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Finding the sweet spot: Can parents be conscious leaders?

Professional parents face the classic dilemma of choosing either an inspiring career or the nobility of bringing up the children. What if there was a third option? A sweet spot where each parent gets to both fulfil a higher calling at work and savour the joys of parenting. 


We often make lose-lose situations where one parent takes on the noble role of full-time carer of the children in exchange for a once-fulfilling career, while the other parent with the better economic prospects takes on a well-paying  job at the expense of pursuing his/her true passion.

What if we garner courage to stand up for what is meaningful for us where each parent collaborates to support one another grow intentional fulfilling lives together? What if in role modelling this as conscious leaders, we ultimately transform the future of our children that they may in turn live more purposefully, love more powerfully, and leave more progressively what they stand for as a legacy long after they are gone? Conscious leaders essentially care about people and the purpose in their lives, ahead of their ego and personal enrichment. An intentional and conscious parent elevates humanity through power with instead of power over others – starting with one another.

How can we be an intentional parent and a conscious leader? This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Every intentional parent has a higher purpose or calling in their own life. Our hero’s journey where crisis hits time and again directs to us to grow in ways that put us in line with our purpose. Have you ever considered that parenting may be one of these milestones in our personal evolution to transform into who we truly need to become in our lives? Based on the final chapter in my book Intentional Parenting, I contemplated this metaphor in an article for a professional magazine Are You a Heroshutterstock_627516815

Think of your greatest challenge currently as a parent, and take ownership on how YOU can choose to let some old ways of yours fall away, and engage your unrealised potential to develop new gifts and capabilities to transform your world.

Let us now consider the 7Rs of Parenting so we can work out how to anticipate the change(s) we need on our Hero’s Journey 2.0. (A suggestion: Read through all these 7Rs today. Then spend some quiet moments daily with each one of these 7Rs over 7 days, and journal your thoughts.)

  1. Role modelling – Begin with what sort of a ‘hero’ you wish to be remembered for? What values would you as this hero represent? When you are long gone, what songs wil be sung about what you stand for? Why is this important? What is an inspiring Life Vision that will energise you to be at your best when you bring it to mind?
  2. Respect – What do you love to do? What do you want to change in the world? How will you show love and respect of your self by defining what is meaningful to you and what excites you in your aspirations? What will you not compromise on? How will you behave to respect you, and then your family, and your community? What is your first step right now to leading a great life? How will you respect your co-parent by discussing it with them? How will you support your co-parent in theirs?
  3. Rules – What are the mindsets and beliefs that currently support you in leading a meaningful life? Are there some old limiting rules that you need to now re-negotiate with yourself, and your family? What new charter or boundaries congruent with living an intentional life will empower your commitments?
  4. Routines – They are not there to hem you in. Instead they help you get efficient so you are free to be spontaneous and creative. They help you live purposefully with more ease and grace. So what routines do you now need to put in place? How about getting your family’s input in these? What is your compelling Life Plan that will inspire these routines?
  5. Review & reflect (R&R) – every leader needs to pause to get a breather on the balcony so they can see what is working, and what isn’t. Then they can re-think a new way to progress. Could it be new routines? Or can we re-tweak some rules that no longer apply? How am I respecting myself but not others? How can I work to achieve both at a higher level? Am I walking my talk (not only to others as role model, but also to me!)? If something is not working, it is time to review and reflect. Why wait until it is not working? Can we pre-empt challenges and come in early with continuous improvements? How can you involve your family in this?
  6. Reorganise – In our fast changing VUCA world, it is important that we prioritise. Make changes to the things that have highest impact with least energy. What are the things from your regular R&R stocktake that shows up requiring important attention? Take the first steps to rectify this. 
  7. Response-ability – consider the six R’s above, and notice how flexible you can be in focusing on each to be able to keep you on track towards living more purposefully, loving more powerfully, learning more progressively over your life, and leading you and your family more tenderly.

Take a deep breath – and celebrate your new direction. Your Hero’s Journey 2.0.

shutterstock_578490235In summary ….Why wait for a crisis to hit?  What if you could journey consciously by anticipating change as an evolutionary impulse to grow? What if the only way to get out of this evolutionary crisis is to go inside ourselves? What if this change is precisely what you need to engage that hidden genius that lies within you? What if this is the exact trigger to dissolve the old way(s) of doing things  to transform you to being who you really ought to become to resolve whatever is holding your back?

So if you are experiencing challenges in your life as a parent, perhaps you are being nudged to resolve these issues as a call to adventure in a new direction. What if parents lead, not rule ?

I am in process of starting an online interview series (not sure whether it is going to be a podcast, vblog or simply a blog) based on this conversation I have just had with you.

shutterstock_420845449These Intentional Parenting Dialogues, as I am hoping to call them, aim to inspire, illuminate and ignite ideas through shared conversations online, where professionals around the world explore the parenting possibilities of finding their sweet spot of conscious leadership: living more, loving more and leaving more for their children.

I would love your comments on how useful you think this may be for healthier families, and better wellness in organisations and communities.

Dr Yvonne Sum CSP is a published international author and speaker on leadership across home and work tribes by integrating their leadership lessons at home successfully back into work. As co-founder of 5Echo, a global leadership consultancy focusing on C-level executives, she facilitates senior executives through their 4G (Gender, Generational, Generosity, Global) challenges by disruptive thinking and hyper-drive coaching.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock


Posted in executive coaching, Intentional Parenting, leadership & management, Leadership Development, Parent Leadership, personal coaching, Transformational Leadership | Tagged | Leave a comment

What do I truly want?

Journey to recovery. image courtesy of shutterstock

Journey to recovery. image courtesy of shutterstock

I recently revived my Morning Pages to recover my creativity. It is Week 4, and I am experiencing emotional pangs. My friend Anne tells me that the moon seems to be in a certain alignment to cause our human tides (after all we are 80% water) to be pulled in this direction. Coincidence? Perhaps.

Julia Cameron speaks of how the recovering artist can often feel like being in terra incognita. Why? Because creativity isn’t about fantasy. In finding oneself more, the original unique truth of who you are starts to play out. Any false self begins to fall away.

“Art lies in the moment of encounter. We meet ourselves and we meet our self-expression. We become original because we become something specific: an origin from which the work flows.” – Julia Cameron

Awake I see more. I am clearer in observation. More sensitive in my energetic encounters.

I was recently asked to prepare a keynote for LeanIn Malaysia Career ProgramGraduation Awards. Exploring the historical perspective of What Women Want, I found the voice of many women of the ages come through me.



More open and real….  “The snowflake pattern of your soul is emerging” whispers Julia Cameron off the pages of her book The Artist’s Way …. as if it had been frozen for decades. In preparing for this keynote, I visit my Duty as a woman in this life, and the conflict with Love (of Who I am, What I wish to do, How I would like to spend my time).

I feel numbed by conditioned expectations through the ages, other people’s definitions of who we should be, and blurred by undersleep, overwork, underplay, Facebook, YouTube, toxic relationships  – all junk food for the soul! The more I am writing these Morning Pages, the more I am erasing these smears on my consciousness.

Love vs Duty

As I perused the achievements of women through history, it seems that most stay the norm of anonymity. Yet there are always outliers. Duty usually calls for us to be what is expected in society. However, there are many that desire their passions fulfilled beyond duty. They pursue what they love.

There is a tale often retold about Sir Gawain and The Loathly Lady. In this legend, King Arthur had to find the answer to “What Women Want”. Is that not the most mysterious and difficult of questions?!  …. When the answer is revealed that what women most desire is: their will – the sovereignty to decide and choose their way – the spell that binds the Loathly Hag in her misery is broken. So how are you going to release your being bewitched into what may seem your duty? What do you truly love to be? Are you willing to pursue it?

There is no doubt the pursuit of what one loves has its costs.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” – Henry David Thoreau

Still – I now have a choice. Either: Love of what I desire. Or: Duty to be what is expected of me. It is up to me. If the will is there, then no obstacle appears a barrier. Ah … What will I be? What will I do?

What if – Love is our Duty?

As I consider the smorgasbord of feelings and experiences I can opt for  – as I pursue what I love…. I have the sense that I am no longer like a thoroughbred chomping on my bit, tethered to a pole, anxious to be in a race to be won. Still in a yard close to the stables where I feel safe, I am more relaxed. Awaiting nothing yet expecting everything.

When the right call comes for my soul, I know I am attuned to it. I am listening with all my senses. I will hear it. I will answer to what ‘feels right’. (I can always post-rationalise it!!)

This week, I will allow ‘buried dreams’ to surface. I will tune in to the sirens of their melodies. Be resonant with those souls that are meant to co-create what we are purposed for. I can already sense it all coming together.

Opening up my mind, I am training my antennae to the pulse of these wavelengths. Opening my heart, I am receiving the integral rhythm of these energies that are leading to the greater good of humanity. Opening my will, I am tapping to awaken the inner Force that fuels the truth that I am.

Flowers blossoming. image courtesy of shutterstock

Flowers blossoming. image courtesy of shutterstock

I am feeling my life is like a flower. The bud is on the vine, and not completely open. Yet the promise of the beauty and brilliance of colour and fragrance is already there to be shared. Those that recognise it awaits. Those that are yet to notice it is on the fringes.  For some will arrive when the flower is blossoming. Others when it is in full bloom. There will be those that will remain until the blossom withers, until it is a memory of its former glory. Not because of what the flower was, but for the gift that we shared when the flower bloomed for us. The gift remains, and gets passed down not only as a vision of when it held our attention, held court so it seemed. But it will forever be etched into our hearts for those who wish to meaningfully remember … and tap into our dreams.

The Call to Adventure heralds.  I am ready to cross the threshold once again on the start of another Hero’s Journey. To savour and learn from what is it that I truly love to be.

Posted in Transformational Leadership | Leave a comment