By Tom Voccola
Part 3 of a continuing series on CEOing
Photo at right: The Shadow
Today I am going to help you see the invisible forces that have, for your entire life, been running you. Some call it the shadow. Now I want you to get this, because if you get this then you will know what all Powerful Leaders know - if you truly understand yourself, you will profoundly understand humanity - because we are all run by the exact same forces.
This can be notoriously difficult to explain so I am going to actually draw you a picture.
But before I do I want you to consider something. What if you have been living your entire life with access to only half the resources you were born with? I mean, what if you have an entire set of invisible powers you knew nothing about? What if you suddenly realized that you are here to do something magnificent? What if you suddenly found out that you are actually here to change the world for the better in your life time? Would you do it?
Now before you say yes, there are already some things at work within you. First of all, while you’ve always suspected that it might be true - I mean 98% of people, when asked if they felt they have a purpose in life, say yes – part of you may becoming very skeptical. That’s okay. Not to worry, just thank that part of you for sharing and read on.
Over the past 18 years, working with over 300 CEOs and 15,000 managers and employees, not one person has failed to articulate, in black and white, on a piece of paper, exactly who they are in the world. And each and every one of them realized that they were here to serve others in a way that is uniquely suited to them.
Ok, here is the first part of a two part picture I promised. I call this view of the current human model, our Reactive Identity and its simply made up of a few words. Now just look at the words I've listed. I suspect you know something about them. You see, these words pretty much describe the way the world runs today - the way almost every person, relationship, organization, business and country works. But to better understand how and, more importantly, why, let me share my definition of each word with you.
Ego: Our ego is that reptilian part of us that is meant to protect our physical and psychological selves. Its primary function is to scan the horizon and react to danger. It lives in a world of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Everything and everybody is a potential threat. This is the eye-for-an eye part of us. Our ego is an interesting character in our little play, and is pretty much recognized as the most powerful entity on the planet so far. In our quest for survival, our ego has developed us into a species of master reactors that live from the past. This is where our instinct to fight, flight or freeze resides. In fact, it is just that, an automatic, unconscious survival instinct.
Personality: Our personality gives voice to the ego. Whether you fight, flight or freeze in a fearful situation depends upon the personality you were born with. The personality allows the ego to express itself in the world. Some say that who we are is our personality. I believe that not to be the case. I say that our personality is simply the perfect tool box for expressing what we are here to do. I believe it is underutilized and misrepresented and, as we will see later, perfectly suited for much more than we yet realize. Personality is generally represented by four representations: Degree of Dominance; Sociability; Patience and Independence. There are many other aspects of personality of course, but these are the ones that dominate the business jargon. Personality is extremely easy to identify and measure. DISC, McQuaig and Myers Briggs are three instruments you can use to determine personality. If you want to know more about your personality (for FREE!), you can take a Myers Briggs survey here.
You do not have to register so the results are entirely confidential. Just take the survey and it will instantly give you your results in the form of four letters with some numbers below them. Write the letters and corresponding numbers down. The letters refer to aspects of your personality and the numbers refer to the degree of preference you have. Mine is ENFP, for example. When you have recorded your results, go here.
At the bottom of the (wikipedia) page there is an empty box. Enter your four letter results (not the numbers) into the box and you will be taken to a page that explains your particular personality profile. Have fun with this! It is all part of the journey. Again, your personality is not who you are, but it is a powerful tool you use to begin to understand how you engage the world (when you finally understand the full context of your life).
Beliefs: Given our reactive environment and outlook, when something happens to us we “make up our mind” about things pretty quickly. Mostly we do this unconsciously. Beliefs occur within us two ways; we are born into them, or as our reaction to life around us. An important distinction about beliefs is that they are not necessarily true or false. Scientists have determined that well over 90% of what humans believe to be true, is not. Beliefs are convenient constructs, sort of like short hand for the mind. Beliefs can be sorted into two types: empowering beliefs or limiting beliefs. It’s the limiting beliefs that cause so much pain in the world and in our lives. Being invisible until called into question, our beliefs lie dormant until something sparks them, causing us to react in a prescribed way. More about that later.
Experiences: Our ego, as expressed through our personality, and guided through our beliefs, has experiences. We may have big, bold, jumping out of an airplane experiences, and we may have more subtle, day-to-day kinds of experiences that shape us over time and everything in between. No matter what, stuff happens in our lives and we react our way through it. In fact, it could be said, as far as the human animal is concerned, we are master reactors. Our experiences are always colored by the beliefs we hold. For example, if we believe that employees are helpless and hopeless, we will seek out evidence to support that belief. This, by the way, is humanities biggest blind spot. We actually believe our beliefs are true.
Behaviors: For the most part, our beliefs are invisible until called into question, but when called into question we automatically react with key emotions which guide our behaviors. Behaviors are the automatic outcome of our beliefs. At issue is not so much the beliefs, but the automatic outcome they engender without any thought on our part.
So, to wrap this up as neatly as I can: all of the above points to a:
Universal Formula for Reaction
It's called the BEAR formula. In other words, everyone on the planet behaves this way. How it works is whenever something happens in our lives, our invisible beliefs (B) cause an automatic emotion (E) which triggers a (re)action (A) that leads to the results (R) we experience in our lives. (> = cause) This is the basis of cause and effect. Something happens, then…
Beliefs > Emotions > (re)Action > Results
This is how humanity occurs in the world. What runs us, what runs you and me, are a set of invisible beliefs, most of which we were born into, that we rarely question, and when we do, there is usually a violent re-action associated with that event…revolutions even!
This is the perfect model to explain the current environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the world and in our companies. When you are afraid all the time you are on guard all the time. And when you are on guard all the time you focus on survival at all costs. Not a bad thing, it’s just that there is so much more that we are capable of. You know this to be true because you are much less cautious than others. You are, after all, an entrepreneur. Here are some key points to remember about our reactive identity.
Our Reactive Identity is:
Unconscious, automatic, reactive, operates from the past, is driven by fear, uncertainty and doube, focused on what’s wrong and what we don’t want, is colored by our experience & beliefs, is closed and rigid to new ideas, requires tremendous amounts of our physical energy, craves perfection, fosters complaint, requires trust, resists change, separates through fear, strives to keep status quo, is at the affect of the world, requires control, and is the primary reason for management, government, laws and religion.
Since we are told by our culture to be like others, we spend precious little time seeking to be our selves. As a consequence we unknowingly give up the most satisfying part of life. And so do our families, employees, customers, etc. How can knowing this change your relationship with others? Think compassion. It's not easy being human.
Next month I will introduce you to that part of you that has been missing all these years. That part of you that was always meant to work with your reactive self and bring you to a different, more satisfying outcome. Next month you will meet your creative identity. You do not want to miss this!
Entrepreneur, speaker, author and CEO Coach, Tom Voccola is the CEO of CEO2, a Chief Executive Consulting Firm specializing in the rapid transformation of corporate and organizational cultures. Tom is the author of The Accidental CEO – A Leader’s Journey from Ego to Purpose. His life’s work is to inspire a new generation of leaders who transcend ego and its fear based agenda. His work gives executives immediate and authentic access to new levels of power, influence and freedom within their organizations.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Part 2 of a continuing series on CEOing.
In just about every leadership or management book, course or seminar you’ve ever taken, somewhere within the first few chapters of the book or hours in the seminar, you will see or hear the familiar phrase: “know thyself!” And then the book, course or seminar will quickly move on to management tips and techniques on how to manipulate and control things.
Now don’t get me wrong, knowing how to manipulate and control the right things is of immense importance, but attempting to manipulate and control the people who are controlling the right things is a monumental waste of your time and energy. There is a more powerful way. And it begins with you.
If you’re reading this you probably think of yourself as an entrepreneur. Maybe not.. Being an entrepreneur is a role you play, no different than being a friend, a parent or an financial planner. That you are playing one role in particular has more to do with your ability to play the role, which has to do with certain aspects of your personality, which we will talk about in another post.
Who you really are is what you bring to the roles you play in your life.
You are a complex being, yet, if you stand back far enough, you are still very predictable. I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. The truth is you just don’t know what you don’t know. And why would you when your entire life you have been told to be like someone else – and so has (almost) everyone else.
As you succeed in building a successful business, your first task will be to lead and manage people – staff and clients – who are trying to be somebody else! No wonder leading people has been describes as herding cats! The fact is you and just about everyone you know has been brought up in a culture that says for you to be valuable - for you to be happy, rich, thin you name it – you have to be like someone else. Think about it. Every book you’ve ever read (except mine of course) has told you that to be successful in life you need to be like someone else. Still don’t believe me: think In Search of Excellence, think Good to Great, think The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. Each ends up with a list of things that you absolutely must do to be like the people or the organizations featured in the stories. The fact is while you may be able to do or be like some of these people or companies for a time, it’s not sustainable. It will just totally exhaust you. To give you a concrete example: You will never, ever, no matter how hard you try, be Bill Gates. There is only one Bill Gates. And again, this is also good news, because no matter how much money and power Bill Gates amasses, he will never, ever be able to BE YOU!
So what I am saying is this: If you want to be powerful in your life, you must first understand and master yourself. Yet the majority of people define who they are by the roles they play and the expectaions of others and that has been the natural order of things for millions of years.
Who you really are, is what you bring to life simply by being in it! You may have been hard to find because you’ve been hiding behind the mask of other people’s expectations. To create a growing, sustainable company, you’re going to have to come out from behind that mask and be authentically you.
Let me say more about this last point. Who you really are is what you bring to the roles you are playing in life. Who you are is what you bring to being a parent during those moments when you find yourself being a great parent. Who you are is what you bring to being a CEO when you find yourself being a great CEO. Who you are is what you bring to being a friend when you find yourself being a great friend. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?
It’s easy to be you. It’s very natural. It’s only hard when you try to be someone else! It’s only hard when you constantly struggle to live into the expectations of others. Yet we spend our lives doing this. What I am saying here is be your SELF and help others do the same. There will be less stress, less struggle and less violence in your life.
Now before you think that’s selfish, nothing could be further from the truth. Who you really are is a contribution – a magnificent contribution! You have always known it – why do you think you want to lead others? We are about to find that part of you that has been lost for a long time.
There may have been times in your life, if you were very lucky, when you felt like time stood still, when what you were doing was effortless, and you actually felt joy. You may have been sailing a boat, looking into someone’s eyes, or being on a team or project. This may have been with the family, at work or in the military. Can you find a moment or time in your life when you were actually joyous? If you can I want to tell you something that no one else will tell you: This is how you were meant to live. You were, during those moments of joy, being authentically YOU! And when you are being authentically YOU, you light up the room. People find you irresistible! They want more of you and your ideas and your friendship. Wouldn’t you want to tap into more of that?
The reason you have been so hard to find is that you have been buried in all the reaction of life and have not had access to the creation in life. Now pay attention here, because this is all about to change for you. I am going to help you see the invisible forces that have, for your entire life, been running you and everyone you know. Now I want you to get this, because if you get this then you will know what all Powerful Leaders know - if you truly understand yourself, you will profoundly understand humanity – because we are all run by the exact same forces.
Next month: Our Reactive Identity.
Entrepreneur, speaker, author and CEO Coach, Tom Voccola is the CEO of CEO2, a Chief Executive Consulting Firm specializing in the rapid transformation of corporate and organizational cultures. Tom the author of The Accidental CEO – A Leader’s Journey from Ego to Purpose. His life’s work is to inspire a new generation of leaders who transcend ego and its fear based agenda. His work gives executives immediate and authentic access to new levels of power, influence and freedom within their organizations.