“My mission in life is to help break the pervasive unworthiness and scarcity that people are operating under,” Nelson says. “But you can’t use your work to lift people up and engage them if you yourself are not uplifted and engaged.”
“You can’t use your work to lift people up and engage them if you yourself are not uplifted and engaged.”
Here, the self-professed “impact junkie” shares two daily practices to help tap into your inner guidance system and three leadership strategies for supporting and cultivating genius in others.
1. Daily Practice: Sit in silence
Tara-Nicholle Nelson: Get up in the morning and sit in silence for 15 or 20 minutes. Call it meditation if you want. Listen for that golden bolt of inspiration, whether it’s small or large: an idea, a phrase, an urge to do something or go somewhere. That’s often how intuition and inspiration from our inner guidance speak to us — just that little bolt.
2. Daily Practice: Freewrite
TNN: You may be familiar with the Morning Pages practice, which Julia Cameron originated in “The Artist’s Way.” There’s a lot of emotional windshield-wiping and slate-clearing that happens in the process of freewriting every day. You capture every grudge, everything you remember from yesterday that’s still lingering on your mind, and everything about the day ahead that makes it hard for you to be present. You turn off your inner editor entirely for this little piece of time, and it clears all this space where every idea, every piece of inspiration, every answer to every question, and every solution to every problem flows in.
When I was on the road promoting my book, “The Transformational Consumer” — which is about how to reach and engage customers by helping make them healthier, wealthier, and wiser — I reconnected with many C-level executives I had consulted with over the years. And they kept saying, “You shared your writing practice with me, and I’ve been doing it. I’ve written every day for two years now, and it changed my clarity. It changed the way I think. It changed the way I see.”
If you were only going to devote 20 or 30 minutes every morning to a practice that tunes you in to your inner guidance system, sit in silence for 10 or 15 minutes and write for 10 or 15 minutes.
3. Leadership Strategy: Manage your own emotions
TNN: It’s natural for you as an entrepreneur to have a great deal of both wanted and unwanted emotions in the course of your day. Anxiety is a big one. You think, “This could be wonderful or terrible — and I don’t know what to do. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and people are depending on me.” That anxiety is incredibly contagious — and also incredibly destructive. It shuts off your access to your highest brain centers, and it does the same thing to people who work for you and with you. Whatever kind of practice you come up with to manage your own emotions and reset and recalibrate on a daily basis — do it, and commit to it.
4. Leadership Strategy: Recruit on mission
TNN: Geniuses want to work on really important things, and they want to work with really conscious and self-aware leaders. For me, it’s important to have a whole team of geniuses surrounding me — vendors, contractors, employees, partners — and I have found that people get really excited about mission. If you recruit on mission, you’ll find people to work for you who would be difficult to recruit or convince otherwise.
5. Leadership Strategy: Stick to your approach
TNN: If you are trying to lead any kind of team, read “Boundaries for Leaders” by Dr. Henry Cloud. Many conscious leaders are people-pleasers. We’re uplifters, and we want people around us to feel good. But we must set, install, and maintain boundaries to unlock the best work from our team. One boundary you should set in business is to avoid constantly shifting your strategy, which is something startups often do. This boundary allows genius people to let their brains work on a problem for long enough to have bolts of inspiration— and for your team to find those golden threads.
(Featured image: Nancy Rothstein)