Episode 5: On Brilliance & Contagious Leadership by Colin Bedell — Sustainably Human at Work Podcast (2023)

Liz Wiltsie: Welcome to What's Leadership? I'm Liz Wiltsie. The more I learn about leadership, the more I'm convinced there's not a one size fits all solution. So I am on my own learning journey and I invite you to join me. EbonyJanice reminds me that being open about my journey is important. Each episode features someone I admire with actionable insight to share. So please join me as I ask what's leadership?

I'm so excited to welcome my guest today. Colin Bedell. Colin is a queer, Gemini twin from Long Island, New York. He's a passionate student of secular growth systems and the universal spiritual themes explored in A Course in Miracles. Complimenting his work with Queer Cosmos.

Colin is the weekly horoscope writer for cosmopolitan.com. He's written more multiple bestselling books, including A Little Bit of Astrology and Queer Cosmos: The Astrology of Queer Identities and Relationships. And his third book, Gemini, debuts in January of 2020. And I'll tell you that I asked him here because he and I have a shared love of Brené Brown. So I'm super excited, to really dive into the ways that astrology informs leadership. So Colin welcome.

Colin Bedell: Thank you Lee. And thank you for having me. I know that spirituality and secular leadership, aren't always intersection that people get to talk about. So thank you so much for inviting me to talk with you about that.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah, I'm excited. So let's get straight to it. What is the number one challenge that leaders face?

Colin Bedell: Informed by Dr. Brené Brown's book Dare to Lead, I think it is just all the ways that we armor up ourselves against just criticism and critics and feedback. It's really, it comes down to that. I think it's the armor we wear. Not the fear it's armor. Because leaders are afraid all the time, but they don't have the armor on. And I think what gets us into a lot of trouble is when we believe that perfectionism and just not like disengagement or mean-spirited criticism like that actually works. It doesn't.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah. So what, on the flip side, what is your sort of tip for dealing with that?

Colin Bedell: Yeah, well, I think what I believe, and this is actually something that The Course of Miracles speaks about often is in your defenselessness your safety lies. And so what that means is that we want to proactively assume and perceive that every single person has something meaningful and creative and brilliant to contribute.

And so that's really the way I look at leadership as a person who holds space for the brilliance of others, it takes responsibility to cultivate that, assumes it proactively without evidence, and then gets out of the way so that people can do that.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah, I'm going to literally, I'm gonna play that back after we wrap this and I'm going to write it all down and it's going to be great because those four things were amazing.

Right. Four, right? So assume it in others, right? That's really brilliant. So do you have a kind of tangible way that you encourage folks to sort of lean in to those pieces?

Colin Bedell: Yes, I think it, it, it really does come down to not being tolerant of our own mind, wandering, you know, I think we need to really understand that concentration, mindfulness, focus, and the discipline of intellectual follows through is the way to start here.

And that leadership is a skill that is absolutely teachable and contagious and just transferable. And so my skill that, you know, or the, the real encouragement that I have for others is to just develop the capacity, to learn how to focus and to show up to the party. Yeah. With mindfulness, I have a 10 minute meditation routine that I have every day, and I'm also just real cognizant of when I've gone off the intellectual rails.

So yeah.

Liz Wiltsie: Do you have anything in particular when you've gone off the rails that helps you get back on?

Colin Bedell: Ooh. Yeah, I would. I just can immediately spot it is where I'm at in my meditation practice is I know when, like I have intellectually vacated the premises. So it's just a matter of returning and just, just announcing, okay. I have to pay attention to how I'm showing up and I'm leaning into this conversation, experience. Yeah.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah. I think one of the things that has come to me in this work is that so many folks can't spot it in themselves when they have gone off the rails or when they're starting to go off the rails, like to catch it and be like, Oh, wait. And then things go way sideways, real fast.

Colin Bedell: Yes. Well, actually there's a tip for that because there's a lot of things I could take us off the rails. It could be shame, distraction, a lot of different things. And one of the tips that Brené Brown gave in her book, men, women, and worthiness is she asks people to tap their neocortex, which is the part of the brain in between the eyebrows.

To get people back to showing up because the neocortex is the part of the brain that makes critical executive decisions. And when we are in shame or like disengagement or numbing, it goes all offline. So you could just, it's a little weird and awkward, but just tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap the part of the brain so that you can show up to the party.

Liz Wiltsie: Wow, that I'm going to like practice that. Cause I, I know those things, right. I know about how parts of your brain shut down in different situations, but I've literally never heard that. So I'm excited to put that in practice.

Colin Bedell: And Liz, I promise it works. I have to do it regularly, regularly when I'm having a conversation like this.

And when I'm reading a client or when I'm working with people, fortunately, I think my, my meditation practice has allowed me to just be present 90% of the time, I would say. But if I'm in shame or emotional compromising, that's when I do the tap tap, tap motion. Yeah.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah. So what is, I know we've talked about Brené, we're obviously both fans of Brené Brown. What is a book or concept talk, whatever that's been really impactful for you, of hers or anybody else, any, any thing, anything.

Colin Bedell: Oh, my God so much. I think, related to leadership though, it would be Brené’s book Dare to Lead, right? Because I don't think we have come to understand under the full moon and Taurus today as this being recorded.

November 12, just how efficiently and simply our lives can be. If we know the two to three values by which we stand on everything. I mean, it's really that simple. And she has the vast majority of the book dedicated to what it means to live into our values. And a lot of us are scattered and we have more than three.

And if you have more than three, you don't even have priorities. Right. So I think what's been so helpful for dare to lead is it's really consolidated and concentrated leadership style to finding two to three values by which your state of being stands, cultivating that in your relationships with others, and then seeing through those collaborations, what you can do to contribute in the workforce. Right? And so spirituality and connection are. Mine. And so my, about my spirituality, which means I have to take a serious amount of time every week to research and study what universal spiritual themes are and what they look like in day to day practice.

And then I do my best to cultivate a lot of, learning on relational theory and relational technology and relational sciences, so that I can put that in my work as well, because loneliness is the number one public health crisis. And I believe that spiritual seekers have a devout responsibility to be one of the problem solvers in that arena.

And because those are my primary values. I know where I stand and I know what I need to say. And I know when I need to be quiet and I know when they need to listen and I know what opportunities are good fits for me. I know which ones aren't because of that. And I've never felt more sure or convicted of who I am and what I stand for in my life.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah. Yeah, that makes total sense. And it just it's like, okay, I can, it's like my train tracks. Right. It's like, I know, I know what my train tracks look like. Right. And I can like, do the thing.

Colin Bedell: Right.

Yes. Do the thing. And I love that. You said it makes sense because that's the wisdom of spirituality is that life is extremely complicated, but spiritual truth is very simple.

Choose your values, make choices from their values. Live into those values every night, knowing you are who you claim to be, and you will have peace period.

Liz Wiltsie: And be able to articulate them to other people. Right? So that one, the people who, you know, have values that work with yours can find you, the people who actually care a little bit less about your values can stay away so we can all have a good time.

Colin Bedell: Yeah.

Liz Wiltsie: Right.

Colin Bedell: And then we could also have discourse and debate about that too. Like if, if people want to call into question, you know, why are you so relational? And what about the fact that co-dependence and what about this one? I'd be happy to go there with them. Right. I'd be happy to talk about spirituality.

It's the path of the heart, but you're right. I mean, I think more often than not, when you stand in integrity, your and I'm going to go. Woo, woo. But your energetic force fields just tells people, honey, I'm not the one so don't even try it. Don't even try it. Cause it won't end well for you. So don't even think about it.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah. I, I have gotten as I've gotten older, to a place where I'm like, I just really want to be as, as truthful with people as possible. So they can make an educated decision about whether then whether or not they want to spend time with me. And it's like, okay, cool. And you know, you know what you're getting versus like people who sort of are, have a kind of a front, right?

That's like, okay, like me, if they knew too many things and I'm like, here's my thing. It's not for everybody.

Colin Bedell: Right, right.

Liz Wiltsie: It's totally fine. Feel free to exit. But if you're here, you know what you're getting. Right.

Colin Bedell: Exactly. And is it, and then also to Liz, like how beautiful that you then have the ultimate peace of mind that people chose you for you?

Liz Wiltsie: Right. Right.

Colin Bedell: Rather than the feeling, Oh my God. You know, I have to keep this facade up and I got to keep being perfect, the perfectionistic, that people please, whatever. And I think what we should say to your listeners from a real, just straight talk please straight on standing point of view is that if you are performing and perfecting and people pleasing, it outs itself.

Don't kid yourself. People know it, they smell it. So just, if you think that other people don't know you're doing it, I'm so sorry. You're really, really mistaken.

Liz Wiltsie: Particularly in leadership, right, right. You're right. It's like a sort of, you know, house of cards really, people will we'll find it.

Colin Bedell: They will, they will. Whereas authenticity, absolutely outs itself very quickly. And so it's okay. If you are kind of new to this conversation and you realize, wow, this isn't working great. And now let's get to work.

Liz Wiltsie: Yeah. So what should I have asked you that I didn't?

I just thought, I thought your five questions or four questions rather were absolutely lovely.

Colin Bedell: You could ask me, what am I reading currently and what I say, right? I'll say that I'm reading Octavio Paz, the double plant, a double plane. It's just absolutely extraordinary. The Double Flame, I should say. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And what about you? What are you reading?

Liz Wiltsie: What am I? So I am reading another one of my guests named Desiree Adaway, recommended a book called Feminist Accountability to me.

And so accountability is my jam.

And so, I, I got it from my local, Independent bookstore here in Los Angeles that I just adore. And, so that is on my list. I haven't started it yet, but I, that is where I'm headed.

Colin Bedell: I love it. Well, I will give it a peruse and that we should talk about it the next time we meet up.

Liz Wiltsie: Great. Colin, thank you so much.

Colin Bedell: Thank you so much, Liz. It's been a pleasure.

Liz Wiltsie: Full show notes from this episode, and every episode are available at 4needs.work/podcast. If you're intrigued by this episode, please subscribe.

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