To confront a person with his own Shadow is to show him his own light.
In our last three blogs, we examined the 3 Leadership Shadows: Fear of Failure, Fear of Rejection, and Fear of Betrayal. We explored these aspects of our being as the dark counterparts to three positive motive needs: Achievement, Affiliation, and Power. The purpose of this blog is to examine ways to integrate and walk with your Shadow so that it doesn’t disintegrate you, dragging you away from your highest potential and purpose in the process.
We have already discussed the negative or “dark” aspects of the 3 Leadership Shadows as they relate to the three styles: Achievers and their core beliefs of unworthiness that lead to striving for perfection and micromanaging others when their Fear of Failure Shadow is activated. Affirmers have core beliefs related to their need for acceptance and connection that lead them to self-censor and to be overly accommodating when the Fear of Rejection Shadow is activated. And, Asserters develop core beliefs that are based on past feelings of insecurity which lead to an excessive need for control and manipulating others when their Fear of Betrayal Shadow is activated. Although these behaviors are unpleasant at best, and career limiting (or ending) at worst, it is important to remember that Jung stated there is also “gold” to be mined in the Shadow. We must be willing to confront and accept these darker aspects of ourselves if we want to tap into the creativity, profound insight, intuition, passion and purpose waiting to be re-awakened in our Shadow. As stated in an earlier blog, the enemy is not our Shadow. Rather, it is our denial, projection, or rejection of it that feeds it and, in turn, gives it power over us.
In a previous BLOG we examined ways to meet our Shadow. Now, let’s look at some specific strategies for integrating your Shadow. First, you have to accurately identify your Leadership Shadow, and that means you need to objectively understand your dominant motive need and resulting leadership style (i.e., Achiever, Affirmer, or Asserter). Once you have an accurate assessment of your style, you can then begin to assess and gauge its current impact (which should include your entire personal and professional history up to this point) on you. For example, assume you have a total of 10 points which must be divided up based on COST vs. BENEFIT of your Shadow. You must get something positive out of your Leadership Shadow, so I would genuinely reflect on that and assign that BENEFIT a number of your 10 points. Whatever amount from the 10 points is left over is your COST. I will warn you that this can be unsettling when you realize that lost relationships, promotions, and marriages are hard to quantify. The point of this exercise isn’t to accurately “solve for X” (as the Achievers are currently trying to do … ☺ ). Rather, it is to reinforce the notion that the COST is usually greater, often much greater, than the BENEFIT. If and when we have that insight, then we are truly motivated to engage in true transformational growth.
Although there is no “playbook” on how to approach your unique situation, there are some general activities that Actualized Leaders engage in more often than others. I would offer these to you as general suggestions for your consideration:
10 Suggestions for Enhancing Your Self-Actualization
- Spend more time in nature.
- Belly laugh at least once every day.
- Express gratitude.
- Try something new that scares you.
- Practice mindful meditation.
- Say “no” when you don’t want to do something.
- Say “I’m sorry” when you’re wrong or have hurt another person.
- Admit your mistakes.
- When dining out, order what you really want and have dessert.
- Tell someone in your life that you love and appreciate them.
While these are powerful changes you can make, there are some specific changes you can make to help you become a more Actualized Achiever, Actualized Affirmer, or Actualized Asserter, and they follow:
Actualized Achievers who have (mostly) conquered their Fear of Failure:
Redefine “perfection” as the effort not the outcome, self-disclose when appropriate, and stay out of the way of their direct reports and peers.
Actualized Affirmers who have (mostly) conquered their Fear of Rejection:
Start with a deep and abiding connection to their own values and purpose before connecting with others, are candid with others because they see giving feedback as a gift, and say “no” when necessary.
Actualized Asserters who have (mostly) conquered their Fear of Betrayal:
Actively listen to others, readily say “I don’t know” or “I’m sorry,” express gratitude and are willing to be vulnerable.
In the coming weeks we will examine the 9 Attributes of Self-Actualized Leaders, and explore how these nine characteristics lead to breakthrough performance, personal growth, and extreme satisfaction. Developing these aspects of your style will help ensure that you operate from a position of awareness and objectivity, not fear, while staying true to your core being. When you are successful in this process, you are much better able to walk with your Shadow, drawing on your unique strengths when needed and continually mining “gold” and reclaiming your inheritance.
Photo provided courtesy of Grindean Horea