We made a public commitment to share what we had done on the book each day, starting on Wednesday March 7. Here are this week’s updates, in reverse date order.
Friday, April 20
Michael & Michele – Working with Shadow – The psychological ‘shadow’ are disowned parts of ourself that we project onto others. An angry child, afraid to feel anger at his parent, instead experiences imagined monsters who are angry and out to get him. A worker who is innerly critical of her co-worker who she finds to be a self-promoter, rails against him in her mind, but does not see that she secretly wishes to acknowledge her own achievements but is afraid of being seen as a braggart. Instead of experiencing his own anger or her desire to be proud of her accomplishments, the person ‘projects’ that feeling onto an other because it is safer to experience it that way; it is not I who feel this ‘dangerous’ emotion, but that other person or thing. The child feels fear, which is safer than fear at his parent; the woman feels critical (of a ‘bragger’), rather than feeling proud of herself.
Reintegrating this shadow can make us more aligned internally, give us more energy, and help us have greater self-awareness to work effectively with others. Our clients often bring out our shadow, which is both ‘dangerous’ from one point of view, and a tremendous opportunity from another. We all know the client who really infuriates us, threatens us, just tweaks something in us that has us agitated. Before we get in touch with the underlying projection, we will likely not be effective in working with that person; on the other hand, if we can gain insight into what is going on in us, it can make us the perfect person to work with them. Let’s say I’m working with a change sponsor who is very sure of themselves – perhaps too much so, disregarding advice or feedback from others – and I become very judgmental and angry about this. If I can do some inner work to own my own tendency to arrogantly disregard others’ opinions, then I may develop sympathy for the client’s perspective. If I can neutralize my tendency to reject their arrogance, I can confide in them that sometimes I disregard others’ advice and that it has a negative effect on me when I do. I can sympathize with their belief that they are their own best counsel, but also that I get into trouble when I do that. I no longer sit in judgement of what they are doing, but have compassion for how they are handling things, and patience for them to find their own way through the difficulty.
Thursday, April 19
Michael & Michele – Creating a WE Space – Let’s be clear: there is always ‘some’ kind of WE space within any group of people; but that WE space may be supportive of personal disclosure, collaboration, open thinking, and risk-taking; or it may be closed to such possibilities, fear-based, mistrusting, and forbidding of disclosure. When we create an intentional WE space, we do so to serve the needs of the whole, including the individuals, the group or team, and the community, if we can. This takes mindfulness, awareness, clarity, a bit of effort, and some skill. And it requires us to shift an I-based sharing environment into a WE-based energetic space. Disclosing on an I-level leads naturally to the energetic feeling of WE, to seeing our collective identify, to a sense of shared meaning and purpose. It helps if we intentionally create a container for this WE to emerge within, a container that is sparked by the intention of the (co-) leader(s), then joined by the intention of the members of the WE space. We articulate what we are trying to create together — perhaps a safe space for sharing our vulnerability in service of growing our leadership — then choose what behaviors and attitudes / culture will lead us to creating such an environment together. Those behaviors might include simple things like agreeing to hold things in confidentiality, or more challenging things like agreeing to give each other hard feedback, but with care and respect.
Wednesday, April 18
Michael & Michele – The Cost of the Reactive – When we look at our leadership, and we see the ways in which we are reactive – the ways our ego needs for securing our identify take us over – we can think, oh, gosh, that’s not too good, but hey, I’m human after all. We can see our own foibles, but rationalize them away as just the kind of stuff we’re working on. The real question is, what is the cost to us, and to others. When we allow the reactive in us to take control, there is a cost: the cost may be the diminishing of an important relationship, a loss of trust, emotional friction, or hurting another, or ourselves. Only when we truly take in the cost of our pattern are we likely to have sufficient motivation to shift that pattern. The reactive orientation has served us in the past, and we have to see how now, given who we are now, the price of this pattern is too great. It hurts too bad to continue; whatever benefit it used to provide is no longer worth it. We need to understand the pattern more deeply to change it, but the motivation starts with the cost-benefit analysis we do, not in our ‘financial mind,’ but in our heart.
Tuesday, April 17
Michele & Michael – Society-Centric – Purpose. Fulfillment. The search for meaning in our work. Many people would take a pay cut to work for a purpose-drive, socially responsible (society-centric) organization. As human beings we seek to belong to a tribe that is part of a higher cause, one that aligns with our sense of purpose and of giving back. Being a part of making a difference is what keeps people loyal, dedicated and inspired. When leaders lead from an outcome-come creating place, a place where passion and purpose drives to co-create the future, then real transformation is possible. Cities are revitalized – even brought back from the dead. Culture transforms. Lives are changed. Leadership of this kind requires letting go of the past, of limited views, in order to experience a new approach to their world. It requires a new consciousness, a new way of seeing with fresh eyes, of sensing and of letting go and letting come what is meant to be created. In each of us exists deeper levels of humanity, waiting for us to discover and grab hold of in order to co-create with the future that is meant for us and for generations to come. Seeing this in action in organizations today, watching as they revitalize entire cities, is deeply moving and inspiring and an example to follow in order to change our world.
Monday, April 16
Michael & Michele – Entering a System – When we enter a new organizational system, it is critical to enter mindfully and with a clear intention. If we want to be helpful, we must enter with the intention of trying to understand the players and the system, rather than assuming we have something to teach them or that we can fix them. Better to bring compassion than our ‘brilliance.’ Starting from a place of humility will endear us to others more than displaying all we know. This position acknowledges that to seek help from an outsider — as the client system is doing — is an act of courage and vulnerability; we should be careful not to make this vulnerability greater than it already is.
When we start with listening, and not presuming we know things the client system does not, we keep a beginner’s mind, we learn new things, we help the client system see itself with a fresh perspective — ours. If we can learn things together, driven by our curiosity and warm embrace of the new system, we will both benefit. When we enter in this way, the client system is likely to reveal things it would not have if we had forced our way in, entered with our expert guns blazing. We enter as peers, each with our role, our job to do, each with our vulnerability. Entering properly allows us to continue in a strong way. Let’s see where this goes…