In the midst of a global pandemic, with the US now overtaking nearly every nation on the planet with the growing number of Covid-19 cases, what are the opportunities that surface as we contemplate a new paradigm, a new global perspective and a chance to elevate our collective leadership? Now is not the time for small thinking, not the time to let fear cripple our individual and collective action, and certainly not the time for adhering to a rigid status-quo mental construct. Now, my brothers and sisters, is all we have!

Now simply requires tuning into the present, the here-and-now, the awareness of our connectedness and the collective struggles brought about by what can only be described as a catastrophic hidden enemy that infuses sickness to some, while engulfing the collective with uncertainty and incredible fear. But as is the case with all human endeavors, how we behave in this moment, and the next, and the next,  either from darkness or from light, will determine the reality we live in. And again, the reality we actually live in… is the NOW.

Desperate times require intelligent answers, the operable word being, ‘intelligent.’ Let’s envision a new world order, one that starts with transforming our leadership models to support and lift others up. The current reality we share demands a shift in bringing wholeness, purpose and a differentiated degree of intelligence, far more encompassing than standardized IQ scores and even beyond the principles of emotional intelligence (EQ). Edgar Cayce, known as the ‘sleeping prophet’ and ‘father of holistic medicine,’ postulated in his practices the concept of the triune self, that of body, mind and spirit. The missing link in our evolving leadership models is now being called upon for both examination and application. Now is the time to recognize and embrace the missing link, spirit, into our leadership models.

In the US, molded over the past two hundred plus years, leadership has been constructed to support so-called democratic ideals while embracing capitalism as the structural playing field upon which we operate. Given the current global pandemic, one could logically ask, “How’s it going?” Depending on who you ask, there would be a wide assortment of answers. For those of affluence, power and control, the answer might be, “Fantastic!” But for those of lesser means, particularly if caught in the grips of ‘shelter-in-place’ and/or “quarantining,” the answers would be far less optimistic. This inherent disparity between the haves and have-nots becomes magnified during these crisis moments, leaving one to feel isolated, disheartened and even depressed. There is, however, a different aspect to the current reality, one that does not know ethnicity, color of skin, amount in the bank, political, social, economic or religious views. For this Covid-19 virus is the great equalizer! To say that, “we are all in this together,” would be an understatement.

We, the people, are not immovable objects, despite the present circumstances. We have the power to embody a new vision, a new model of leadership that incorporates body, mind and spirit. We have advanced our leadership constructs over the past several decades to now understand and support the importance of developing a higher degree of EQ. There is ample evidence to validate how critically important it is to be self-aware in optimizing what and how we respond to the exigencies of daily living, both professionally and personally. Higher EQ also centers on our ability to have social awareness, exhibiting a greater understanding of others through empathy and identifying how both implicit and explicit bias shows up in our human interactions.

The next iteration of conscious and purposeful leadership calls us to the missing link of spirit. Spiritual intelligence (SQ), while not included in Gardner’s concept of ‘multiple intelligences,’ may be catalytic, in that having greater SQ coalesces and integrates aspects of intelligence that are fragmented in the human experience. And integration is key to realizing a new leadership perspective. Unifying, harmonizing and amplifying one’s full self speaks to this elevated state of intelligence.

Think about it! If your future were a blank canvas, what picture would you paint? How do you define success? Does consumerism feed your identity? What parts of you do you hide from others, lest you fear alienation if you showed the world who you really are? What part of normalcy and status-quo are you willing to change? And as a leader, how will you step into what is to come?

These questions and more impel us to self-reflection. As a professional coach supporting leadership, the inclusion of spiritual intelligence into my practice has not only become necessary, but is essential in addressing the ever-expanding challenges faced by today’s leaders. When coaching, I would be remiss if I did not take into account the whole person, not just the professional leader sitting in front of me, rather the unique and gifted human being that I am honored to support. And during this current climate of fear and insecurity, attuning to the whole person becomes imperative. Deciphering the spiritual intelligence code within each of us is paramount to creating a new world order, one of consciousness, compassion and greater understanding.

Here are four steps to sparking the spiritual intelligence from within.

1. Self-Actualization: Start with SELF

Abraham Maslow, humanistic psychologist best known for his hierarchy of needs theory, coined the term self-actualization to be the culmination of achieving one’s specific human needs. His approach to psychology stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to viewing them as being broken or simply a bag of symptoms. Before we can shape a new leadership paradigm, we must become that which we desire from others. Take the time to self-reflect on the positive qualities each of us possesses, those essence attributes that fuel our passion, ignite our curiosity and imbue our deepest aspirations. Be the model for evolving a new leadership, one that brings spirit into the mix!

2. Step into Presence: All there is…is NOW

When you are aware of ‘being aware,’ you step into consciousness. Being present means setting aside fear, anxiety, resentment, sadness, victimhood and struggle, to separate from the time/space continuum in order to simply BE. In the presence of being, one can operate from a point of genuine authenticity. This purposeful flow elevates the frequency of the interaction, eliciting an energetic impulse that attracts others, pulling them into your current and allowing them to drop pretense and falsehood while encouraging the very best part of their soulful expression. Take a chance on being more than your rote auto-pilot self.

3. Set a Daily Practice: Seek Peace from WITHIN

Never in my life has there been a more crucial time than now for calming and quelling the fires within. Intrapersonal integration, as a key component to SQ, demands a purposeful orientation of our varied intelligences. Gardner theory of multiple intelligences postulates that there are eight intelligences that comprise our humanness, with the possible addition of what he refers to as, ‘existentialist intelligence.’ SQ integrates intelligences to be able to envision an intentional world, one in which we operate fully engaged, fearless and with confidence. Bringing spirit into your leadership simply means being honest with yourself, being clear as to your values and aligning to the love and compassion that is held deeply within. Seek a daily intention. Find a meditation practice that works for you. Remember to breathe. Let it out, let it be!

4. Practice Kindness: Yes, DO IT

During this crisis, I have had the limited opportunity to interact with various retailers, colleagues, friends and strangers. Each time I do so, I give the person my full attention and thank them for working. With my full focus, I express appreciation for their being at work and putting themselves in the greater community, a community that is fearful about touching an infected surface, being in the general area of a possible Covid-19 positive person and/or accidentally becoming the next virus-infected human being, a statistical commodity that seems to have become a commonplace occurrence. The truth is that we interact with others with frequency. Imagine for a moment 7+ billion inhabitants of planet Earth shifting from a world of strangers to a world of friends. Imagine for a moment, what John Lennon so beautifully wrote so many years ago, “Imagine all the people. Livin’ life in peace.”

We are more than what we possess. We are more than our titles. We are more than a cog in the wheel of humanity. Bring spirit into your leadership practices. Start by taking yourself on, quieting the fires that burn within and seeking to ignite compassion, caring and love. We do this one interaction at a time, one act of kindness followed by another. Start today by loving yourself and letting that love illuminate those around you. Set fear and anxiety aside, opening a portal to stepping into your highest and greatest self. Don’t be dissuaded by these dark times. You have choice in how you respond to uncertainty, fear and change. Be the spirited soul you are meant to be.

Now is the time! You are the answer!