Living and Leading ‘Above The Line’ – how to step away from anger, worrying what others think of you, and needing to win

22 August 2020 Categories: Character Development

On Thursday 23rd January 2020 a new book was launched around the globe.

Nothing remarkable there – books get launched all the time, but this release is more meaningful to me because I have a personal connection with the authors, Stephen & Mara Klemich.

They taught me what it means to live Above The Line, through their Heartstyles philosophy, and set me on my own journey of self-discovery.

Their message and learning has changed me forever. I found a way through the hard times, when I was busy self-destructing and in full victim mode. They showed me the importance of seeing the gold in adversity, after all, isn’t our brokenness what makes us more special, unique and rare, like the Japanese art of Kintsugi?


Of course, Heartstyles isn’t about ‘fixing’ us – more a way of being – a compass for life. And yet, being able to spend more time Above The Line brings with it an easier, healthier and more fulfilling way to live  

Behaviour comes from deep within our character and is more a product of where our heart is at, rather than our head. People often talk about mind-set, and attempt to find behaviour changes through knowledge-based training, but Heartstyles is more about Heart-set than mind-set. Behaviour comes from emotion, and understanding my own behaviour becomes a necessarily emotional experience. 

Reflection #1  

Living Above The Line means to become more connected to emotional and behavioural states (of self & others). Heartstyles helps me to get character-curious, identifying and diagnosing why I behave the way I do, enabling me to choose a more effective direction. To be able to look ‘under the bonnet’ is a missing piece of the personal development / wellbeing puzzle – there are so many options and choices, which all miss the biggest opportunity of all – examining what’s going on inside.

Stephen & Mara also inspire us to see that living and leading Above The Line isn’t always about serving others. 

‘Leadership is all about growing others’

Jack Welch (former Head of GE)

…sorry Jack I disagree…

Being the best version of MYSELF is a hugely significant ingredient for Above The Line living & leading. Serving others, at the expense of working on my own excellence, is a one-way ticket to approval seeking. As a facilitator I have the pleasure of training thousands of people every year. Many of them give, give, give at the expense of finding their own sparkle. So living Above The Line helps us to see that ‘self-care is not selfish’, in fact self-love is equally as essential as caring about others.

Personal Growth is the path to feeling secure in oneself, and that security creates CONFIDENCE. Stepping into my best self, without worry of others’ judgment requires Humility and Courage – the humility to shine on the inside not the outside (ego) and the courage to find one’s voice and to seek discomfort, stepping into the stretch zone.

Copyright 2020 Heart Brands UK Ltd

Reflection #2  

Living Above the Line is not purely about serving others. Balancing Personal Growth AND Others Growth is the path to feeling more secure, confident and fulfilled.

The Heartstyles philosophy is based on what Stephen and Mara call ‘The Four Principles of Life’. Below The Line behaviour is rooted in Ego and Fear. Above The Line behaviour embodies Personal Growth and Growing Others (essentially love for self and love for others, but as I alluded to before, not everyone is comfortable using the ‘L’ word – especially in the workplace !?).

These four principles drive all human behaviour, and with the understanding to interpret these sources, we can all access Above The Line states more of the time for ourselves. This brings wellbeing benefits. From over 100,000 data points, Stephen & Mara have identified statistically significant conclusions. The more time we spend Above The Line, the greater health and happiness is to be enjoyed.

Reflection #3  

The four principles of life are normal and commonplace ways for each of us to behave every day. Over time, our character has developed coping mechanisms for handling life using these four principles. However, the data shows that if we can figure ourselves out, and spend more time living and leading Above The Line, then greater fulfilment and health is within reach.

 If you’re character-curious to know why we do the things we do, how to build our own confidence, and to spend more of life Above The Line, have a read of Stephen & Mara’s book – and prepare to be even more awesome than you already are. 

For further information, or a chat, about how Heartstyles can help you and your organisation to move from less effective to more effective, please get in touch. ‘Above The Line’ is published by Harper Business and includes a FREE HEARTSTYLES INDICATOR :

 Simon Thomas

Heartstyles Accredited Consultant

Optimus Team Learning

Mobile: 0044 (0) 7947 479175

Office: 0044 (0) 0113 493 1886