Practising ethics radically changed how I relate to myself, others and all life

Around 2003 – 2004 I became increasingly aware of the fact that I had lived – probably from a young age – with a strong undercurrent of anxiety and harsh self-judgement. It undermined my confidence about myself and the choices I made for my life.

The suffering I was experiencing urged me to look at my mind and heart. I started to meditate in earnest. As a result, I became more interested in Buddhist teachings and found them to be most profound. I began to see myself more clearly and how I related to myself, to others and my wider life.

At the core of Buddhist practice are ethics. The thing that most attracted me to Buddhism were the three levels of wisdom:
1. Listen to the teachings of the Buddha.
2. Understand them intellectually.
3. Experience them for yourself
…with the 3rd being the most important one.

The last time I had heard about ethics was in school. But beginning to actually practise ethics was different.

But what are ethics exactly?

I learned that ethics is not about being good or bad which leads to unhealthy shame, i.e. ‘I’m a bad person’. Ethics are all about my values and my inner capacities (skills and qualities) that drive my thoughts, attitudes, emotions, what I say, how I say it and what I do.

I learned that all my actions (thinking, speaking, behaving) have an impact on others and the world because we are interconnected. This was a huge insight. I learned how to come into a more open-hearted connection with myself and others instead of feeling separate and anxious.

The practice of ethics, living in alignment with my values of kindness, generosity, honesty, mindfulness and clarity have transformed how I experience myself, and how I relate to others and my wider life.

The practice of ethics is at the heart of wellbeing – our own, others, our organisation’s and that of our planet – as Aristotle already stated.

I learned that there are five essential capacities for practicing ethics:

  1. Awareness: What have I noticed in myself and others today?
  2. Attitude:What has my attitude been today?
  3. Relationality: How have I related and connected to others (or not)?
  4. Inner values: What matters most deeply to me?
  5. Learning: What have I learned today?

Practising ethics had such a profound impact on me, so I wanted to share this, and most importantly with those who have influence over others: change makers and leaders. It led me to develop an Ethical Leadership Programme that focuses on practice, not theory.

Ethical Leadership Programme 

Are you interested in bringing ethics into your life, your leadership, your organisation?  My next 6-Week Ethical Leadership Programme starts on 17 April – 22 May 2024 at 6.30 – 9pm UK time and is held online via Zoom. The programme is for engaged leaders who want to lead differently

https://thefield.aleftrust.org/my-profile/karen-liebenguth
Contributor
No Comments
Comments to: My Journey Towards Five Inner Capacities for Ethical Leadership
The Alef Field