Challenges as Allies

The language and concepts here are pulled from Conscious Leadership. It’s a phenomenal framework and way to think about work & life. My company has a biweekly bookclub where we discuss the 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership.

Challenges and problems are an ineviatable part of life. Might as well start seeing them as your Allies in growth.


This exercise will be on seeing the world as an ally in your growth. We will practice framing the situations and people around you as allies, whether they know it or not. The key here is that people don’t have to commit to being your ally for you to see them as one. This framing is for you only, to help you master your energy flow and bring yourself above the line.

“If only this person would go away/this circumstance would disappear, then I would be happy”. Sound familiar? Most people start with reactive thoughts like this when presented with a challenge. Conscious leadership would encourage us to be more proactive in seeking learning and growth.

For example:

Sally works at an hedge fund. Her peers do not care about her well-being, they want her to lose so that they can win. Sallty can still see them as allies. She can choose to see them as here in her environment for the sake of her learning and growth. Seeing this will help Sally learn to not be overly attached to outcomes, to trust that life is good even in the midst of “opposition”, and to invite healthy fear at a catalyst to wake-up and pay attention, rather to remain naive.

Get down a way to write. Open up a doc, or write on paper.

Think about a person you may not like very much or someone you have some tension with. Could be a friend, a family member, a mean customer service rep, a coworker, a politician.

We will be answering this question, “If the universe were using this person or situation as a perfect ally to help you grow, what would you get to learn about yourself and about life?”

Sanity check

Before we begin, first you must answer “am I willing to see this person/situation as an ally for my learning?”. Willingness is key here, and if you are committed to seeing someone/something as your adversary, choose a different example, one where you are willing to shift.

Okay, now you can go

Once you find an example where you say “yes”, answer these questions

  • What is it that I could not have experienced without this person/circumstance?
  • What part of this am I most resistant to? Can I see that this is true about me? And am I willing to welcome/love that part of myself?
  • What is my biggest judgment about the way it is? Am I willing to see that the opposite of my judgment is as true or truer?
  • How is this person/situation helping me face something that I have been unwilling to acknowledge or face?
  • What quality could have been developed in me without this person/situation?
  • What is the universe using this person to the situation to give me feedback?
  • How is this in service to my growth?
  • What part of me is this bringing forward to welcome, honor, accept, or love?
  • In twenty years (or two), what will I say I learned from this person/situation?
  • In twenty years (or two), what about this will I be grateful for?

Conscious leaders look at life through the perspective of learning and growth. They wonder about how everyone and everything - especially challenges and potential obstacles- are actually allies in their development.