allowed logo podcast

The Biggest Mistake Conscious Leaders Make

Season 1, Episode 49

caneel executive coach

I'm a social scientist who helps people break out of the invisible traps and make whole-life changes easily and naturally.

You Don’t Need to be Perfect

You notice you are not present in a situation.  Do you try hard to regain presence? Focusing and putting in effort to be present in the moment. 

When you try hard and put forth effort to stay present it results in not being present. This reflects a lack of ease. If you are pushing, straining, and making yourself be present the outcome isn’t true presence.  

You are working hard to be present and control the outcome of the situation you are below the line – in the drama triangle.  If you push yourself to not be in drama then ironically you are in drama. 

Often after teaching my clients the concept of being above the line (the empowerment triangle) or below the line (the drama triangle), they hang onto the idea that the goal is being above the line all the time.  They begin to see it as a bad thing to be below the line and in drama.

This is the most common misperception of conscious leadership. The idea of a right or wrong way to be. Actually, it’s okay to be above the line, and it’s equally okay to be below the line.

Neither location is good or bad, right or wrong. One is not better or worse. They are just different locations where you are going to have different experiences. 

Beautiful work and immense learning can come from both locations. 

This framework is all about acknowledgment. Living and leading consciously. Consciously doesn’t mean “right”, it means awareness and curiosity. 

What It Means To Be Below the Line

Below the line (in the Drama Triangle), you’re in a state of threat. Suffering is found below the line, but suffering is not bad – it is human. Below the line, you’re focused on being right. 

Drama happens below the line, when you get wrapped in your stories and being right about them. 

What It Means to Be Above The Line

Above the line (in the Empowerment Triangle), you’re in a state of trust. You have access to a type of learning that is transformational in nature. You are focused on learning and curiousity.

When you are above the line, you’re in a state of presence, ease, and flow. 

How You Fall Below the Line When You’re Trying to be Above the Line

Putting forth a lot of effort to be above the line actually means you are below the line.  You are trying to control how you are being. It’s all effortful. 

You’re pushing. You’re straining. You’re trying to control an outcome. I want you to stop thinking you need to put in so much effort. When you are below the line it’s about being able to notice where you are and allow it to be. 

It is beautiful to want to have a different experience. It’s awesome to want to see what it’s like when you’re above the line. 

But here’s the thing. The second that you become attached to thinking above the line is the right place to be, you have just begun thinking there is a right and a wrong. 

And, bingo, you slip below the line.


Because you believe there’s a right and a wrong, and you think you’re right about it.  Being attached to being right about something is when you are below the line.  Below the line, being right is your number one goal.

Being curious and learning is your number one goal when you are above the line. So the second you think there is a better place to be, you are below the line.

You can’t get above the line by trying to not be below the line. It doesn’t work that way. 

To get above the line, you’re going to question your stories. You’re going to focus on what you can control. You notice and allow what is happening. 

Ask yourself how you created this current situation you’re claiming you don’t want. Then you get curious about it. What can you learn from what is happening right now? What are you trying to achieve by being below the line? Play it with it and be lighthearted.  Get curious and wonder what it would feel like to not be below the line. Look at the opposite of your stories.

You will be below the line a lot.  It’s human nature for us to dance and play on the drama triangle. It’s not a bad place to be.  Being below the line is a wonderful experience. It’s relatable and reminds us of our own vulnerability. From below the line you can have access to a great sense of appreciation and gratitude. 

Being below the line can open up many opportunities for learning if you learn to notice, allow and question.  When you have true presence and awareness below the line and learn to dig into your stories and where you are in drama you open yourself up to immense learning and growth.  Beautiful work can be done below the line and when you do this work shifting above the line will often come naturally. 

There is No Wrong Place To Be 

Both above and below the line are wonderful experiences with much growth and learning. The key to conscious leadership is not your location but understanding where you are and how you are being. 

In each location, you will have different experiences with access to different types of learning and growth. 

You do not need to be an extremely disciplined guru if you are going to be walking the path of conscious leadership. You don’t need to be perfect. No one is. We’re flawed, beautiful human beings. 

But the primary foundation of conscious leadership is choosing to be aware of your context. You choose to practice awareness of whether you are above or below the line. 

More often than not, you’re going to be below the line. No worries!

Welcome to the human experience! From below the line you have so many options, and probably more than you’ve imagined. There is so much you can learn from your mindset and experience down there. 

Honestly, sometimes you will be completely committed to being below the line and you want to stay down there.  You will not be doing yourself any favors by acting like you are above the line.

So embrace where you are in the moment and use the acknowledgment to inform your next moves.

Conscious leadership is acknowledging where you are, without judgment, shame or blame. And then choosing your next steps from an educated and aware place. 


About this episode:

An essential concept of Conscious Leadership is your location above or below the line, on the drama triangle or the empowerment triangle. In this episode, learn how to determine your location – above or below the line.

Explore why trying so hard to be out of drama can lead you into drama. Empower yourself to acknowledge the wisdom that comes from both being above and below the line.

This episode will help you move into a place of true acceptance of yourself and others, no matter where you find yourself at the moment. This framework is your roadmap to consciously navigating through life, without shame, blame, guilt, or judgment. There is no wrong place to be.

Conscious leadership involves self-exploration and giving yourself permission to experience life and leadership in new ways.  This episode emphasizes the importance and benefits of self-awareness and self-acceptance has on your life and leadership.

How to Spot Drama From A Mile Away 

You’re Working Harder Than You Have To- Hero Mode 

How to Get Life to Operate for You

Don’t Should on Yourself

How to End Drama- 10 Steps to Shifting You and Your Team Out of Drama

Skills for Creating Anything You Want- Empowerment Triangle 

The Number One Way to Shift You and Your Team Out of Drama

Keep learning

Recent Posts

Essence, identity, and being yourself before you die

How to Get Creative About Change: The Change Formula

The Wisdom of the 5 Core Emotions

How to Stop Saying Yes When You Really Want to Say No